Where Does Authentic Happiness Come From And How To Get It

Updated October 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Happiness—it's something everyone wants, but you might not know how to get it. Most people don't understand where true happiness comes from. Some people think happiness comes from their situation, such as having health, wealth, and great relationships. But the truth is that authentic happiness does not come from our external circumstances, and you can learn to be happy.

Learning to Be Happy Is A Process. Find Out How To Find Happiness. Read More.

Along with exploring where happiness comes from, where it doesn't, and the importance of your decision, we're going to cover the following tips on finding happiness:

  • Stop behavior that is dangerous to your health.
  • Work on correcting problem situations from the past.
  • Think about happy things.
  • Understand the difference between fake and authentic happiness.
  • Accept yourself for who you are.

What Happens When We Don't Understand Where Happiness Comes From?

When people don't understand that they are in control of their own happiness, they search for something to make them happy. This can lead to a lot of problems including:

  • Marrying or committing to someone you shouldn't have.
  • Adding a child to an unhappy marriage.
  • Taking a job you don't like to get a big paycheck.
  • Sleeping around to fill the void in your life.
  • Turning to alcohol and drugs.
  • Cheating on your significant other.
  • Spending money you don't have.

As you can see, there are a lot of bad places we can turn when we try to find happiness. Here's the key—authentic happiness is in your control and can only be found within. There is likely not a person on this planet that can make you happy. There is probably not enough money in the world that can buy you happiness if you are not right within. You will not be able to consume enough drugs or alcohol to find authentic happiness. All of these things are just cheap fillers for the real deal.

Learning how to be happy is within everyone's control. And when you learn how to do this, you will have authentic happiness that isn't dependent on others or your situation.

Where Does Authentic Happiness Come From?

Authentic happiness comes from within. It comes from making wise choices, including choosing to be happy. When our external situation is going well, it might make it easier for us to choose happiness, but it is not the cause of it. You can be happy even when things around you are nothing like you would like them to be. You can be happy when you are in a job you hate, or when your relationship didn't end the way you wanted it to. And you can become happy when life isn't falling into the perfect plan you had in place.

Happiness is an internal decision you make. It comes from what you choose to think about, talk about, and how you choose to behave. You can create happiness within your life even when it doesn't seem like it should be possible. You aren't happy because the things around you are making you happy, you are happy because you ultimately choose your outlook.

The Unconscious Decision About Happiness

At some point in your life, you unconsciously decided what things would make you happy. Most everyone has something they think will make them happy. A better job? More money? A spouse/partner? A divorce? A vacation?

We all have those things in life we think will make us happier. It might not have been consciously chosen. It might have been a belief you learned from your parents or someone else in your life, but somewhere along the way, you decided that these things are what you need to experience authentic happiness. But eventually you discover those things don't fill you with happiness the way you thought they would, and then you are left deciding what to do next.

How To Find Authentic Happiness

Fawn Weaver says, "Keep choosing happiness daily and happiness will keep choosing you back." It's that simple. Being happy doesn't mean everything in your life is going well. It means you have decided you are going to overcome the challenges, look past them, and work toward being happy. So where do you start?

  1. Stop behavior that is dangerous to your health.

Sometimes there are things in your life keeping you from being happy. This could be staying in an abusive relationship or using drugs and alcohol. These things will pull you down. You may think you're experiencing feelings of happiness in those moments when your spouse/partner is treating you well or during a short time when you're experiencing a high. But it doesn't last, and staying in these situations is not safe.

If you are living in one of these situations or something similar right now, seek help in getting out. You can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).

  1. Work on correcting problem situations from the past.

The past has a way of catching up with us. If you have a situation from your past that is making it difficult for you to choose happiness, work on correcting the situation. This could involve asking forgiveness from someone else or choosing to forgive yourself or others. If you are living with bitterness or shame and guilt, it is going to be very difficult to choose happiness.

If you have been trying to fill your happiness void with "stuff," there is a good chance you may be living in financial debt. While you can choose to be happy even when you are in debt, sometimes the financial burden can weigh on you. You may experience stress each month as the bills come in. It's difficult to be happy when you are living in a state of constant stress. So, work on paying down your debt, or at the very least, stop spending money that you don't have. As your financial situation improves, you will not have to work so hard to choose happiness.

Don't confuse this with the idea that money will make you happy. Money is not the key to happiness, but financial burden can have a big impact on your stress levels. Choosing to use money wisely can lead to less stress and an easier time choosing happiness.

  1. Think about happy things.

There was something to Peter Pan's strategy to just "think happy thoughts." If you want to choose happiness, it helps to fill your head with positive and happy things. No one can experience authentic happiness if everything they think is negative. So, while thinking happy thoughts alone is not going to make you happy, it is one of the steps to getting you there.

Learning to Be Happy Is A Process. Find Out How To Find Happiness. Read More.

  1. Understand the difference between fake happiness and authentic happiness.

It's easy to fake being happy, but that's not real happiness. Even generally happy people will sometimes experience feelings of unhappiness or disappointment. It's okay to acknowledge when things are not going well in your life. If things are going bad and you are pretending to be so happy when inside you are not, you are not doing yourself or anyone else a favor.

When you are living with authentic happiness, you can see and acknowledge when something isn't going well in life, but you choose to respond positively with inner happiness anyway. It is a choice you are making. When you are being "fake happy," you act like everything that is bad is not a big deal and wear a fake smile while you are anything but happy instead. Don't be fake happy in an attempt to choose happiness. When you are faking, you are not "choosing" to be happy, you are simply putting on an act.

  1. Accept yourself for who you are.

It will be difficult to find authentic happiness if you are not happy with who you are. Instead of comparing yourself to others and thinking about all the things you are not, learn to accept yourself for who you are. If you are not happy with yourself, you cannot be truly happy with anything else.

  1. Seek Help

There are a lot of situations in life that can make it difficult to feel happy. If you find yourself in this place, talking to a licensed therapist can help you work through past hurts and obstacles in order to find authentic happiness. A therapist can also help you work on your self-esteem and learn to accept yourself, imperfections and all.

Research shows that online therapy can help people working through feelings of discontent or a lack of fulfillment. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers found that online therapy is an effective method of treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. The primary mode used was online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a widely accepted form of therapy that helps individuals reframe problematic thought patterns, so that they can better manage situations that may otherwise trigger sadness or other difficult emotions. Online platforms are increasingly being used for this type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

BetterHelp offers online counseling that is affordable and convenient. If you’re feeling struggling to find authentic happiness, have a question, or just want to chat, send your therapist a message any time, and they will get back to you as soon as they are able. The licensed therapists at BetterHelp can guide you on a journey to true happiness. You can read reviews of counselors below, from those who have experienced similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Andrea has been nothing short of wonderful since I started counseling with her. She always makes me feel heard and validated, while at the same time challenging me to question the way I think about and react to different situations. She is thoughtful, caring, and nonjudgmental. I have seen a huge difference in myself, my relationships, and my happiness since I started working with her."

"It has been a great experience working with Samantha so far. I am eager to continue to work together to continue to strive toward everyday happiness. Samantha is kind and a good listener. She will give advice but never push it on you, rather just offer an opinion that will provoke your next thought or feeling. Thank you Samantha for your help so far."


Authentic happiness is achievable, with the right tools. All you need to do is take the first step, and move forward to discovering authentic happiness one day at a time.

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