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7 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Happiness

There’s NO secret on how to be happy. But there are ways to set yourself up for happiness everyday.

If you’re reading this, you are literate and likely have the freedom to choose what you read. Start there. Thank a teacher and environment that allowed this.

Below are small ways to create happiness in your life each day.


how to be happy

7 Surefire Ways on How To Be Happy

1) Notice what is good and amazing within and around you right now.

how to be happy

If you slept in a bed or place of your choosing last night, that’s noteworthy. Not everyone in the world has that pleasure.

Are you thinking about what you want for breakfast or dinner today? Are these choices easily accessible to you? Wow! Look at how amazing your life is already!

Do you have an older relative or friend you could visit, get to know better, and learn about their lives or your family history? I promise you that you’ll wish you did when they are gone.

Avoid letting the news and negative people distract you from your good. Make a practice of looking for what’s good and amazing within and around you. Express gratitude for it.

It’s the little things that we too often take for granted that ultimately teach us how to be happy.

2) Insist on doing what gives you inner joy, not just short-term gratification.

Resist the urge to think “I’ll be happy when I get this or that material thingORearn this or that income.”

Yes, basic comforts are essential and we count on our income to get them. But external possessions only give temporary pleasure.

how to be happy

Avoid settling for activities that drain your joy or compromise your values. You may have held many jobs as you explored career choices, for example. But for the sake of your happiness, choose the ones that fill you with joy and give you a sense of accomplishment.

As one of the world’s top floral designers demonstrated how to create an elegant upscale design at a flower show, he shared a few details about his life with the audience.

His father was a dentist who insisted that he follow the family business and become a dentist too, rather than focus on his love of gardening. So he followed his father’s advice and became a successful dentist.

But while he enjoyed his lucrative career in dentistry, he decided to develop his life-long love of flowers and plants as well. He developed floral design skills that are so unique and stunning that he was invited into an elite group of top international designers whose arrangements can be seen in corporate spaces and elegant events.

You don’t have to choose. You can enjoy more than one endeavor. The days of staying on one job for an entire lifetime are over. Perhaps you’ve made a satisfactory income in one career but are now ready to reinvent yourself.

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Some people turn hobbies into new careers. If you’ve stayed fit all your life, for example, you may find joy in offering fitness training for seniors.

Or as part of our shared economy, you can earn money by renting all or part of your home through services like AirBnB. If you’ve always loved to drive, you may find joy getting paid to drive for services like Uber or Lyft.

Happiness is the by-product of finding the gift(s) we came to this world to share. How to be happy means creating a life of wholeness around it. Once you discover this, you will be able to love yourself with all your human imperfections and experience a joyful life.

3) Focus on what YOU want, not what you don’t want. 

“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” – Rumi

how to be happy

Avoid griping about the circumstances around you. Think deeply instead about what you DO want in your life. Then take small steps daily toward those things, even if at first it means​ just making a list of your ideal life OR creating a vision board of the situations you believe will bring you joy.

When you find your mind drifting to what you don’t have or want, let those pass and replace them with what you want.

Did you ever long for a bike, doll, or other toys as a kid? That’s probably all you could think about. Right? You drove your parents nuts with non-stop requests.

Perhaps you even pressed your nose against the store display window imagining yourself wheezing down the street on that bike or dressing your doll.

Let your imaginations go wild like you did as a kid. See yourself enjoying the setting and the people you want in your life. Feel the emotions and excitement.

Avoid making an elaborate plan. Focusing and believing is your job. The plan will unfold as your focus and belief get stronger.

4) Say “yes” to yourself, and “no” to others.

Catch your breath! I’m not suggesting you turn into a Negative Nelly. It’s just that putting others’ needs before yours and neglecting yourself makes you resentful. It chips away at your self-esteem.

how to be happy

Think about the last time you loaned money to your cousin who never calls except to borrow money. Or remember the time your nomadic friend asked to spend the weekend on your couch until he got his own place and it turned into months. Or the time you cancelled very special plans to cover for a coworker who wanted time off to take care of her very special plans. You got annoyed and upset when you realized you’d been used again, right?

Don’t waste energy feeling bad for falling victim to manipulative people. We’ve all been there. Just vow to say “NO” next time when that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach signals you’re about to be had.

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Just say no. Keep it brief, don’t apologize and don’t explain. If you can’t resist saying something after no, say very pleasantly, “It’s not a good time for me” OR “I have a previous commitment.” Then stop talking.

Just thinking about it makes you feel better already, doesn’t it? It’s okay to say yes when doing so gives you joy and your needs are being met and respected, of course. In these situations, you empower yourself and increase your happiness.

5) Surround yourself with people who have accomplished and experienced what you want in your life, then create your own version of you.

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” Rumi

how to be happy

You can’t control the family you were born into, nor can you choose your coworkers. Y​ou can, however, limit contact with anyone who isn’t whole and who seeks to tear people down instead of build them up.

Surround yourself with people who are seeking to grow, learn, and contribute to the world in positive ways. You will recognize these people because they encourage, support, and uplift other people’s dreams and goals.

Notice the self-care strategies they practice. Observe how they handle challenging situations. Ask for their advice or help on how to be happy.

While you can learn from others, however, you can’t be them. Chart your own path. Be willing to risk doing things a little differently. You will make some mistakes along the way but you will grow in the process.

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6) Look for the lessons in your failures, setbacks, and hardship.

Did you think happiness was the absence of sadness, mistakes, and adversity?

Sorry. Part of being human is experiencing lows and highs in life. As a matter of fact, even labeling something as low or high, good or bad, is up to us.

how to be happy

Instead of running from challenges or feeling like a victim, face them head on. Work through them, and be grateful for the resilience you built as a result.

Some things we first see as failure may have hidden opportunities, or be a blessing in disguise.

When I was driving over 37 miles to a teaching position, I sought to cut down my commuting time by applying for a new position at school only 9 miles from my house. When I was not hired, I was very disappointed.

Sometime later, however, I was relieved I didn’t get that job when I learned that the school was charged with corruption, lost its accreditation, became ineligible for public funding, and is being run by another district.

Sometimes, rejection is protection from an unfortunate outcome you couldn’t foresee.

Always look for what you can learn as you go through challenging experiences. This builds your self-confidence in handling future events, and increases your love of yourself.

7) Do your best, but give up on perfection.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Success and happiness are the result of small, uncertain steps forward. It is NOT based on waiting until everything is clear or perfect.

how to be happy

Perfection is an illusion that will stifle us. The perfect images of models and happy, wealthy families we see in the media are doctored to persuade us to buy products, and are far from reality. As a matter of fact, our imperfections and flaws are part of our uniqueness.

Fred Astaire, film star, singer, and one of the greatest dancers of all time, once said that​ if you make the same mistake enough times, it becomes your style. Just as a flaw can become an asset, Astaire’s dance “mistakes” became the signature style for which he is still remembered.

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen

Follow the seven suggestions shared here and enjoy how you’ve set yourself up on how to be happy.

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