I consider myself to be an introvert.
There’s only a finite amount of energy that I can get from socially interacting with others. Extraverts generally tend to extract much more energy from being social when compared to me.
But I am still the happiest on days that I spend with friends, family and my girlfriend. It’s why I usually see an increase in happiness during the Christmas period. My birthday is also a great example of this. Being around others generally has a positive influence on our happiness. The truth is, good relationships are a great way to be happier.
That’s why developing good relationships is an important section in the Learn How To Be Happy blog. This section focuses on good relationships and how they can help you to become happier.
Surround yourself with happy people
In a world filled with negativity, it is obviously quite common for someone to be surrounded by negativity. In fact, spending time with negative people who continually see the bad in every situation is the quickest way to become a negative pessimist too.
There’s this old saying:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
I couldn’t agree more. If you hang out with pessimists, it’s likely you’ll slowly turn into one yourself.
It luckily works the other way around too. Surround yourself with positivity, and you’ll slowly embrace that mindset yourself as well!
My actionable advice to you?
- Spend time with people you love in a setting that you enjoy. From my personal experience, spending time with people I love has a huge influence on my happiness. Whether I’m with my girlfriend, family or close friends, I almost always notice that I’m happier after spending time with these people.
- If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to meet up with your friends in a club (I absolutely hate clubs). If a quiet night playing board games together sounds more fun to you, make sure you meet up with others under these conditions. Don’t associate and mix up good things (your relationships with the people you love) with potentially bad things (like spending time at a club).
- Unfriend people who add nothing but negativity to your life! Pay attention to only the people who mean something to you and have a positive influence on your happiness! If you’re currently not happy, you have to distance yourself from people who don’t add something to your life. You can decide who you spend time with, so choose the people who will actually add positivity to your life!
Spend more time with your close friends
As Chris McCandless – from Into the Wild – said prior to passing away:
Happiness is only real when shared.
While the exact influence of spending time with others varies per person and per day, it is commonly known that you need some form of social interaction once in a while to be happy.
I consider myself to be an introvert, meaning that spending time with others may actually cost me energy. You can lock me in a room for a full day and I might actually want to stay there longer. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t mind being alone every once in a while.
That said, spending time with people I love has a huge influence on my happiness. Whether I’m with my girlfriend, family or close friends, I almost always notice that I’m happier after spending time with these people.
The truth is, you have to get out there and be amongst others if you want to find sustainable happiness. Even if you don’t feel like being around others, you should really try to meet up. You’ll likely find out that you enjoyed it afterward.
However, it’s important to spend time with these people in a setting that you enjoy. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to meet up with your friends in a club (I absolutely hate clubs). If a quiet night playing board games together sounds more fun to you, make sure you meet up with others under these conditions. Don’t associate and mix up good things (your relationships with the people you love) with potentially bad things (like spending time at a club).
Find that special person
Do you believe in a soulmate? That one person who will make you the happiest person in the world?
I don’t. But still, my relationship with my girlfriend is probably the best thing I have in my life. We started dating back in February 2013, and are currently going strong for more than years. We’ve also moved into an apartment together right at the start of 2018. My relationship is as solid as it’s ever been. We’ve endured much more challenging times during our 6 years together, notably caused by all the long-distance periods that we’ve survived.
The thing is, spending time with the person I love is an almost sure-fire way for me to be happy. We don’t always agree with each other, and can sometimes really get on the other’s nerve, but I consider that to be normal in any kind of relationship. We love each other, and at the end of the day, that allows us to easily forget about these small annoyances.
All in all, I can easily say that my girlfriend is the biggest source of my happiness these days! I feel lucky to have my girlfriend in my life. 🙂
(I’m not just saying all these things because my girlfriend might be reading this and will get pissed if I don’t. I promise! Heeeeeeelp meeeee)
Don’t forget about your family
Do you sometimes feel like you don’t get to spend enough time with your family?
How can we keep up relationships with so many people while maintaining our busy lives? I find it extremely difficult to make time for my family, without sacrificing sleep, work, relaxation, hobbies, exercising and friends.
However, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll also really enjoy the time spent with your family. Why? Because these people have a special place in your heart. You’ve grown up with these people and therefore feel a connection with them.
The truth is, I love spending time with my family, mainly my parents, brother, and sister.
- Like that time my brother, sister and I ran a marathon together.
- Or the many dinners at my parents home with the family.
- Or when my father takes me and my brother to Austria for a couple of days of hiking in the mountains.
- But also the birthdays of my grandparents.
- Or the chaotic Christmas dinners with the entire family.
Hell, I’m not even a parent yet. So you can only imagine how much more important my family will become once my girlfriend and I try to expand our small family.
The point is, if you are in good contact with your family, then spending time with these people will undoubtedly have a positive influence on your happiness! We are all living busy lives, sure, but it’s important to spend a part of our limited time with the people that are most important to us.
Smile to a stranger
It’s the small stuff in life that can sometimes make you the happiest.
I remember this one time, when I went running, a total stranger complimented me on my stride and technique. I found this odd since I’ve never had any training and I sometimes feel quite clunky. However, this random comment made me very happy.
Comments like these can be more impactful than you might think. A simple smile or compliment to a stranger can go a really long way.
On your pathway to happiness, you will probably encounter a lot of people that are dealing with similar issues like you. I want you to consider the possibility of being a source of happiness for these people. Yes, even though you might not feel happy right now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a source of happiness for somebody else!
You see, humans tend to move in groups. We tend to unknowingly copy the behavior of others, and as some of you might know: emotions can be contagious!
If your partner or close friend is sad or angry then there is a possibility that you will feel that emotion as well.
The same works for happiness.
Your happiness can actually radiate to other people. Your smile has the power to bring a smile to someone else’s face! How can you put this to practice?
- Smile to a stranger.
- Try to laugh when you’re around others (not in an awkward way!). Laughter is one of the best remedies for sadness.
- Do something nice for somebody else, a random act of kindness.
- Open the door for someone with a smile.
- Volunteer in your community and spread happiness that way!
- Make a compliment to somebody else and notice how it affects their happiness (like that stranger that complimented my running form!)
Why would you want to focus on the happiness of others while you’re the one who’s struggling to be happy?
It’s easy: spreading happiness will make you happy as well. Teach by doing, and you’ll learn something for yourself as well.
Happiness is truly a subjective feeling that has a lot of myths, biases and different strong opinions. People say it can’t be measured, it’s a waste of time to pursue it and that happiness is not really measurable at all.
Despite all this, there is one interesting aspect of happiness that most people agree on, and that’s:
When you are trying to make others happier, you will paradoxically find happiness yourself.
If you’re just not that social, there are still plenty of ways to be happy
Can you be happy without a relationship or friends?
The simple answer is yes.
It’s true that friends, social relationships or a partner are a really good way to add happiness to your life. But it’s not a guarantee. If you’re missing the basic fundamentals of happiness, like self-esteem, confidence, and independence, then having friends won’t magically solve your problems.
It’s important to understand that your relationships with others do not determine who you are from the inside. Instead, it’s your personality, confidence, and purpose in life that determines who you are.
Other people do not influence who you are.
I consider myself to be a happy person (more on that later). I have a small number of hobbies that really make me happy. At the moment, these things are:
- Running long-distances
- Playing guitar (and occasionally singing, although I don’t brag about my singing voice which is probably for the better)
- Going on long walks when the weather is nice
- Skateboarding (I picked this hobby up very recently)
- Playing videogames (currently Call of Duty Warzone)
- Watching series
Notice how these are all things I can do perfectly on my own.
Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 6 years.