10 ways to add more happiness to your life
Story by Randy Taran
Do you want to be happy?
Of course you do! Most people do. The real question is: What does happiness mean to you? Happiness means different things to everyone. Ultimately, it isn’t something that you have or you don’t. Anyone can be happy, but sometimes people forget how to get there. Here are 10 tips to tap into the happiness inside you.
- Know your strengths. Ask a few people who care about you (parents, close friends, teachers) what they see as your three greatest strengths. Do the same for them. Then find ways to use those strengths every day. Let your awesomeness show—and inspire others with it.
- Choose your mindset. When something bad happens, you can either choose to give in to your “inner critic” or recognize that your inner critic is trying to take over. Let’s say a class presentation didn’t go well. You could let your inner critic win when it says, “I’m always bad at this type of thing.” Or you could take a more positive look at what happened and say, “Next time I’ll prepare and be ready.” Which perspective will you choose?
- Give thanks for what you have. Before you go to sleep, think of three things you’re grateful for: having a great conversation with a friend, enjoying some good food, finding that thing you lost. They can be anything, big or small! Believe it or not, this simple practice actually works.
- Make it contagious. When people act angry, they often trigger anger in others. Similarly, happy people tend to attract more good stuff. Emotions (whether happy, sad or angry) are contagious. Being on the lookout for happiness brings more of it back to you.
- Just breathe. Life is busy enough as it is, so keep some quiet time for yourself. In a stressful situation? Pause before the stress escalates and take a few deep breaths. Meditate, explore nature, do whatever works for you.
- Connect. Share an experience with a friend. Tell each other the best thing that happened yesterday or last week and why it was the best thing. Choose your friends (not “frenemies”) wisely. Relationships rule.
- Remember your body. Give your body a break. Take a walk. Eat some real food—not a processed sugar puff. And get enough sleep. Your mood, mind and body will not only thank you, but they’ll give you the fuel you need for your next adventure.
- Be kind. Do something nice for someone else. As a Key Clubber, you probably already know the fastest way to make yourself happy is to make others happy. To feel good, do good.
- Find the flow. What activities grab you so much that hours feel like minutes? What makes you feel alive? American author and civil rights activist Howard Thurman has a great quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs of you. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. What the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Choose a dream and don’t give up. Each step will bring you closer to your goal. Challenges will come up, so plan ahead and be flexible. If one door of opportunity closes, try another one (or maybe check the window). If it’s important to you, go for it. Who knows what’s right around the corner?
Happiness is definitely not:
- Seeing through rose-colored glasses. Life happens, but you can be in charge of your emotions instead of letting them run you.
- Selfish. It builds friendships and opens you up to share your authentic self with the world.
- Something that you can pursue and capture. Joy from getting the latest gadget or fashion trend fades. If you want real happiness, look inside.
About the author:
Randy Taran is the founder of Project Happiness, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with resources to create greater happiness and well-being within themselves and the world. Project Happiness has inspired people in 80 countries.
To explore the question, “What brings lasting happiness?, Randy produced a documentary film where students from three continents worked together on this quest, interviewing George Lucas, Richard Gere, neuroscientist Richard Davidson, and ultimately, the Dalai Lama.
An experiential-learning curriculum grew from the film, integrating current research in positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness. These programs are being used in classrooms and youth programs globally.
Randy speaks regularly on various happiness and youth-related issues, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She is the mother of three and currently lives with her husband and their two dogs near Palo Alto, California. Randy is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher and holds her MBA in International Business and Marketing from New York University.
About Project Happiness:
Project Happiness is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people and empowering them with resources to create greater happiness and well-being within themselves and the world.
Our programs are used in all 50 states in the US and in over 80 countries. Drawn from research in positive psychology and neuroscience, Project Happiness’ strength-based approach teaches vital social and emotional skills. Using books, film and educational programs, we’re empowering children, families and communities to create happier, more meaningful lives.
Through our strength-based curriculum, we are working to help create a world where:
- School bullying will no longer be a socially accepted behavior
- Young adults will be taught to know and value their passions and personal strengths, and become more compassionate to themselves and others
- Building one’s character will be as important as building one’s resume
- Success will be measured by the degree to which we experience meaningful, fulfilling lives (not just by our job titles and credentials)