How to increase happiness

increase your happiness

How does happiness affect your life? What truly makes you happy? How can you get more happiness?

Everyone has different answers to these questions and not everyone achieves as much happiness as they like. But there are some simple techniques to increase happiness for you and for others.

Happiness is an important emotion to have in life. Most of us grow up with a natural flow of happiness from love ones and friends which purely fuelled organically. With age, some lose these blissful relationships and happiness takes on a path of achievement or status.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success”

-Buddha

How does Happiness affect your life

I’ve noticed that my meaning of happiness has changed immensely over the past 10 years. In fact, something that would have bought me joy many years ago would almost do the opposite now. I can see how this can cause depression for some as they feel their sense of happiness from years ago is gone. But what I’ve found is, the sense of happiness just changes and sometimes you just need to find it again.

As this meaning of contentment moves through cycles, you will feel highs and lows. At the lows, you will feel empty like there is something missing. You can’t quite put your finger on it until you direct yourself to what happiness used to mean to you. This is a pitfall and has the potential to burrow you down to dark places.

Then you find your flow, light is shining joy from your heart. A new meaning of happiness that you have never had before. Enjoy this, accept this and know that this may also pass.

On this rollercoaster of happiness, it may not just affect your mood, health and performance but also the individuals around you. Vice versa, other people’s levels of happiness will also affect your energy.

It’s important to accept all stages of life’s ups and downs and know that your happiness level will fluctuate. Its at the highest and lowest points where we should be grateful for all moments of happiness.

 

What makes you happy

Endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and other feel good hormones from a chemical stand point. These create those tingling feelings of joy when doing things you love.

Moving into the material happiness, some would say money, status, cars, sports, holidays and all these exciting or rewarding components of life can be the main source of happiness. If you strip back and remove them from your life, what else makes you happy?

Using a gratitude journal really opens up your mind and shows you what really brings you happiness when you take away material things. I’m not saying material things don’t bring joy, but do they represent a meaningful happiness?

It’s also strange when you hear of millionaires not being able to find joy in life but some of the poorest folks in the world can be the happiest you’ll ever meet. This comes down to perception of your situation. Shawn Achor in his brilliant book The Happiness Advantage explains that our perception is like a fulcrum lever and we have the power to put the weight of happiness where want on the fulcrum.

After using a gratitude journal almost every day for the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that I’ve subtracted more material items which previously bought me happiness. I’ve become less of a consumer, more clutter free (physically and mentally) and thankful for different and sometimes smaller things in life. My appreciation ranges from a warm cup of coffee in the morning, enjoying company with friends or family to being thankful I have great eye sight to see the world. This has increased my perception on happiness and has made it more abundant.

Here are some other happiness hacks:

Happiness Hack 1 – The Smile Effect

My favourite hack to instantly increase my feeling of happiness is smiling. You may think, no shit, if you’re smiling you’re happy right?

Say you’re sitting in traffic, not where you want to be and feeling bummed.  Just start smiling. A real genuine smile. Keep holding it (you may look funny to all the non-happy drivers beside you) and before you know it, you’ll start to feeling happier. Then, you’ll start to think happier thoughts out of nowhere. Think I’m crazy, DO IT RIGHT NOW.

There is a bit of science behind this. As you pull a genuine smile, the muscles used in the face are familiar to you smiling when your happy. The brain senses your face is in smile mode which helps the body to produce those feel-good hormones.

So people that naturally smile are more happier and more optimistic .

Happiness Hack 2 – Less News, More Happiness

Many of us are slaves to the news on TV, newspapers, radio and news feeds on the webs. I have reduced and ignored these for the past 3 years and decided to consume only content which fits with improving quality of life, performance or stories that excite me.

After removing all the negative news feeds from my daily practice, I had a major boost of happiness and less anxiety about the terror displayed.

Now I have had bit of back lash from friends saying that I’m not keeping up to date with the latest headlines and issues. But quite frankly, I don’t mind if my happiness baseline has risen. I also still get to consume great articles, podcasts and movies of my choice.

Happiness Hack 3 – Sweat every day

By this I mean exercise regularly and work your body until you break. Doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and workout hours away. Try some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). You’ll be sweating in minutes and getting a great work out.

There are countless studies showing the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health. If you have these moving in the right direction, happiness is far easier to achieve.

Even a simple 30 minute walk a day can have brilliant effects on your happiness, but breaking a sweat will boost it to the sky.

Happiness Hack 4 – Always have a quest

Always having something to look forward to or a plan to do things that you want to do or achieve is an important way to stay happy. This reduces falling into the slum of boredom and gives great substance to visualization which is another great way to invigorate happiness.

Having a quest really is an energizer bunny for my life. It helps me to perform much more and do it with a smile on my face.

“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived”

-Bruce Lee

What do you do to increase your happiness?

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38 Comments on How to increase happiness

  1. Wow this is a great post. I have recently myself had an epiphany on life. I felt like I was a grateful person for what I had, but a friend of mine said something along the lines that I hadn’t appreciated what I had a certain time and took it for granted. She didn’t mean anything mean behind it but it really took me back a step and made me realize how I may be appreciate some things but I wasn’t grateful for all the good that I do have. Using a gratitude journal is an excellent idea and something that I am definitely going to start doing. I actually have as the lock screen of my iPhone “I am grateful for:___” and its just a constant reminders to me to think of something that I am grateful for before I open my phone.

    • Brilliant idea Bailey with the phone lock screen. It shines gratitude into your heart every time you pick up your phone.
      Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi! I think that sweat every day is the best formula to actually increase happiness. I am really active, I play tennis everyday and workout every night. I beleive that this help me to handle stress and forget about some problems for a moment. Thank you so much for sharing these tips with us!

    • Thanks Javiera. If we all would get out of our comfort zone and sweat some more, many would get the array of health benefits.

  3. Love, love, love this read. You are absolutely correct about the emotion of happiness and how it affects our lives. I loved your tips especially the one about removing news feeds. I did this recently because I noticed myself getting really down and upset about the political landscape in our country. It really did pull me down and I had so much anger and resentment. My family members were arguing with each other about our political views and it got to be horrible when it should never have. However, I noticed that once I stopped listening to what was happening, I started to feel better. I like your point about always having a quest. I find myself to be someone who needs to have something to do, something to look forward to. When you are in a slump, it is hard to find a quest to fulfill, but I think, like you said, writing things down can help. Anyhow, thanks for this post. I have shared it because I think all people need to find happiness, especially in this day and age 🙂

    • Thanks for the share Melanie. I really appreciate it.
      I had the same thing happen with politic and bad event news with family and friends. Turning off from it has had amazing happiness boosts and I’ve never looked back.
      All the best.

  4. Happiness is a state of positive pleasant emotions, a well-being that encompasses living a good life with a sense of meaning, deep satisfaction and contentment.

    Mine advice in addition to what you have said is to set achievable goals and work towards it daily.
    You should develop a loving character. You can never be happy when all you do is to make others look sad. Love attracts love. Good job.

  5. Great post Vince, and I agree with you 100%. I use the smiling tactic when my kids fight with each other or are upset. I get them to stand in front of me and I make them do the biggest smile they can. Sometimes they need more convincing than others but when they do it, they always walk away laughing and are back to their happy selves.

    • That’s a great tactic Darren. I’ll try that with my kids next time they’re brawling (which is way to often).
      Thank for comment.

  6. I really enjoyed your article, super interesting and complete and as you said happiness does not depend on having many material goods but rather enjoy what we have. Thanks for sharing this article, many people need to read articles like this.

  7. Hello Vince

    Interesting post! The meaning of happiness changes over years and stages of life, I felt it but I just could not accept it and put it in words until I read this post. I know what you mean when you talk about material happiness, they just make up happy for that moment and don’t last. I love the idea of smiling when I am stuck in traffic and I will give it a try haha it actually makes me laugh because I can imagine other people weird faces but who cares I will try. I am happy at least I don’t read newspaper so at least I am on track with that. Thank you for sharing, great ideas and really enjoyed it.

    Thanks
    Raman

    • Yes I’ve had the sour faces in the cars next to me give me the strangest looks at my wide smile to. Sounds like you’re naturally happy Raman. Thanks for your feedback.

  8. Hi Vince,

    Great post buddy. Happiness can be so elusive to a lot of people. For me meditation is where I find it. After all it is already inside all of us, we just have to find it.

    Meditation is a great portal.Your 4 points are spot on. Less news is a must these days with all the crap going on in the world. Less TV, less news, less newspapers, less Facebook news stuff. Really makes the mind negative.

    Smile, exercise and have a quest. Love it! What is your current quest Vince? Mine is to travel around Europe next year for around 3 months.

    Cheers, buddy,

    Kev

    • Thanks for the feedback Kev. Europe sound like a fun quest. I did 3 months of Europe back in 2006 and it was epic.
      I have a list of quests that keep me motivated:
      My Family: Striving ways to be a better husband and father with the little time I often have. Teaching my kids new skills if a fun one. We’re working on climbing this month.
      The Blog: Helping people improve their quality of life through (hopefully) useful content, even if I can help only one person improve their life.
      My Fitness: Currently trying to move my max pull ups from 9 to 15 (it slow progress at the moment).

      Good luck with Europe planning.

  9. Thank you Vince. What a nice article. I particularly enjoyed the two sections on the gratitude journal. First and most importantly, because I know it works. Also, it makes perfect sense and allows reflection. A great read, and thanks for sharing. :o)

  10. I like your take in finding happiness. Looking at from a physical point and understanding the brain stimulants is knowledge we should keep in mind during our daily activities. It will keep you on your toes

  11. My journey with happiness looks quite a bit like yours. Isn’t it funny when you strip things way back, the happier you become? Usually people are looking for more, better, faster and material abundance in their search for happiness. But when you come down to it and strip back, the happier and more grateful you become. I love the tip of smiling when you don’t feel like it. It’s amazing how the body responds physically to your smile and the feel good hormones flow! Look forward to more of your posts.

    • Thanks for your feedback Linda. You really do find true happiness once you strip everything back. It makes you evaluate so many things in life.

  12. Hi there

    I loved reading the bit about the majority of us being slaves to the news. I find that my mum is definitely a big slave to it, hence why she’s always on the look out for threat!

    Some other things which have helped me to be more happier.

    1) Write 3 new things which you’re grateful for each day. (This trains your mind to focus on the good)
    2) Stop resisting your inner state.
    3) Stop hanging around toxic people
    4) Help other’s as much as possible (preferably in a way that massively changes their life, but anything is great!)
    5) Read personal and spiritual growth books

    Plus many more, I could go on haha

    Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – I can’t argue with that 😉

    Thanks

    • Great quote from Aristotle. A major point you mention is to stop hanging around with toxic people and this is significant for many changing their perspective on happiness. This could also be a hard point as some feel they may be cutting off (or spending less time) long life friends.

      Reading books on spiritual growth, motivation and my favourites in laws of attraction.

      I really appreciate your feedback Lawrence.

  13. Hi, I really love this article. I can relate to what you are saying. My top two mood lifters are smiling and exercise. Including laughing no matter how serious the moment might be. It helps me not to get down in depressing situations. I have also noticed that if I start my day off with exercise, most times I jump rope, my mood is very lively through out the day. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for sharing Ami. I’m the same when I start my days with exercise, everything just seems to fall into place.

  14. Hi Vince great post man. You summed up the 4 happiness hacks very well there. Exercise is a great mood changer and it makes me sleep so much better at night.

    The quest I believe is the most important aspect. For many of us it is the bigger picture which keeps us getting out of bed with such energy every day. Smiling is such a simple trick which I need to do more of truthfully.

    I am going to start writing in a journal to perfect my daily routine. After reading this I may start including what I am grateful for as well.

    Keep it up Vince

    • Appreciate the feedback Peter. I can guarantee you that including gratitude in your daily rituals will have a profound effect to your life.
      Please follow up and let me know how it goes for you.

  15. Great article Vince! I have just started doing HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) and have to say that when I finish, the endorphin’s and dopamine have me feeling pretty good.I am also fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment, this is due to the fact that I have now lost almost 75 lbs.. As a result of this I have more confidence and have the most meaningful sense of joy…..happiness!

    • What a great story Matthew. HIIT has had profound effects on my mood and body.
      We really appreciate you sharing your success story. It will give so many motivation to increase their happiness.

  16. Hi Vince
    Really like your ideas for happiness. I’m never more happier when I’m either swimming or kayaking, both are good for the body & mind !! I will have to try some of the other techniques out when I’m feeling down.
    Keep up the great information.
    Paul

  17. Vince even reading your post makes me feel happy. I think the best is developing an attitude of gratitude, being thankful for even the little things like a warm cup of coffee ( I prefer mine hot)
    The exercise is another great hack that really works. Sometimes if I feel a bit flat a walk along the beach with my dog will soon have me back in happy land. You have outlined some great tips for a healthy and happy life. I agree skipping the news is a good one, it is always bad.
    A great site, and so well written.
    Thank you.

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