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what makes you happy


When Was the Last Time You Truly Thought About What Makes You Happy?

We spend a lot of time over the course of our lives thinking about making money, getting fit, impressing our bosses, and generally ticking boxes on a bucket list that someone else came up with. When was the last time, though, that you really sat down and thought about what you wanted, and what made you happy?

Often, the key to happiness isn’t a nice car or a posh house, or even a high powered job. There are many simple things that you can do that could give you a sense of wellbeing and happiness.

girl thinking positively

Think Positively

Learning to quiet negative thoughts, and focusing on positive ones will make you happier in the long term. Practice either telling yourself to ‘stop’ when you are thinking negatively, or go one step further and mentally go through a process of discarding those thoughts. It’s often easier to stop ruminating on negative thoughts if you can ‘discard’ them. Yes, the thoughts might come back, but in the short term, you’ll be able to think about something else. Over time you will get better at stopping those negative thoughts, and you’ll find that they crop up less often. You can use the power of your imagination to think positive thoughts and to motivate yourself too. We all have an imagination locked away in our brains. We were good at using it when we were children, but we have been taught to be ‘responsible’. It’s time to unlock your inner child!

In doing this, be careful not to scold yourself for thinking negatively - this can often lead to more negative thoughts about yourself. Instead, allow the thought to pass through, but don’t place any importance on it. Be removing significance from the thought, you will be able to lessen its negative power over you.

Positive thinking really can help you to be healthier, live longer, and have more positive experiences. 1 It may seem like a platitude, but optimism is a trait that is worth cultivating, because it helps maintain positive thinking, and makes it easier for you to take positive actions. If you’re spending all your time worrying, you can’t improve your situation.

couple taking picture on mountain

Enjoy Experiences

Focus on enjoying experiences and making memories instead of buying things. You will build up happy memories that will last you a lifetime. Try living a more minimalist lifestyle. Think for a moment. Do you still feel happy when you think about the iPhone 4 you used to have? Or is it just useless now because it’s so many generations old that it doesn’t run the things that you want to use? Now think about the last holiday you went on with friends or loved ones. Does that still make you smile?

Experiences don’t have to be expensive either. You can have a staycation and make good memories. You can make friends helping out at the local youth group, and get the satisfaction of helping people there too. Some researchers do believe that you can buy happiness, 2 but only by spending money on other people. The act of giving is more satisfying than the act of spending money on yourself. Why not make some time to do one nice thing every day. It doesn’t have to be a big or time-consuming thing - just make one person smile. Doing so will make you feel a little happier as well.

Learn From Monks and Yogis

You may have noticed that monks, yoga practitioners, and others who lean towards the spiritual are often more serene than those who do not. Your personal beliefs may or may not align with those specific spiritual beliefs, but that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to believe in a higher being to learn some lessons from the philosophies of those who do.

Some monks do tens of thousands of hours of meditation , where they contemplate compassion and unconditional love. Those who do yoga try emptying their minds, and thinking about the moment, forgetting for a while about the things that overwhelm them. This can be a hugely effective way of beating unhappiness.

Remember, how you feel is determined by what’s going on in your mind, not where you are or what you own. Find something to think about makes you happy, and you will feel happy. 3

man sitting at desk smiling

You Are in Control

Some people make the mistake of saying they would “just be happy if….”, but the things that make them happy never come along. If you just sit and wait, that’s going to be the case. You have the power to make the changes that will allow you to feel happy.

Find a new hobby. Take some time to ponder what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy, and try to avoid the negative influences. Researchers at Harvard spent 80 years following a group of male study participants and found that the ones that were happiest in their relationships maintained general well-being. 4 Surround yourself with people that make you happy, and you will find that life is so much better.

woman taking bubble bath

Take Time for You

Make some time in your day-to-day routine to take care of yourself too. Even little things like an aromatherapy session or a nice relaxing, scented bubble bath can make a difference to how you feel and to how you approach the day.

Vanilla, for example, can help with positive outlook on life, although the calming impact of that scent can also make people feel cozier and want to stay inside. 5

If you’re faced with a hard day at work or college and want a quick boost, then aromatherapy could help you to face the challenges of the day in a more positive way. Get off to a positive start, and you’re more likely to create more things to be positive about.

Photo Credits: Max4ePhoto/, DudarevMikhail/, wavebreakmedia/, NinaBuday/

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