You’ve probably read a lot of stuff on the internet about how to live a happy life…but you’re still not feeling any better.
The unfortunate truth is, you’re not alone.
According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, negative feelings are rising around the world—and the United States is particularly hard-hit with an “epidemic of addictions.”
I believe it’s because we’re getting the idea of happiness wrong.
Happiness isn’t about feeling positive all the time. It’s not about experiencing as much “pleasure” as we possibly can.
Instead, It’s about rolling with the punches and experiencing all that life has to offer.
In this article, I’m going to go through 7 secrets to help you live a happy life.
1. AIM for happiness
According to Robert Biswas-Deiner, author of the book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, to live a happy life, we need to AIM for happiness.
On the surface, AIM for happiness sounds corny, but AIM is an acronym for Attention, Interpretation, and Memory.
Let’s breakdown what each word means and why it’s so important to happiness:
Attention: This means that you’ll only be as happy as where you direct your attention,
If you choose to focus on the positive side of life, you’ll feel better. On the other hand, focus on the bad side of life and you’ll have a more negative mindset.
Pretty simple so far, right?
Related: 5 ways to be more positive that actually work
Interpretation: This is the way you view things. After all, events and scenarios in life can be viewed with a different lens.
For instance, getting a new promotion at work can excite you – or scare you because you don’t want to encounter new challenges.
You can’t control everything around you – but you can control how you interpret what’s around you.
Memory: You can’t predict the future, but can look back on your positive moments in the past.
Many of us are always thinking of the future and what outcome our decisions will have on our happiness, but the problem is that the future isn’t guaranteed.
This is different from the past, which has guaranteed points of happiness. Thinking about those points provides you with a secure repository of happiness.
Okay, AIM is great for the fundamentals of happiness, but what about some actions you can do every day to bring happiness?
2. Focus on what you’re good at
It’s no secret that we enjoy something when we’re good at it. According to professor Robert Biswas-Deiner, when you do something you’re good at, you tend to believe your actions are more meaningful and important.
We also gain a boost in positive emotions and feel we like we are treated with more respect.
In other words, the more you do what you’re good at, the more goodness you feel.
Taking action and doing what you love will give you a sense of achievement and purpose in life, which is a crucial element of satisfaction and happiness.
3. Have a calling
Having a purpose in life is an important piece of the how to live a happy life puzzle, and the good news is, you can find meaning in life in just about everything.
The trick, just like the “I” in AIM, is how you see it.
When you think about any work that someone does, the end result is always a benefit to others. You just need to think about it.
For example, someone who is a cleaner at hospitals doesn’t need to think of their job as emptying trash cans but instead see themselves as contributing towards sick people getting better.
If they can adopt that point of view, their job becomes more engaging and meaningful.
4. Living a Happy Life is a process, not a destination
Look, it’s impossible to be happy ALL the time. Happy people feel sad as well.
In fact, it’s fair to say that without sadness there wouldn’t be such a thing as happiness.
Life is full of ups and downs, and it simply isn’t possible to feel good all the time. Being alive as a human means having the privilege to feel all types of feelings and thoughts.
When you avoid certain feelings and thoughts, you don’t experience all that life has to offer.
Related: How to get through the really bad days
You can’t arrive at happiness. Happiness is an ongoing process. Many of us believe that we will “end up with a happy life” when we finally marry the right person or get the right job.
The truth about happiness is less simple than that. Happiness is a process that happens sometimes throughout the day and across the week and over the course of months.
It’s something that needs to be managed.
In fact, research shows that lots of little things make you happier than a few big things. A good example of this is exercise. Exercise gives you frequent boosts of small, positive emotions.
5. Practice gratitude
Many of us are often consumed with what we don’t have and we believe that it isn’t good enough to find happiness.
But you switch the tables around in your mind when you practice gratitude. It unlocks the fullness of life and turns what we have into enough.
According to The Harvard Health blog, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”
“Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Practicing gratitude will help you see that there a lot of things in life that you might be taking for granted.
We’ve already spoken about the importance of how you interpret events, and gratitude plays an important part in how to interpret what is in your life right now.
Even in difficult and trying times, there is always something to be grateful for.
There are lessons in all aspects of life and when you allow your mindset to notice, you let yourself see the positive and optimistic side of life.
6. Practice acceptance
Life isn’t all butterflies and rainbows.
And it’s important to remember that you only get rainbows after it rains, and butterflies after a caterpillar has gone through an incredible transformation.
You need to experience the dark side of life in order to find the sunshine.
When you allow yourself to experience challenges and difficult emotions, you can make the most of any situation and grow from it, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
This is also critical to enhancing your inspiration and improving your creative thinking skills.
There’s no point in getting down about feeling bad, according to Kathleen Dashlen, a psychotherapist in San Francisco.
She says accepting negative feelings is a crucial habit called “emotional fluency”, which means experiencing emotions without judgment or attachment.
This allows you to accept your difficult emotions, learn from them, and move on from them more easily.
Most people believe that avoiding negative emotions and challenges throughout life allows them to find happiness.
The truth is, people who are truly happy are those who have come through the fire and lived to see another day.
We don’t live happy lives when we close ourselves from the inevitable hurt and pain that comes from being human.
We live happy lives when we find the strength to persevere and endure the hurt and pain that comes from being human.
We need to feel all that there is to feel as human beings. After all, without disappointment and sadness, how can you know what is happiness?
Related: 15 of the Most Empowering Rules to Live By
7. Focus on your relationships
You don’t need a thousand friends, but you need one or two people in your life who matter and who are there to help you back up when you fall.
In fact, according to a 75-year Harvard study on human happiness, our close relationships are the most significant predictor of happiness levels.
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
Having close relationships has been shown to make us happier while we’re young, and improves our lives and helps us live longer.
We all need someone to lean on when times are tough and make us smile when things have gone sideways.
While we can walk this world alone, it’s always more fun to spend your time with people who can bring you joy.
And when we are surrounded by people we love and who love us, we feel a sense of connection and security.