How to be happy

Do the things that happy people do.

Some might say that happy people do certain things BECAUSE they are happy. Others might propose that many times doing these things can MAKE people happy. My own personal opinion is that it is probably a combination of the two.

My regular readers know that I suffer with depression, though under control now with medication. Even in a depressed state, by doing some of these things listed below, you can affect a change in your mood. If you begin acting AS IF, you will probably start to feel that way. Regardless, it can’t hurt to try, now can it?

6 things that happy people do (and you should too!)

Happy people express gratitude and thankfulness for what they have in their lives. We all have things to be grateful for, even in the darkest of situations, one can usually find things that they are appreciative of. And when you start to show appreciation for something in your life, it tends to open your mind and heart for you to receive more.

Avoid comparing your situation to those around you. There are a lot of people who are doing better than you are and if you focus on them, you will continue to stay down. If you want to compare yourself to anyone, compare yourself to those who have things worse than you. If you live in America or another developed country, you are better off than most people in the world. (see #1)

Learn some coping strategies for dealing with stress. Think about how you respond to stress. Do you get in a panic? Learn to breathe deeply when you feel that panic rising up. Do you overeat? Learn to munch on celery sticks or go for a walk instead. Do you get angry? Consider how your response is not productive and instead think of some action items you can do about the situation instead.

Learn to enjoy the things of life. I don’t necessarily mean the big things. Open your eyes to the little things, such as: the smell of coffee brewing, the fresh air when you step outside in the morning, the big grin when you get your little one from the bed in the morning, the loving look you get from your partner. One way I like to do this is to buy fresh flowers often (I look at the clearance buggy at the store!) I put them on the island in the kitchen where I can enjoy them throughout the day.

Connect with your higher power. For me, that is with God. I understand that others may ascribe to a different philosophy, but there are some similarities. Belief in something bigger than yourself gives you a sense of purpose and meaning in life, something to strive for, to make something of yourself by helping others. People who are not happy tend to be focused inward, if you believe in something bigger than your life, you will begin to focus on those around you and how you can contribute to their life.

Take care of your body. I am not saying you have to be an athlete, but get into the habit of moving on a regular basis. Increase your heart rate a few times a week. Doing so increases the endorphins in your body which helps lift your mood overall. Regular exercise has been shown to do as much good as antidepressants in some  people, with no side effects.

What are some things that you do to increase your happiness?


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15 comments to How to be happy

  • I totally agree with focusing on how good we have it here in America. I try to keep in mind that many others don’t have access to clean water, medicine, etc., and we are so fortunate to have so much right at our fingertips.

  • Take some time every day to spend on your passions and interests.

  • Along with the excellent things you’ve suggested, I do a couple of things.

    1. I exercise. Pumping endorphins always seems to make me feel better. You would think that something that makes you feel so good would be easy to do, but it isn’t. I almost never want to start, but I’m always glad after I’m done.

    2. Drinking enough water. When I began to battle my way out of depression, I was surprised at how much just drinking enough water helped.

    We really do have some control over our depression. It’s hard to see your way out when you’re in it, but there usually is. Reading your blog, Bernice, helps me to stay focused on doing the things I need to do to stay sane.


  • Oh, the keeping up with the Jones’. If you try to do that, pretty sure you’ll never find happiness.

  • Martha

    So many of your tips are important! I so appreciate my church family and the connection to a larger family world wide. Yoga has been a very important part of my being able to deal with chronic pain in my life. Pain certainly can create a cyclical affect resulting in depression. Water, water, water! We have a wood stove which increases the potential for dehydration if one is not careful. I am grateful for much in my life with all it’s challenges and changes. Grateful that life is not stagnate but that there are always opportunities to learn and grow!

  • Claudia

    I learned to stop stressing about unimportant things and try to think about why other people succeed at being happy…they just do it effortlessly, not seeing the end of the world in every little worry that they have, making a joke out of their problems and laughing at themselves instead of feeling ashamed about who they are and accusing themselves of not being “beautiful enough”, “smart enough”, etc…

    Just thinking about what an amazing person you are will make you happy. There are people who lack all their limbs and who are happy, people who have nothing to eat who can be happier than people who overeat.

    Instead of eating compulsively, I’ve learned to stop telling myself “S**t! This is really bad and it’s getting worse”, and tell myself instead “Ok. I have a weakness. But this is not going to take over me. Tomorrow is another day.”

    Also, it’s helpful to stop thinking sometimes. Praying is also a great tool!!!

    Peace and love!

  • You are right about all of these and I do one more…I try to identify what steals energy and what delivers energy. For me, certain music, or writing, or meditation help to fill me in a real way. I believe those are God-implanted sources and I access them without fear.

  • Helen Jenkins

    What great advice. I love JoAnne Potter’s strategy of identifying what steals energy and what delivers it. I have two other suggestions. One is not to fill my life with noise, but to use peace and silence to seek to open my heart to God and hear His voice through Scripture and through the Holy Spirit within. The other is not to stay in that place of withdrawal but to deliberately come out and do things with people, just ordinary human fellowship, kindness and conversation. Join something. Help others. Do an activity. Depression makes you withdraw and sink further into depression and that withdrawal pattern must be broken. We need to be in balance between healthy solitude and involvement with others.

  • Ruth Fidino

    I agree with Emily. Do things you are passionate about every day.

  • Cool! I do all of those, perhaps that’s why I’m happy? :-)
    Nice to read I’m on the right track (well 99% of the time anyway!) … One thing I’d definitely add is to practice acceptance. This isn’t to mean be a doormat, but just accept that some things are the way they are, it’s not because you didn’t try, they just are…

  • Great tips for being happy, and similar to the habits and practices I’ve formed to live my best life!

    Real happiness comes from within, and I have to stop waiting for my external situation to be what I want for me to be happy. Developing positive, healthy and self-supporting attitudes and behaviors nurtures happiness from within!


  • I agree with all of these. I think gratitude can overcome just about any mood–just that the worse your mood is, the longer you need to spend meditating on your blessings. :)
    Jamie (@va_grown) recently posted..Wallets for My BoysMy Profile

  • This is a wonderful post and I love all the ideas you shared for keeping the happiness quotient flowing. I incorporate many of them in my daily life. Another way I add joy into my life is by spending time with and appreciating the people in my life (friends, family, colleagues and clients.) Being connected to others and being able to share the good and the challenging things makes me feel grounded and happier.

    I blog about organizing and life balance. Recently I wrote a post called, “5 Tips for More ‘Happy’ in Holiday.” While it was holiday focused, the concepts can certainly be applied to any day or time of the year. If you’re interested, here’s the link:
    Linda Samuels recently posted..Recombobulation AreaMy Profile

  • Using music to affect (not reflect!) my mood.

  • I sometimes just sit and just breath. great list. thanks for sharing it.