Much like a double full or a scorpion, happiness is a learned skill—and good things come to those who practice. If you’re looking to lead a happier life, it’s crucial to learn the right skills and put them into practice. So how do you get from point A to point Be-happy? Here are a few clues.
Commit acts of kindness. Sometimes the fastest way to personal happiness is to make others happy—whether that means planning a philanthropic event, volunteering, or banding together to help another gym in need (like many did earlier this year when a tornado destroyed Cheer Fusion in Fredericksburg, VA).
Contributing positively to others’ well-being can also boost your sense of purposefulness. “I believe wholeheartedly that happiness is tied to purpose,” says motivational speaker and success coach Shawn Anderson. When individuals have a passionate purpose that inspires and drives them, happiness and fulfillment often follow hand-in-hand. At Gym Kix in Copperas Cove, TX, owner Stephanie Beveridge spearheads charity efforts for deployed soldiers and the local Hope Pregnancy Center. “[Our work] allows us to realize that there are other people out there struggling and how a little time, effort, and money on our part can be a great blessing,” she says.
Be optimistic. “Happiness is choice,” says Randy Taran, founder of the non-profit Project Happiness. “We cannot control the situations we’re in, but we can control our attitude towards them.” Beveridge agrees, saying, “We cannot equate our happiness with only the ‘good times’ or we’ll all be searching forever for happiness.”
When something doesn’t go your way, look for the opportunity within the adversity. (Taran calls this your “advertunity.”) Staying optimistic is key during difficult times, since focusing on an emotion tends to attract more of the same. The more you can focus on happiness and laughter, the more chances you’ll attract those into your life.
Know your happiness triggers. Do you know what makes your heart smile? Taran calls these things your “happiness triggers.” Spending time on the things you love is crucial for happiness—and the better you know yourself, the easier it will be to lead a more satisfying life. For Morton Bergue of CheerGyms.com, it’s taking time to indulge in a spa day, while for Beveridge of Gym Kix, happy times are most often spent relaxing with family.
If you’re still scratching your head as to your own happiness triggers, Taran suggests thinking of happy times and analyzing what made those times special. By pinpointing the situations that elicit happiness, you can then incorporate those triggers into your daily life.
Count your blessings. Expressing gratitude can open your eyes to all that you have and all that you’ve accomplished. “There are a hundred blessings we each have that we tend to ignore, only to wonder instead why we don’t have something else,” points out Anderson. By being grateful for even the smallest things, you’re more apt to be content and appreciative for what you’ve got. For those struggling with anger or dealing with distressing emotions, try keeping a gratitude journal—or simply make a list of 100 things you’re thankful for and watch the anger melt away as the list gets bigger.
Follow your heart. A fulfilled heart is a happy heart. When you’re doing what you love, happiness is easier to find. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start chasing happiness. Making one small change today can change your whole life.
Happy days are here again.