How To Achieve Lasting Happiness

By Danni Peck |Updated April 4, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Karen Devlin, LPC

Pits of despair can be endless cycles because environment fuels mindset and mindset affects interaction with the environment. A majority of Americans either have suffered from depression or know someone who has.

But depression is not an inherent aspect of the human condition. In many other cultures, cases of depression are few and far between. The fact of the matter is that there are evidenced-based methods for avoiding depression and learning how to feel happy. The million-dollar question: How can you be happy through the ups and downs of life? Here are several ways:

Mix up your routine

A feeling of apathy and unhappiness may spring from living life on repeat. If you don't mix up your routine a bit, you may feel stuck in a haze of days-having trouble distinguishing one day from another. Sure, you may have an inflexible job or school commitments, but if you really want to know how to live a happy life, you must take advantage of your unscheduled time.

Happiness is found in the balance of comfort and newness. For instance, having daily hygiene, work, exercise, and eating routines can help you maintain a sense of comfort by grounding you in your body and in your surroundings. But meeting new people, trying different activities, and cultivating an open mindset add spice to life and encourage you to continue growing and developing-a key aspect of happiness.

Celebrate success, no matter how small

If you wonder how to find happiness, you may want to pay special attention to the way you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk can be a huge contributor to feelings of depression. Often, individuals talk to themselves in a hostile, critical manner that they would never direct toward a friend. Learn how to be happy with yourself by being your own best friend.

Just as a friend would recognize and celebrate your successes, you must do this for yourself. The human tendency is to focus on failures more so than successes, or criticism over praise, but doing this is a surefire path to depression. No matter how small the success, it is worth celebrating.

Connect with Nature

If concrete and skyscrapers comprise your idea of nature, you may be missing a key ingredient of happiness: natural beauty. All cultures throughout history have not only developed a connection with nature but have viewed themselves as a part of nature. Rediscover nature to learn how to be happy in life.

Although Western society is hectic and bustling, nature is patient and calm. An old adage teaches: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." Learning to slow down and appreciate surroundings can contribute to feelings of lasting happiness.

Mindfulness

Communing with nature is an effective way to achieve happiness because it facilitates mindfulness or connection with the present moment. Instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future-two common features of depression and anxiety-a mindful person fully engages in the present.

It is difficult to achieve happiness without being fully aware of the present. You can begin to cultivate mindfulness through meditation, which simply involves sitting in a relaxed position and focusing on the breath and bodily sensations. You can also eat mindfully, savoring every flavor of every bite instead of rushing through meals. In fact, you can do anything and everything mindfully!

Gratitude Journal

A human tendency is to focus on what we don't have, rather than what we do have. Unfortunately, this creates feelings of dissatisfaction and even jealousy. But turning your focus from what you don't have to what you do have, will engender feelings of contentment and gratitude.

People who regularly write in a gratitude journal tend to be less depressed. To start this practice on your own, you don't need to buy a fancy notebook; you simply need a pen and paper. Before bed is a great time to journal because thinking about what you are grateful for may help you sleep better.

Simply start by listing five to ten things you appreciated during the day, and eventually, you will be listing fifty to one hundred things each day!

Religion or Belief in Higher Power

Many religions teach that the way to lasting joy is through a belief in and reliance upon a higher power. If you feel alone in your struggle, and that you are struggling for no reason because there is no real plan or purpose for your life, you are likely unhappy. A belief in a higher power goes hand-in-hand with the belief that you are not alone and your life has a purpose. Purpose and companionship are necessary for happiness. Through religion, you can learn how to be happy, or at least less sad.

Help Others

If you are unhappy, chances are that you are focused on yourself. People who are outwardly focused tend to be happier. By volunteering at a homeless shelter or underprivileged school, you may begin to understand that you are not alone in your struggle; everyone struggles and needs help at some point. You can learn how to be happy with yourself by providing the help that someone else needs.

Who knows? You might even form connections with people who will one day help you. Or your own problems might shrink in comparison to others' problems.

Develop Real Connections with Others

If you are unhappy, you may choose to isolate yourself from others to avoid dragging others down. But this is a mistake. It is precisely when you are unhappy that it is important to be open and honest with other people about your feelings. Developing a trustworthy support system contributes to happiness. Everyone needs a confidant. People are often hesitant to share difficult times but eager to share vacation pictures or college acceptances. If you are open and honest about your difficult times, others will feel that they can turn to you in times of need.

Targeted Social Media Usage

Many researchers believe that social media usage makes people lonely because it reduces the number of daily face-to-face interactions. Connecting with others through a screen is not the same as sitting down with a friend at a coffee shop.

When it comes to social media, the unhappiest people are the ones who passively scroll through other peoples' status updates and pictures without commenting or making status updates themselves. The happiest, least depressed people are the ones who actively comment and message others and use social media simply as a way to keep in touch with people. Social media will never take the place of face-to-face interaction when it comes to happiness.

Self-Care

If you wonder how to get happy, you may need to practice healthy self-care habits. Developing a healthy self-care routine may involve meditation, relaxation, nutritious meals, massage, etc. Becoming a happy, self-actualized, fulfilled person who can be of help to others first requires self-care. If you spend little to no time each day taking care of yourself (beyond basic hygiene), depression may envelop you.

Develop Independence

Healthy relationships are crucial to happiness, but without self-confidence and independence, healthy relationships will not form. Unhealthy attachment styles, in which one partner is completely dependent while the other is dominant, can be very damaging-especially in a marriage relationship. If you wonder how to have a happy marriage, consider that both partners need to have independence and self-confidence.

If you are single or divorced, you may wonder how to be happy alone. The first thing to realize is being alone is not the same as being lonely. In fact, many people enjoy personal solitude and find that they can think deeply and accomplish much when they are alone. You can learn how to be happy single by going to a coffee shop or restaurant alone and fully appreciating the empowerment, freedom, and time to yourself.

Consider Life Changes

If you are unhappy in your job or marriage, consider what you can do to make things better. Do not simply submit to a negative environment, thinking that you have no other options. Life is too short to be unhappy, so if you are unable to make changes within your work or home environment, it might be time to move on.

Online Counselor

Learning how to get happy is an important skill to have, especially with rates of depression on the rise. An online counselor can help you determine the best way forward, considering your particular situation and goals. It often takes the advice and wisdom of an objective observer in order to accomplish the daunting but rewarding goal of lasting happiness.

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