How to Lead a Happy Life: 21 Tips to Live Happier

Amber Murphy
Amber Murphy

Most, if not all people, hold the common goal of leading happy lives. There are general conceptions about what a happy life actually is. For a lot of individuals, a happy life depends upon how much money one has. But for others, happiness takes a different form and might relate to what a person feels their purpose is. For example, if you believe that your purpose in life is to help mankind, then you may receive happiness through volunteering or philanthropy.

By understanding what makes you happy, you’ll be one step closer to leading a happy life. Happiness is not just a distant emotion felt during a person’s younger years. It’s an emotion that is always accessible and obtainable to all. However, how it is to be obtained will differ from person to person. There are ways to improve your daily happiness by incorporating new habits, removing bad habits, and also reprogramming how you perceive your life. Simply understanding how to be happy is helpful as well.

How to lead a happy life

Many of us still hold onto perceptions and ways of thinking we’ve had since our childhood. The way we process situations, our morality, and character are all elements primarily influenced by our childhoods. This can be a beautiful thing as it helps us to navigate our way through life and make responsible decisions.

However, this can have an adverse effect if you’ve experienced a childhood of negativity and toxicity. Environments like that can foster a negative self-image and low self-esteem that some people happen to carry into their adulthood. For example, if you were raised in a competitive academic household and nothing you did seemed to be good enough to your parents, you might find that you are still comparing yourself to others and judging yourself harshly. There are practical approaches to leading a happy life despite the kind of life you might’ve had prior. Here are just a few ways to reclaim your happiness and lead a happy life:

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1. Do not compare 

Don't compare to others

You might be comparing yourself to others without even realizing it. Comparisons don’t have to be verbally addressed. You can compare subtly by looking at another person and measuring yourself to their standard. By comparing yourself to another person’s standard of being, you may find yourself always trying to live up to that person’s standard. This is an endless and empty pursuit of happiness where a person tries to fulfill themselves with what they think will bring them a happy life. However, nothing could be farthest from the truth. In fact, many people who try to live for others find themselves miserable or even more insecure.

To lead a happy life, you shouldn’t compare your success or progress to other people. Understand that you are in your own league, and the only competition you should hold is competing to improve upon your personal best. Let’s say you own a business, you shouldn’t compare your sales with the number of sales of another company. Instead, seek to do better than your last record of sales. This will save you from any potential disappointment and future discouragement. Also, you must let go of the standard you think you should uphold, especially if you know you won’t get any fulfillment from that goal. Perhaps those goals are not yours but someone else’s.

2. Know thyself

To obtain a happy life, you must know yourself. In the movie “The Matrix,” Neo went to an oracle. Above the doorway leading to the oracle were the words “Know Thyself.” Some of us let our pasts define us, and others of us look to the future to tell us who we really are. The truth is only in the power of now and knowing that you can create the life you want to live. The oracle told him of the possibilities as one should understand that nothing is written in stone and that one’s capabilities are endless.

How can you get to know yourself? One way is to isolate yourself from the most influential variables in your life. This could be friends, family, culture, religion, or even society. All of these entities tell us what we should be and what we should seek to obtain our happiness. We then feel guilt or shame when we haven’t received it because we think we didn’t do enough. Living a happy life shouldn’t ever feel like a strain, something to resist, nor something you must conform to. Isolation can be achieved by going on a short retreat or merely choosing to not allow others to have such a bearing on your perceptions. By doing this, you allow yourself to see what you truly want out of life and not what others want for your life. This is one reason why monks practice detachment and solitude. By obtaining solitude, you can live better among society and loved ones without feeling pressured to be a certain way. You will have discovered what fulfills you and what does not.

3. Be selfless

Practice giving

“Anything you can not relinquish when it has outlived it’s usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”

Peace Pilgrim

Materialistic things don’t equate to happiness as we’ve seen many rich people still exhibit things like depression. The complexity of the human mind also relies on other factors when it comes to happiness. Sometimes more money can breed more problems. For instance, with more money, you may have people approaching you to use you for their own monetary gain. Thus, you might not know who to trust or who’s truly authentically in your life for you and not your money.

“Materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

Selflessness could help you live a happy life as it takes the emphasis away from collecting things that you don’t necessarily need. Instead, your attention deviates from helping others, and this can help you to appreciate what you do have. Sometimes people don’t realize how great their lives are because they are focusing on things that don’t truly matter to them. You can think about the people you have in your life, the support system, and all of the basic necessities you have. By taking inventory of what you have, you’ll have a clearer perspective of what you may need to become happier.

4. Be selfish 

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and make your happiness a priority. It’s a necessity.”

Mandy Hale

On the other hand, being selfish could help those who are accustomed to being too selfless. Giving is good, but it can become detrimental when people are giving away the things they need. For example, you may want to help loved ones with an errand; however, you realize that you have something else to do at that time. If you find yourself putting other peoples’ needs before your own, this can be what’s preventing you from leading a happy life. As much as we want to help, we must help ourselves first. In situations like these, you shouldn’t feel guilty for being a bit selfish. In fact, a little selfishness is a requirement for living a happy life. You must be willing to prioritize yourself before anyone else. This is to ensure you are never left without. Even giving has its limits.

“It’s not your job to be everything to everyone.”

Linda Frame

Put the oxygen mask on yourself, first

To live a happy life, you can’t expect yourself to be available for everyone whenever they need something. Your happy life should come before trying to pour into anyone else’s cup. This creates exhaustion and hinders a happy life. A happy life is not a person trying to balance the world on their shoulders. A happy life consists of self-set boundaries and an understanding that it isn’t your responsibility to help everyone. This can be difficult for some people to accept. However, it’s still fundamental to maintain a happy life.

“Self respect, self worth and self love, all start with self. Stop looking outside of yourself for value.”

Rob Liano

Self-love improves one’s self worth and builds a happy life. You can practice self-love by treating yourself to a spa day, going on a shopping trip, or taking up a hobby that you’re passionate about. You have to lead a happy life by removing toxic habits and people from your life. Toxic people can be friends, romantic partners, business associates, or even family. Toxic habits that prohibit a happy life might include stressing, overworking, self-compromise, etc. Instead, to live a happy life, you should surround yourself with people who add value to your life instead of those who drain your energy. That’s also a way to practice self-love and build a happy life by practicing self-respect.

“Of this is true: You do not find the happy life. You make it.”

Thomas S. Monson

A happy life is built. As stated, nothing is written in stone. So, you can shape the happy life you want to live. Don’t allow others to define what a happy life means or look like for you. You create your own vision based on the things you believe will bring you happiness. A happy life isn’t contingent on what society thinks is cool or what your elders have told you they want you to become. A happy life is based solely on what brings you the most joy and peace of mind.

Tips for leading a happy life

Tips for leading a happy life
  • Do not conform to other people’s standards of happiness.
  • Create a gratitude journal, and list some of the things you are grateful for.
  • Practice self-love, and put your well-being first.
  • Take time and explore different hobbies to find what you’re truly passionate about.
  • Work to achieve inner peace.
  • Redefine what happiness is to you.
  • Inspire yourself. Check out these happiness quotes.
  • Remove the previous programming by practicing mindfulness.
  • Relearn your likes and dislikes.
  • Adopt the habit of meditating daily to clear the mind of stressors.
  • Change your perception of success and failure.
  • Use aromatherapy for self-care.
  • Recite positive affirmations to combat negative emotions.
  • Eat more chocolate, and boost your serotonin levels.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Work a job you enjoy and look forward to.
  • Incorporate nature into your home decor.

Start leading a happy life

There is no preset way to obtain or maintain a happy life. A happy life is unique and personal to your own likes and dislikes. Understand that there are no predetermined blueprints for a happy life and that everyone’s “happy life” will look a little or very differently. Relinquish any doubts or fears you may still harbor and accept the possibilities of living the happy life you envision. You can achieve a happy life by first detaching your expectations of what a happy life should be. Instead, focus only on what makes you happy and take action to do those things you find joy in. Then, you’ll be able to lead your ideal happy life.

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