Much of the world’s population is on a continual mission to be happy — an emotion that may seem elusive at times or even like a secret code that you just can’t crack.
It can feel discouraging, and even disheartening, to compare social media feeds and feel overwhelmed by the feeling that you are lacking some crucial information when to comes to how to find happiness.
But feeling happy is possible — for all of us. And while there isn’t a specific formula, there are some things you can proactively do to be happy more often.
Here are five secrets to feeling happy.
Recognize that happiness is a transient emotion.
Because happiness is an emotion, it inherently has an expiration date. It’s not a destination where you arrive and then stay forever.
Knowing that happiness comes and goes sets the foundation for intentionally making the most of the times when you do feel happy. You want to tune in to it, appreciate it, and savor it.
Part of what makes happiness so impactful is that it isn’t something that we experience all the time. When we know that something doesn’t last forever, it makes the feeling all the more special.
Define what happiness looks like for you.
As much as you may want to be told the secret to happiness, the reality is that happiness is defined by the individual.
Make a list of the things that bring you joy and make you feel happy. Consider people, places, and things to create as comprehensive a list as possible.
If you struggle to come with a hearty list, scan back through your life, even considering childhood, and recall memories of times when you’ve felt at peace, present, content, or filled with wonder. Do any of those thing still evoke similar responses within you?
Focus on the little things.
As you create your list of things that ignite happiness, it’s easy to make the list about big things like vacations, beach days, and parties.
But if you limit your list to the big things, you’re probably missing out on many smaller moments that can actually have a huge impact on how you feel and also your connection to feeling happy.
Things like…going for a walk, sitting in the sun, drinking coffee or tea in the morning, a hug, connecting with someone you care about, a sweaty workout, eating good food, finishing a hard project, accomplishing a goal, dancing, singing, listening to music, laughing, and so much more.
Identify which of these resonate with you and if you can add any others to your list.
Connect with the physical sensations in your body.
Emotions are felt in the body, even though many of us aren’t consciously in tune with them. While the types of physical responses vary, common ones include a lightness in the body, loose limbs, a lack of tension, space in the chest, being able to breathe easily, and a tingling or fluttering sensation in the stomach.
The next time you feel joy, happiness, presence, or peace, tune in to what you are experiencing in your body. The more that you can connect with the body’s response to what you are feeling, the more you will enhance your connection with that emotion and thus make those moments more powerful and long-lasting.
Build upon what’s already working.
One way to capitalize on the experience of happiness is to start to become more aware of moments of happiness, especially the small ones. The more that you become aware of what’s working for you, the more you can actively try to bring about the same or similar experiences.
Your emotional experience is more in your control than you may think or feel at times. Awareness of how you feel moment-to-moment can support you in making connections about what people, places, and things positively influence your mood. As the saying goes, knowledge is power.
At times, happiness may feel unattainable. But with awareness and intentionality, you can not only appreciate the moments when happiness is experienced as well as cultivate more of these experiences by building upon what’s already working.
Remember that what makes you feel happy can change as you evolve throughout your life. Like many things, happiness is continually in influx, and it’s your responsibility to tune in and define what happiness looks like for you.