How To Achieve Lasting Happiness

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti
Updated December 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

One's environment can fuel one's mindset—and one's mindset can affect interaction with someone's environment. This thought suggests that we, as humans, can have the power to put ourselves into cycles of sadness, happiness and any emotion in-between—possibly inferring that our thought patterns are one of the most powerful tools we have to address our mental health experiences. 

Read on to learn more about thought patterns and wellness strategies that can foster happiness, and how you can implement them in your life—starting today.

Are You Experiencing Persistent Sadness?

Mixing Up Your Routine

A feeling of apathy and unhappiness can come from living life in excessive routine. If you don't mix up your daily process a bit, you may feel stuck in a haze of days—possibly causing you to have trouble distinguishing one day from another.

While many may have an inflexible job or school commitments, it can still be possible to live a happy and autonomous life—you generally just have to take advantage of your unscheduled time.

Many might find that happiness can be 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. Conversely, meeting new people, trying different activities and cultivating an open mindset can add spice to life and encourage you to continue growing and developing task, which many consider to be a key aspect of happiness.

Celebrating Success, No Matter How Small 

If you’re in the pursuit of happiness, it can be helpful to intentionally monitor the way you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk can be a contributor to feelings of negativity and mental health conditions—such as depression. 

Many might begin this task by working to be their “own best friend.” This generally means taking charge of one’s self-care routine, speaking kindly to oneself and maintaining healthy boundaries that safeguard your mental health and self-interests. 

Connecting With Nature

Natural beauty can be a key component of our ability to feel happy, grounded and safe in our environments. We see this in history, as many cultures throughout history have not only developed a connection with nature—but have viewed themselves as an integral part of nature and their surrounding environment. 

Although Western society can be hectic and bustling, nature can be patient and calm. Learning to slow down and appreciate your surroundings can contribute to feelings of lasting happiness.

Mindfulness

Communing with nature can be an effective way to achieve happiness, possibly because it can facilitate mindfulness and a connection with the present moment. Instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future—which many consider to be two common features of depression and anxiety disorders—a mindful person can fully engage in the present.

It can be difficult to achieve happiness without being fully aware of the present. However, mindfulness is regarded by many to be one of the most convenient forms of self-care available. For example: You can begin to cultivate mindfulness through meditation, which generally involves sitting in a relaxed position and focusing on breathing and bodily sensations. This is something that many might make time to do in their “off-time” or in times that do not require intense mental concentration, such as during travel. 

You can also eat mindfully, choosing to savor every flavor of every bite instead of rushing through meals. Many take this practice and discover that there are many other things you can do mindfully including exercise, work and many other daily tasks.

Gratitude Journaling

Are You Experiencing Persistent Sadness?

Many might find themselves focusing on what they don’t have rather than what they do have. This can create feelings of dissatisfaction and even jealousy—which, if left unchecked, can contribute to perpetuated feelings of unhappiness. 

Turning focus from what you don't have to what you do have, however, has been scientifically suggested to promote feelings of contentment and gratitude—which can contribute to happiness.

People who regularly write in a gratitude journal, for example, have been scientifically suggested to be less depressed.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can begin by listing five to ten things you appreciated during the day, working to build your list as time goes on.

Religion Or Belief In A Higher Power

Many religions teach that a way to reach lasting joy can be through a belief in and reliance upon a higher power.

A belief in a higher power can go hand-in-hand with the belief that you are not alone, and your life has a purpose. Purpose and companionship are considered by many to be necessary for happiness, suggesting that many may learn to be happier through a connection with religion. 

Helping Others

If you feel persistently unhappy, you may find yourself in a place of intense self-focus. Currently, science suggests that people who are outwardly focused can be happier overall, possibly feeling a sense of higher purpose to their actual physical action. 

By volunteering at a homeless shelter or underprivileged school, for example, you may begin to understand that you are not alone in your feeling of struggle. Many might experience hardship and need help at some point.

You can also benefit from feeling the human bond of community that these opportunities can bring, offering a type of benefit that extends to both the person helping and the person being helped. 

Developing Real Connections With Others

It can be easy to isolate yourself from others if you’re feeling unhappy. However, human connection can be a powerful force for many as they work to foster happiness. 

Additionally, many find that they would benefit from having a confidant and support system. If you are open and honest about your difficult times, you can receive any help or support you need from this system—and others might feel that they can turn to you in times of need. This can further deepen the connection within a given system and benefit those who participate actively in it. 

Targeted Social Media Usage

Many researchers believe that social media usage can make people lonely because it reduces the number of daily face-to-face interactions. Scientific sources do corroborate this, finding details that support that less social media usage generally correlates to better mental health outcomes. 

Self-Care

Self-care can go a long way in fostering a healthy, self-actualized daily experience—possibly setting the foundation for a lifetime of appreciation for simple daily joys. While routines can look different for everyone, a healthy self-care routine may involve meditation, relaxation, nutritious meals and exercise.

Considering Life Changes

If you are unhappy in your job or current stage of life, you may consider what you can do to make things better. It can be empowering to realize that you do not simply have to submit to a negative environment, thinking that you have no other options.

Trying Online Therapy

If you’re looking for new ways to foster joy in your life, an online counselor can help you determine the best way forward in the context of your particular situation and goals. 

The format of mental health support can be especially appealing, as the journey to lasting happiness can feel overwhelming to some. Online therapy can be conveniently utilized in most situations, only needing an internet connection to function. 

Is Online Therapy Effective? 

Online therapy has been noted to be effective for self-discovery and healing in many, specifically for those who may be experiencing the effects of depression. 

A cited meta-analysis published by UCLA has found that online therapy was scientifically suggested to be an effective form of support for those who live with depression—and that the results extended over 40 evaluated studies in total. 

Takeaway

While there has not yet been a singular source of lasting happiness defined, many have found that happiness can come from many sources—such as mindfulness, resolution of trauma and more. Addressing roadblocks that could be affecting your quality of life can be a helpful place to start for many. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.

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