Ever feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to be happy?
If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 25% of Americans suffer from some form of chronic unhappiness, whether it’s a minor case of the blues or more serious depression.
There can be many causes of that unhappiness, from genetic tendencies to lifestyle and personal circumstance, but, whatever the cause, the important question is: what are you going to do about it?
In this post, I’ll share a few of the best strategies you can use to boost your happiness, and start living the life you really want.
Happiness is a Skill
The first thing you need to recognize is that happiness is a skill. Yes, people have different set-points for happiness, and some parts of your default mindset have to do with things you can’t control (like your genetics).
But, the overwhelming cause of happiness is a skill. Just like you can build muscle by working out at the gym, you can build happiness through your daily thoughts and actions. This means:
Happiness is a habit that anyone can learn.
Once you adopt that belief, the game changes, because you instantly begin to put yourself in control. Rather than focusing on feeling like a victim and wondering what happened to you (and all the myriad complaints that go with it), you can start focusing on what steps you can take to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
Pay Attention To Where You Focus
The #1 most important point to understand about happiness, is that is has very little to do with what’s actually happening in your life.
Instead, happiness is about where and how you focus. It’s about how you manage your constant stream of thoughts as you go about your day.
This means that you can have next to nothing and still be happy, as equally as you could have everything that you’ve ever wanted and still find a way to be miserable.
There are two points here:
Choosing Your Interpretation of Events
The first is that no matter what happens around you, you are always choosing how you want to react and respond.
Your interpretation of your life events and circumstances is far more important in determing your happiness than the situations themselves.
It’s all about the story you conssitently tell yourself. If you are a high achiever and consistently tell yourself that you aren’t enough, that no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get to the next level, it’s no surprise that you’ll feel miserable, regardless of whether you succeed or not.
This is a common pitfall for many people. We have a tendency to make our happiness contingent upon achieving some goal. But, when we achieve the goal (or even when we get close to the goal), we immediately move the goal post. We may enjoy a fleeting feeling of pride and accomplishment, but almost immediately set our sights on the next aim.
Related Post: Learn How To Deal With Your Inner Critic.
Goals Are Symbols of What You Really Want
The solution to this is to think about the roles that your goals actually play in your life.
Your goals are never about the thing you think you want. Goals are always symbols. They are always about becoming a new, ‘better’ version of yourself in some way.
Ultimately, they are always about your desire to be happy. You think you will be happy when you achieve the next promotion, earn more money, get married, buy a bigger house, or whatever it is that you want to achieve.
In so doing, you postpone your happiness. You use the symbol of happiness (the goal) as a reason not to be happy. And, as I just mentioned, we then immediately push back the goal, focusing on a different aim.
Quiet The Mind & Draw Your Attention Inwards
Of course, no matter how you interpret what’s going on around you, you still make yourself susceptible to the outside world.
True happiness takes it a step further. It isn’t just about managing how you respond to the world around you, but about realizing that nothing outside of you could ever really make you happy or unhappy.
The choice always begins within you.
In order to practice this, you can develop a meditation habit, which will help you to quiet your mind and draw your attention inwards. At first, this process may feel strange, but it is probably the single most effective tool you can use in order to guarantee long-term happiness and fulfillment.
Take Small, Daily Actions to Increase Your Happiness
Lastly, the other habit you can develop is to focus on small, daily actions you can take that will build up your happiness over time.
There are endless opportunities for you to do this, every single day, and I cover it in more detail in this post on easy happiness habits.