Most of my life I desperately wanted to be happy.
I wanted it so badly, but I didn’t know how. I read self-help books, studied psychology and watched motivational speeches. Yet, I was still missing the mark—I just didn’t know how to be happy.
At some point I realized that I was approaching the issue from the completely wrong angle. I was over-occupied by my own sadness and sadness in general. All I did was think about my misery, hoping to create happiness out of it but I had no idea what happiness was let alone how to create it.
Then it dawned on me: you can’t make apples from pears, and you can’t make happiness from sadness. If all I think about is sadness, all I feel is sad. If all behaviors I engage in lead to sadness, I can never create happiness in my life no matter how much I crave it.
I realized that I needed to practice happy behaviors and happy thoughts to create happiness. At first glance it might sound like a Catch-22, but I needed to focus on happiness to be happy. It worked. With slow baby steps, tiny happy thoughts and actions led to more and more happiness.
Here are five easy ways to create happiness in your life today:
1. Make a decision to be happy.
Everything in life starts with a decision—we can decide to be sad or to be happy. Making a decision to be happy may not magically change things in one day. But by making a decision to be happy, we can start practicing happy behaviors, thinking happy thoughts and feeling happy feelings.
Small things add up, soon you will wake up with forever shining happiness.
2. Practice gratitude.
No matter at what point we are in our lives, we can always find something to be grateful for: the sunrise, the air we are breathe, the people we care about and so much more. The more we practice the attitude of gratitude the easier it becomes. The more we practice gratitude the more we realize how much we have to be thankful for.
3. Notice the small things.
Happiness doesn’t take much. Take a deep breath. Look around. Turn around. Notice your surroundings. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? Who is around you? What is happening? How do you feel? Just notice what’s going on. Just notice all the tiny little things that make life so beautiful.
4. Nurture your inner child.
Remember being a kid? Children are usually carefree. They run around and play. They use their imagination and create an amazing fantasy world for themselves. There is no reason to stop using our imagination and creativity as adults. Draw, paint, build something, get your hands dirty, sing, scream, laugh, get silly, and run around. Lose yourself using your imagination and creativity.
5. Give back.
Always come from the question: “How can I serve?” Help others when you can. Volunteer. Donate. Listen. Offer a hug or smile. Serve others whenever possible. Always be kind and always offer love. By giving back and helping others not only you will feel happier but others will benefit too.
Good karma goes around, so does happiness.
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Editorial Assistant: Kim Haas/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo credits: elephant journal archives