How to Be Happy (again)
You feel unhappy, and you’re asking how to be happy again.
You feel low and full of despair, trapped by the way your life is heading and not sure what to do next.
You want to change things but are not sure the best approach. You’re not alone.
Many people don’t believe happiness is achievable.
They’ve tried to be happy, but no matter what they do, nothing seems to change.
Yet if you’re stuck, or full of frustration and sorrow, you can improve the way you feel.
Tonnes of research shows that we can influence our happiness. The activities and attitudes we adopt daily affect as much as 40% of our general happiness.
The articles below are an introduction to those insights.
Reading these articles will give you awareness into how to be happy again.
Not every article will resonate with you or be right for you, but within them you’ll find some that do, giving you ideas and strategies that you can start to test for yourself.
Choose a few to read and then try to think about the critical points of the article. Can you start to put some of the suggestions into practice in ways that are suitable for your life?
But let me stop you for a minute:
Here's what's unique about my approach:
Scientific research supports every suggestion I make; if the evidence is lacking or mixed on a particular subject, I plainly say so.
Uniqueness of the Individual
Since every person is different, there is no one size fits all approach. I emphasis finding strategies and tips that work for you.
Lots of evidence shows we only learn by experience; I encourage you to try out different happiness strategies. The guiding principle of this site are: Read, Learn, and Try.
Gratitude and Positive Thinking
Studies repeatedly show that how you think about yourself, your world and other people is more important to your life than your actual circumstances.
Social Connections and Relationships
Social connections are central to your health and well being. One of the most reliable findings in the happiness literature is that better relationships make happier people.
Stress and Anxiety Management
No life - if lived long enough - is without stress, adversity or crises. Learning how to cope is an essential part of living a happier, more content life.
The How of Happiness
Achieving sustainable happiness does not necessarily require (as a psychotherapist might tell you) digging into your childhood, looking at past traumatic experiences, or dissecting your habitual ways of relating to others. Nor is it essential to secure a bigger salary, to obtain a cure from illness or to recapture your youth and beauty.
Happiness comes from specific strategies and attitudes to life. To boost your satisfaction, you need to embark on a long-term program. Sustainable happiness does not come from quick fixes, but from undertaking a combination of the follow steps.
Step #1: Read as Much as You Can
Read as much as you can about different topics, including happiness.
You don’t need to learn everything yourself. Millions of people have struggled with the same problems you have; some have researched topics in depth. If you’re struggling to find the time to read, sign up for a few blogs that you trust and that provide well-researched information in bite-sized chunks.
Don’t ignore books. Pick a few that you think you might like, and that have good recommendations on Amazon. If they’re popular, there are likely to be second-hand copies that you can get at a fraction of the regular price.
Start small. Try to cultivate a reading habit.
If you don’t have much time, then read 20 pages a day.
Twenty pages a day means being able to complete a medium-sized book every 100 days, and that’s 3-4 books a year, more if they are not so dense.
Books can contain decades worth of research and careers worth of learning.
Reading a few books a year will surely broaden your horizons.
Step #2: Be Sceptical
Be sceptical about what you read.
Remember, many people are writing from their perspective. What worked for them may not work for you.
Moreover, snake oil salespeople who are good at marketing fill the internet. They are experts at crafting promises, but they don’t have the knowledge and credentials to make a real difference in your life.
Before you act on others’ advice, be sure to understand who it is that is offering the advice. What authority do they have and what training have they undertaken?
You can read about my credentials here and see my official certificates, including training in Mindfulness, Personal Professional Development, Existential Therapy and Bereavement Support.
Step #3a: Experiment
We all have different lifestyles and perspectives.
While science can show us what works for the vast majority of people, there will always be some people for whom a particular approach doesn’t work. Moreover, while science tells us that if we do certain things, we are more likely to be happier, it doesn’t say we have to do all those things.
Experiment with the different ideas that you come across. Choose a few ideas and see if they work for you. Don’t feel discouraged if you didn’t get the results you expected from one approach; there are plenty of others you can try.
Sometimes it means trying out a different tactic within the same strategy. Sometimes it means focusing on a different approach for a while.
As your reading about the different changes you can cultivate in your life, think about which ones you would most enjoy.
Which ones would you feel guilty if you stopped doing?
Which would you do freely even when it is not enjoyable?
Choose ones you’ll find interesting and challenging.
Step #3b: Experiment
Exercise is a good example of the experimentation process.
Perhaps you choose it as one of the ways to boost your happiness.
1. First you try to go to the gym, but it doesn’t seem to work.
2. Then you consider jogging, but that isn't perfect either.
3. Finally, you settle on horse riding and feel all the better for it.
This is experimentation in action.
But what if you don’t find any exercise activity that works for you?
Keep reading and exploring different ways to boost your happiness.
There are several strategies to choose from. Exercise is just one.
Eventually you’ll find ones that fit.
Step #4: Consider Coaching
Rather than have to figure out everything yourself consider talking to a professional you trust, one that can guide you through the main hurdles and stumbling blocks.
A good coach should be able to offer you laser-targeted practical advice that you’ll be able to put in place immediately.
Although not cheap, talking to a coach could be a great way to speed up your learning. It could be one of the best investments you make.
If you spent a little money now, but it led to a lifetime of happiness and productivity, would it be worth it?
If you were able to find happiness, how would that affect your work and life? Would you be able to recoup the money you had spent?
If you believe the answer to any of these questions might be yes, consider some one-on-one coaching.
Step #5: Don’t Give Up
A life of balance and contentment is within your reach.
It doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all the time. Everyone has feelings of sadness and days where they feel a little down. Moreover, life is unpredictable and precarious; misfortune is often only a few steps away.
Yet it is possible to build your happiness in sustainable ways.
Keep going through the articles on this site, again and again. Keep reading, being skeptical, experimenting and getting feedback.
Reach out to me if you want further support. Tell me what you’re struggling with, and I’ll offer my help.
I love hearing from readers either on blog-post comments or by email or call.
Keep your optimism up and don’t give up.
Long-lasting happiness is possible and within your reach.
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