Everybody in the world experiences unhappiness occasionally, some more often than others. During these unhappy times, it's important to realize that there are always reasons to be happy. No matter what's happened to you, there are things to be happy about.
The goal of this post is to help you realize that there are always positive things that you can focus on, no matter what your situation. While this won't magically make you the happiest person in the world, it could help you keep maintain a positive mental attitude when times are tough.
I asked our readers for the biggest things to be happy about. In this article, I'll go through the 10 reasons to be happy that stood out the most.
- Why finding things to be happy about is so important
- Finding reasons to be happy makes you 10% happier
- 10 reasons to be happy
- 1. Be happy for being alive
- 2. Be happy for being born in a country with a good standard of living
- 3. Be happy for being able to go for a walk outside
- 4. Be happy for every new day (and new opportunity!)
- 5. Be happy about vaccinations
- 6. Be happy for being able to do good in the world
- 7. Be happy with your past failures and struggles
- 8. Be happy for the small positive things in your life
- 9. Be happy with your memories
- 10. Be happy for having a roof above your head
- Wrapping up
Why finding things to be happy about is so important
Before I start, I want to share some information about the power of gratitude.
Searching for reasons to be happy is basically a big part of practicing gratitude. It's about focusing on positive things, rather than letting yourself feel low because of negative circumstances.
It may sound overly simple and meaningless, but finding reasons to be happy is one of the simplest ways to practice gratitude. It helps you maintain a positive mental attitude, even when times are tough.
There are a lot of studies that have proven the impact that gratitude can have on your happiness. We've written an entire article about the powerful relationship between gratitude and happiness, which covers why gratitude is linked to a 10% increase in happiness.
Finding reasons to be happy makes you 10% happier
One of the most well-known studies on gratitude was conducted in 2003 by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. They conducted a study in which they surveyed 192 participants – split into 3 groups – that were subjected to different situations. They were all asked to rate how they felt via a combination of 30 factors at the end of each day on a scale from 1 to 5. The answers were used to calculate a subjective well-being rating.
In addition, the 3 groups were tasked with an additional task as well, which differed randomly per participant. One of the groups was led to think about positive things as a result of the following assignment:
There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about. Think back over the past week and write down on the lines below up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.
The other 2 groups were given other assignments, which had nothing to do with gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness at all. In the end, participants that were “forced” into a grateful mindset felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about their life in the near future.
The study shows that people who are encouraged to think of things they’re grateful for are approximately 10% happier than those who are not.
But there's more! In this study, one group of participants was given a gratitude writing intervention where they “gratefully remember” a hope that has been fulfilled in the past. Compared to the control group, participants who were grateful gained an increased state of happiness and hope for the future.
This proves that taking a moment of gratitude can certainly improve your emotional state!
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10 reasons to be happy
So all these studies suggest that you should focus on things to be happy about, which is one of the simplest forms of practicing gratitude.
What are these things, then? We've collected examples from our community backed by science to give you the best. Here are 10 reasons to be happy today, even when your life seems to suck right now.
Not all of them will necessarily be applicable to you, but just 2 or 3 reasons are enough to practice gratitude.
1. Be happy for being alive
Everyone who reads this has a reason to be happy. You are alive.
It may be difficult to feel happy about being alive sometimes, but it means that you have the chance to change the future of your life.
You can't change your past, but you can always change your future.
Being alive means that you can steer your life in a happier direction. And that is a reason to be happy right now, even when it seems that your life currently sucks.
2. Be happy for being born in a country with a good standard of living
Most of our audience is located in the United States (~60%), and another chunk of it is either from the United Kingdom (~15%), Canada (~5%), or Australia (~5%).
If you're reading this, it's likely that you've been born in a country with a good standard of living, which is a reason to be happy on its own.
This means that you enjoy privileges that other people simply can't enjoy. For example, you have the right to vote, and to express your opinion freely without the government trying to stop you and you've probably gotten a good education.
These are all things to be happy about. Especially when you consider that a big part of the world's population hasn't received these benefits, only because they were born in a third-world country.
3. Be happy for being able to go for a walk outside
Being able to go for a walk is highly underrated. Even when it rains!
- Walking alone or in a group can be used as a treatment for depression, and there is some evidence that walking can also prevent depression;
- Walking can lower anxiety;
- Walking can have a positive effect on self-esteem;
- Walking can be used as a potentially promising intervention to decrease psychological stress;
- Walking can support and improve psychological well-being;
- Walking is associated with higher subjective well-being.
By simply being able to go for a walk, you have the power to positively change your day.
So if you're currently sad and can't find a reason to be happy, just go for a walk! Even when it rains, just grab an umbrella and be grateful for your ability to walk. Enjoy being outside and let your mind wander and get lost in your thoughts.
Here's one of our readers who shared this sentiment with us:
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to spend time in nature. Whether it is taking the time to watch a sunset, spending time on a beach, or enjoying time in the mountains (if I’m visiting another place), nature offers such peace of mind. As we can all get so busy with the day-to-day, it’s nice to unwind, take some deep breaths, and focus on the beauty that nature has to offer.
We’ve written more about the benefits of walking on your mental health here. This includes 3 tips that you can use to turn walking into one of your mental health habits
4. Be happy for every new day (and new opportunity!)
A big reason to be happy right now is that tomorrow is a new day, which means you get to make a fresh start again.
Even when you felt like crap all day, you can be happy knowing that tomorrow might be completely different. Unhappiness doesn't last forever. We are only human, so we’re bound to experience unhappy days. It’s important to realize that everybody occasionally experiences a string of bad days in their life. What you need to do when this inevitably happens:
- Don't let such a thing set you back.
- Don't interpret it as a failure.
- Don't let it stop you from trying again tomorrow.
Here's an inspiring quote that I really love:
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.Martin Luther King Jr.
Even if you can't imagine that tomorrow will be a better day, just try to take it one step at a time. You don't have to climb the staircase in one day. As long as you manage to climb a single step in a day, it means it was a good day.
5. Be happy about vaccinations
This article was originally written in August 2021, and at the time, I just received my second shot of the COVID-19 vaccination.
I'm extremely happy that the world is slowly but surely being vaccinated, which gives me hope for a future with lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Not only that, but I'm also happy and grateful for the thousands of people who work around the country to help people get vaccinated. It's because of these people that the world is slowly moving back to normalcy.
This is currently one of my biggest reasons to be happy!
6. Be happy for being able to do good in the world
You don't have to be happy in order to make others happy. Your actions can make the world a better place. And you don't have to spend much of your energy to make someone else happy. Even just giving someone a hug or telling a funny joke can go a long way to cheer someone up.
This is also a reason for one of our readers to be happy:
We live in a crazy world and it’s far too easy to only see the negative around us. I am so grateful every time I see someone do a good deed for someone else, even a small gesture can have a huge impact. Whether it’s helping a blind person cross the street, carrying groceries for the elderly, or even holding the door open for someone, these good deeds rekindle my belief in the good of humanity.
It’s easy to get bogged down by society but opening your eyes and seeing the good can make you thankful that there are still good people in the world.
Whenever I feel unhappy, I take comfort in knowing that I still can be a source of happiness for others. Even when it's just through giving compliments or trying to be a good friend.
7. Be happy with your past failures and struggles
This one may sound weird, but having dealt with past misfortunes can be a reason to be happy. Having overcome and conquered past "failures" means that you are resilient.
How does this help you live a happier life? It helps because when you face any other struggles in the future, you're more likely to conquer them than someone who hasn't had to deal with these issues already.
There's more to this than meets the eye. A 2010 study conducted on a sample of athletes showed that resilience was positively associated with their achievements and psychological well-being.
A 2011 article also reports that people with higher levels of resilience reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression.
One of our readers shared her point of view on dealing with life's struggles.
Something that I am grateful for are my struggles. To me, they are a gift. Rather than living a life of luxury and ease, my struggles over the years have taught me value, wisdom, and compassion. They have led me to spiritual growth. The greater the challenge I face, the more I learn, the more I progress, and the stronger I become. For that, I am grateful.
Another one of our readers shared:
This may sound strange, but I’m grateful for the not-so-great stuff in my life. They are my greatest teachers.
For example, I learned about living fully from those who have passed on. I’ve learned to appreciate my body more from the times things don’t function as they should. And now, I’m learning about being grateful for the parks in my neighborhood now that I have to shelter in place during this pandemic.
8. Be happy for the small positive things in your life
Even though you may currently feel like shit, there are still reasons to be happy.
A pessimist sees the negatives or the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.Winston Churchill
In order to benefit from the power of gratitude, you don't need a big reason to be happy. You can also focus on something small instead. For example:
- Put on a fresh pair of socks and be happy with how nice it feels.
- Be happy because a traffic light turned green just as you were about to break.
- Make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) and enjoy the warmth it brings.
Or, as one of our readers shared with us, turn on your favorite show on Netflix and focus on something positive there:
I’m grateful for the amazing cast, set designers, and costumes of The Crown. I am so grateful that I can curl up in a soft blanket on my sofa and binge this amazing educational, historical, fascinating show during my free time now.
Even though you probably have plenty of things to worry about, you can distract your mind by thinking of positive things. While it may sound a bit like nonsense, studies have actually proven that this stuff works.
For example, focusing on something positive makes you more likely to think of creative solutions to problems.
9. Be happy with your memories
This is something that I’m personally very grateful for in my life.
I keep an entire memory journal dedicated to remembering the many good memories of my life. Sometimes when I feel down, I read through my past memories and realize that there are plenty of reasons for me to be happy.
I find that remembering good memories helps me maintain a happy mind. Thinking back about that time that I laughed my ass off about something silly brings a smile to my face. This is something I try to do on a recurring basis, whenever I find a moment to stand still and think about my life.
10. Be happy for having a roof above your head
One of our readers recently gave us her reason to be happy.
I’m happy for knowing that I’m not “stuck” in the house but “safe” in the house while others out there cannot be so lucky, either not having a roof over their head or not feeling safe in their own home. Knowing how to reframe my thoughts when I’m feeling rubbish helps. I’m also super grateful for a steady supply of Italian cheese. Because not everything you’re grateful for needs to be so serious.
This is also one of the most simple reasons to be happy. By just having a roof above your head, you are already experiencing more security and comfort than millions of others around the world.
While this fact won't magically turn you into the happiest person alive, it's important to acknowledge that your situation could be much worse.
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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It's important to know that everybody experiences sadness sometimes. Even if we could find the happiest person alive, we'd still see realize that happiness cannot exist without sadness. But even though you can't always change the reasons for your unhappiness, you can focus on positive things instead. By focusing on the reasons to be happy, you're harnessing the power of gratitude which helps you become happier in the future.
What do you think? What's your biggest reason to be happy? Do you want to share your own examples? I'd love to read about it in the comments below!