1. Stop Basing Your Happiness on External Circumstances – This is the number one thing you can do to increase your happiness. External circumstances are volatile and can change at any given time. Why would you base your happiness on something that you cannot fully control? Instead, make happiness come from within in. Find something about yourself that you love and base your happiness on that. Keep your happiness within you, and other people and circumstances have less power to upset you.
2. Be Optimistic – Life is 20% of circumstances and 80% how you perceive them. Even negative circumstances can be viewed optimistically. See the opportunity for positive change in negative circumstances.
3. Help Others Without Expecting Anything in Return – You are more happy giving to others than when others give to you. Don’t just give money. Give your time and expertise. When you help someone out without expecting anything in return, people will see you in a better light. Help out people that are less privileged than you and make a difference. When you contribute to the world, you will feel that your life has a purpose, and you will be more happy.
4. Have Friends That Make You a Priority not an Option – Ever only get invited over when your friends are bored and have no one else to hang out with? Do friends cancel plans on you with short notice, because they came up with better plans? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time to make new friends. You want to be a priority in your friend’s life, not an option. Feeling valued and having someone else truly enjoy your company is a source of happiness.
5. Cherish the Moment. – Life is a journey, not a destination. Look back 5 years. Did you have the power back then to predict exactly what’s going on today? If you have your future set in stone, then you will be disappointed if you stray off this path. Embrace the failures. You learn from them. Hopefully, you get stronger and become a better person because of failures. Not being able to anticipate the rest of your life makes it much more interesting. If you live for the future, you are not enjoying the present enough. Find a moment everyday to appreciate. Having a laugh with friends, going on a walk, meeting someone new, or just coming home after a hard days work are examples of moments you can appreciate.
6. Engage in Meaningful Conversation and Less Smalltalk – Talking about the weather, what happened at work or school today, and what’s immediately going on around you are examples of smalltalk. No smalltalk conversations are particularly memorable and you do not learn anything about the other person. If you find yourself engaging in smalltalk with your friends, cut to the chase and start having a more meaningful conversation. Share what’s really on your mind instead of talking just for the sake of talking. You will develop deeper connections with people if you engage in meaningful conversation. Deeper connections with friends is a source of happiness.
7. Embrace Change – Change is inevitable, so you are better off embracing it. Change seems to happen overnight. One day, someone important in your life might stop associating with you for any reason. You might walk home from work without a job anymore. Changes may be a source of frustration if you are not prepared for them. Instead of seeing change as working against you, see change as opportunity.
8. Be Yourself – Stop worrying about what others think of you. If you are constantly putting on masks to hide your true self, then your friendships are likely to be less meaningful and short lived. Be yourself. Talk about what’s really on your mind. Be open about yourself. And present your personality in a genuine way.
9. Stop Worrying – Most things tend to work themselves out over time, and most of our worries never come true. Then why waste your time worrying? Focus your energy on your dreams, ambitions, and enjoying every moment, and you will be more happy. Worry has no place in your life.
10. Have Realistic Expectations – Unmet expectations are a source of disappointment and unhappiness if they keep happening over and over again. Instead of having sky high expectations, have modest expectations that you can realistically achieve. When you do this, pleasant surprises will come your way and you will be rewarded more than disappointed.
11. Stay Close to Friends and Family – If you lose touch with your family and friends you will regret it later on. Family and friends are the most important relationships in your life. So before you consider moving out to the suburbs or moving to a new city, make sure you can stay in touch with friends and family. Maintaining in person contact is more meaningful and fulfilling than other forms of communication.
12. Avoid People That Bring Drama into Your Life – Some people (we’ve all met them) find ways to bring unnecessary drama into normal situations. Even when everything is normal, they will conjure up drama to get you upset at someone else or someone else upset at you. If you are constantly being bombarded with drama, even drama that has nothing to do with you, avoid the person causing / spreading it. It’s your life, not theirs.
13. Talk Less. Listen More. – If you are the type of person that is always blabbering about your random thoughts, take a minute to listen to what other people have to say. Why shut out the world by talking, when you can learn by listening? Plus it shows other people that you are interested in what they have to say.
14. Stop Approval Seeking Behavior – Approval seeking neglects your own happiness. Realize that you will never be able to please everyone, and live life the way you want to live it. If you are living to get approval from other people, then you are not living for yourself.
15. Be More Spontaneous – Some people’s lack of happiness comes from lack of excitement in their lives. If you’ve been doing the same routine everyday, change it up. Take a spontaneous weekend trip. Book a flight to a random city. Get away. Make less plans. Keep your life open ended. If you’re stuck at the same dead end job, quit and find a new job. You can always make time for things you are really passionate about.
16. Value in Person Contact – Meeting with friends and family in person allows for much more meaningful communication. You get to experience the proximity of their voice, their facial expressions, and you can do the same activities together. Meeting with people in person shows that they are important in your life, because you made time for them. They will feel the same way about you. Before substitute a catch up session with social media, know that hanging out in person will be more meaningful and make you more happy.
17. Limit Social Media Use – Put down your phone every once in awhile, especially when hanging out with friends and family. It shows that what’s most important to you is right here and now, and not somewhere else. Social media lets you zone out from what’s really going on around you, and you miss out on the moment. Be happier and enjoy the company of the people around you instead of resorting to social media.
18. Stop Dwelling in the Past – The past is over and done with. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly irrelevant in your life. If you dwell on past mistakes and “could haves” and “should haves,” then you are missing out on present opportunities. Live in the present and always look forward. You will be more happy with what’s to come than what has already happened.
19. Fulfill Yourself Outside of Money and Relationships – Self fulfillment is something that a lot of people miss out on in life. Why? Because they are too busy pursuing money or relationships. You need to find something you are interested in and fulfill it, other than money or a relationship. Find a hobby or interest and develop it to its fullest potential. Explore undeveloped talents and skills. Your future girlfriend / boyfriend / husband / wife will not respect you if you just live for finding your significant other. You will also feel empty inside if you only pursue money. Cultivate yourself.
20. Love and Respect Yourself – If you do not love and respect yourself, then who will? No one wants to associate with someone who has no self respect. If you are looking for someone to love you, you must love yourself first. Realize that every person has their own insecurities. Stop valuing yourself on your insecurities, because everyone has them. Value yourself on your strengths and other people will too.