Inside: Learn how to be happy by implementing ten ways to fight discontent and find joy in your life.

In a world that constantly seems to be full of bad news, it can be a challenge to be happy.

And it’s not just current events that can make you feel unhappy. Advertisers want you to feel discontent with what you have because if they succeed they’re more likely to get you to buy a product that they’re trying to convince you that you need.

With all of the negative messages that come at you from various sources, it’s easy to wonder if choosing happiness is even possible.

Can you learn how to be happy? While it may not always feel as straightforward as that, there are ways to fight discontent and find joy. In this post, we will talk about ten of them.

how to be happy

How to Be Happy: 10 Ways to Find Joy in Your Life

Use the following ten ways to help you learn how to be happy in your life. By being intentional with your thoughts and habits, you can fight discontent and find more joy.

If you need more assistance beyond tips, find a therapist in your area to guide you through whatever you’re currently dealing with. There’s no shame in getting help.

1. Reflect on what you do have.

“Never forget that all you have is all you need.” -Sarah Breathnach

The lens through which you look at your life has a big impact on how you feel. Simple changes in perspective can help you to see a situation very differently.

This is not to say there are no difficult circumstances or hard seasons to navigate in life. There isn’t any denying that sometimes life throws you curveballs and some things are just challenging.

However, when you slow down and reflect on the things you do have in life it can help you to feel less stuck in your current situation.

By focusing on the abundance of all that you already have, instead of things you may be lacking, your feelings and perspective shift.

Choosing happiness isn’t always easy. Sometimes it may not feel like it’s even an option, but if doing some of the things on this list can help you to feel just a little bit better, it’s worth the effort.

friends smiling in a cafe

2. Look at your diet.

Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what your read, the people you hang out with and the things you subject your mind and soul to. Always be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” -Unknown

There are a lot of things that have an influence on your life. The people you spend time with, the music and programs you listen to, and the people and pages you follow on social media just to name a few.

Notice how those various things are impacting you. After watching, listening, reading, or communicating with people how do you feel? Pay attention to patterns and notice the effects they’re having on you.

If you want to stop being negative consider the people and things that are negatively influencing your life and your thoughts.

Limit those voices to the best of your ability. Unfollow and unsubscribe as needed.

Being aware of how your thoughts and feelings are impacted by the inputs you have in your life can help you to increase the positive influences and decrease the negative ones.

how to be happy

3. Find joy in the small stuff.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” -Henri Nouwen

If you want to learn how to be happy, look for things that make you feel grateful. Intentionally noticing even the simplest things that bring a smile to your face is a great first step.

Make a list of your simple joys in life. As you go throughout your day, pay attention to the little things that boost your mood.

As you continue with this practice, you’re likely to notice more things that make you happy, which brings us to the next way to fight discontent and find joy.

gratitude journal with flowers and tea

4. Start a gratitude practice.

“If all you did was just look for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.” -Abraham Hicks

The next step after noticing the simple joys is creating a daily gratitude practice in your life. A great way to do that is by using a gratitude journal.

You could do something as simple as challenging yourself to come up with three (or more) things you are grateful for each day. Write them down. Make it a habit.

This will not only help to continue to train your brain to look for things to be grateful for throughout your day but will also give you a written record that you can look back on.

If you prefer to write more than simply listing gratitudes, you can use these gratitude prompts to help you get started.

woman staring at cellphone

5. Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Unknown

How do you feel after spending time on social media or after flipping through magazines? Is comparison stealing your joy?

Comparison has a way of creeping in and making you feel like you’re lacking something. When you spend time on social media it’s hard not to compare your life to the highlight reels of the people you follow.

You see their curated feed and can get a false sense of what a person’s life is really like. It looks good on the outside, but there’s often more to the story than what you’re seeing.

It’s not just happening on social media either. Even something as simple as watching HGTV can cause you to compare your home with the ones you see on tv and make you feel less happy with what you have.

Opt out of comparison and unfollow the people, pages, or sites that make you feel less than. Your only competition should be yourself. Work to become the best version of you that you can be.

couple looking at their dream home

6. Adjust your expectations.

“I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.” -Bill Watterson

I read an article recently about a study that found that the average American felt that they needed $233,000 per year to be financially comfortable (and to be rich they’d need $483,000 per year).

And while I realize that inflation has drastically increased pricing, it also seems as though expectations have outpaced them.

Many people seem to have a distinct idea of what their lifestyle should look like regardless of whether or not it’s feasible or that they can actually afford it.

When expectations are set impossibly high, you’re setting yourself up for feeling discontent and possibly even like a failure.

It’s important to differentiate wants from needs. Resetting your expectations can help prevent you from overextending yourself and living beyond your means.

Choosing happiness is also about defining what is truly important in your life.

Focus on the things that matter and be willing to lower or readjust certain lifestyle expectations that are increasing your stress and causing you to feel dissatisfied. There is joy to be found in embracing a simpler life.

how to be happy

7. Define success on your own terms.

“Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get” -W.P. Kinsella

Another step in learning how to be happy in your life is to define what success looks like in your life on your own terms.

Society tells us to chase status. Try to climb the cooperate ladder. Work to acquire more stuff. Strive to upsize everything.

But what if you’d be happier not taking the promotion? Maybe opting to stay where you are allows you to continue to have a better work-life balance.

Success isn’t just about what you own or the paycheck you bring home. Take time to consider what your top priorities are and what you believe makes a successful life.

You’ll find more joy in pursuing what matters to you rather than chasing after what society tells you to.

woman counting money

8. Don’t obsess over money.

“The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living life on your terms.” -Chris Brogan

Along with defining success on your own terms, don’t endlessly chase more money. It’s an empty pursuit.

Money doesn’t dictate your happiness. There are people who don’t have much money who are happy and people who have loads of it who are miserable.

Does that mean that money doesn’t matter at all? No. It helps us to pay for necessities and niceties and can provide freedom and flexibility.

But there comes a point where there are diminishing returns in how much happiness it can provide. After the essentials are covered continuing to amass more and more wealth doesn’t guarantee a greater sense of happiness.

Money is a tool. It is not the be-all-end-all. And it certainly doesn’t define your value or worth.

Look for ways to simplify and save more money without being consumed by constantly chasing the dollar.

More money and more stuff won’t make you happy, but choosing gratitude can.

woman with arms stretched out

9. Let go of the past & forgive.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” -Steve Maraboli

Another key part of learning how to be happy is by forgiving and letting go of the past. Holding onto past regrets and mistakes will prevent you from finding joy in the present.

Holding onto emotional clutter keeps you stuck. By working through the past and learning to forgive yourself and others you can experience freedom in the present.

It should be noted that forgiving others doesn’t necessarily mean allowing certain people back into your life. You can choose to let go while still holding onto healthy boundaries.

If you need help processing past hurts, working with a great therapist can help you to unpack what you’ve been through. This deep work isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to unburden yourself so that you can embrace more joy in your life now.

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” -Roy Bennett

how to be happy

10. Do something for someone else.

“The best way to lift one’s self up is to help someone else.” -Booker T. Washington

If you want to feel happier, focus on doing something kind for someone else. When you take your attention off of yourself and think about how you could make someone else’s day, you will find joy in that process.

It could be something as easy as sending an encouraging text, dropping off a meal to a friend having a hard time, or bringing someone flowers unexpectedly. Offer a helping hand or do something simple to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

Small thoughtful gestures can mean the world to someone else and you’ll feel great knowing you helped to brighten their day. While the goal is to make their day happier, you’ll find joy in the process too.

Want to know how to be happy? Try some of the suggestions in the post & let us know how it goes!

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  1. Such a worthy article! 🙂 I DO try to practice these often….and this post is a “good reminder” to keep working on them! My hubby n’ I also might add that “you need to laugh every day”!! (AND we seem to do that!) LAUGHTER IS HEALTHY in so many facets of one’s life! KEEP SMILING! 🙂

  2. brilliant list overall, I definitely will bookmark it. That said, the financial part is a bit off in that a lot of us are working too many hours not because we want more material goods but because we are paying just for the basics alone (not coupled).

  3. Sometimes I’ve had a hard time letting go of the past. Thoughts often come back. I know I’m in a good place and am grateful for what I have. Just to have good people supporting me, no matter what comes.

  4. When I make a solid effort to be positive in my outlook, to be appreciative of the many good things around me, to see the good in my family, my friends, the beauty outside my window, to smile more, to be grateful, it works!

  5. Doing something for someone else seems to be the key for me, personally! After years of struggling, I’m finally stable, but it can be hard to enjoy it when I look around and see other people close to me not able to have a steady job, own a home, get good healthcare, find a life partner, etc. It’s a priviledge to have what I do and it took a village to get me here – so I share what I have. driving neighbors without a car to run errands, showing up for my city’s affordable housing board meetings, and keeping in touch with my local representatives who help nonprofits cost me only time and a little gas, but it helps people!

    1. For me it’s worries of the future that steal my joy. I’ve been down certain paths with my alcoholic significant other and unfortunately history tends to repeat itself. Not knowing what you’ll come home to, what the next hospital visit will entail, what to share or not share with coworkers/friends. General uncertainty and the inability to change another person pushes me to search ways I can control the atmosphere of my own mind, (including decluttering our home) regardless of circumstances. Admittedly, however, it’s a battle that I often struggle.

      1. yes I use to be comparing myself to my sister who is way smarter than me now I don’t any more & am much happier thanks to your advice

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