How can we be happy?

This is a question that many of us have no doubt asked ourselves countless times in our lives – but we never really seem to know the answer to.

And we can’t blame ourselves, because even scientists who have been studying happiness for years have struggled to find an answer to this question. 

The concept of ‘happiness’ seems somewhat elusive. To a lot of people, happiness is something they think they’ll reach only once a certain lifestyle or certain amount of money is attained. Only then will they become happy.

This, however, isn’t how it works (which I’m sure a lot of you have already figured out by now!). You dated that guy, you got that job, you made ‘x’ amount of money…but you’re still. not. happy.

So what’s the big secret?

The secret to happiness

Alright – do you want to be let in on the big secret on how to achieve happiness and make it last?

Here it is:

Immerse yourself in the present moment.

Okay, okay – I know this isn’t groundbreaking stuff here – but it is something that many of us tend to lose sight of in the rat race of a world we live in.

Plus, it’s not as easy as it sounds! Most of the time (and especially when we’re feeling sad or anxious), we’re not living in the present at all – we’re stuck in our head living in the past or the future. Think about it – how often are you concerned about what to do next, what may happen tomorrow, what you did a week ago, what you need to do differently later…

It’s exhausting living in a different time frame!

So this brings me to my handy-dandy little trick – the trick that will bring you into the present moment and into a much happier state of mind…

Ask yourself: “how can I be happier RIGHT NOW?”

Many of us make the mistake of saying “I’ll do something fun later” or “once I’m done work I’ll do the things I like”. 

In reality, we need to constantly check in to see if there is anything we can do in THIS moment to make ourselves happier – and then actually do it!

Now, you can’t always do super fun stuff all the time (but wouldn’t that be nice if you could), so it’s more about increasing your enjoyment in the things you do everyday, no matter what things you’re doing.

Using this trick to help with stress and anxiety

This little happiness trick has helped not only in making me happier, but also in drastically reducing my anxiety. 

When I was in the depths of my anxiety a few years ago, I was constantly worried about something going wrong in the future. In other words, I was completely stuck inside my head. This way of thinking was totally robbing me of any happiness in the present moment.

Once I started using this trick, however, my outlook completely changed.

Now, this isn’t to say that this is the only technique I used to overcome my anxiety. Not at all. I’ve taken many other crucial steps in getting my anxiety under control – however, this particular technique was a life-saver in helping me learn to enjoy myself more!

So if you can start training yourself to constantly check in and ask yourself what you can do to feel better, I truly believe that your life will improve the same way mine did.

My personal story

Not only did this technique help me snap out of anxious mindsets, but it also helped motivate me to start doing things that would actually be beneficial to me. I’d like to share a few of my stories to show how this worked:

Story #1:

When I was traveling alone, I had to make friends fairly quickly. This was something I wasn’t super comfortable with – partially out of fear, and partially out of laziness. 

I decided, however, that if I wanted to be happier while traveling, I needed to be more social.

So if I was ever debating whether or not to go talk to people, I would just ask myself: “will talking to people make me happier today?”. And the answer was always yes!

After I did that a few times, it just became second nature to me. I knew that it would make me happier, so I didn’t think twice about doing it. From then on, I made so many wonderful connections that I am grateful for to this day.

Story #2: 

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I used to have pretty major anxiety over germs and getting sick.

When I was travelling from place to place, I would always stay in hostels. This meant sharing kitchens and sharing bathrooms with a LOT of strangers. As someone who used to be very anxious about germs, this was something that caused a lot of stress for me.

But what did I do to combat this? You guessed it! I started using my happiness technique. I asked myself: “is worrying about these germs going to make me any happier today?”. And the answer was no. So I decided to stop worrying about them

I know that this sounds super simple, but trust me – if you just stick with this technique and listen to yourself, it really is THAT simple!

For those of you who are busy

Whether you have cleaning to do, work to get done, or errands to finish – you can always find ways to infuse these daily tasks with more happiness! Just ask yourself that magical little question:

How can I be happier right now?

Perhaps you can put on some music, light a scented candle, sing along to a song, take a break and go for a walk, or look at a funny video on YouTube for a few minutes! You know what’s best for you, and you know what will make you feel good.

For those of you who aren’t really “busy” but are just sitting around wasting time on social media (or whatever your time-waster of choice is) – I know it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up and do something. But our handy-dandy question can also come in here:

How can I be happier right now?

We may think we’re happy just browsing Instagram (or watching TV), but really, most of the time it’s not making us truly happy and is actually contributing to our feelings of unease and anxiety (which this article does a good job of explaining).

So make a habit of asking yourself if there’s something you could be doing that would make you happier – and then go do that

For me, working out, going for a walk, calling a friend, talking with my mom, or doing a craft makes a HUGE (and almost instantaneous) difference in my mood!

Tips for implementation

1. Set reminders on your phone to ask yourself this question. You can even schedule it for every hour!

2. Put sticky notes and friendly reminders around your house/workplace/desk. You can even put them in your notebooks, pencil case, or anything that you use frequently throughout the day.

3. Start a morning routine. As soon as you get up, set an intention for the day of trying to be happier in the moment.

4. Try to make a habit of catching yourself in the act when you get emotional. Take a step back and reframe your mind. The more you do this, the more self aware you will become, and the more control you will have over your thoughts. Always remember that you are not your thoughts. You can choose which thoughts you listen to and which you don’t, so choose to listen to the positive ones.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try your best to ask yourself this question and get out of those bad moods, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. Being happier is an ongoing process that takes time and practice. Just be consistent and you’ll get there!