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How to Be Happier: Not Your Average Happiness Tips

Happiness. Something I’ve thought a lot about recently. I’m convinced it’s something we’re all after, but sometimes it’s hard to allow ourselves to attain it. When I was a young teenager, I decided what made me happy, and I never really questioned it. I always thought I was happy; I lived my life on emotions, and I was pretty good at indulging in things that brought me joy. It never mattered what it was, I deserved it. I wanted to be happy always, and I was in no place to get in my own way. But as I get older, my definition of what makes me happy changed. I’ve learned that happiness is so much more than feeling an adrenaline rush or reaching an important milestone. Here are some things I’ve tried to find new ways to prioritize my happiness.

1. Ask questions 

This may sound like a weird one… asking questions makes you happy? Well, in short, yes. This was a skill I really had to work on and develop. For me, questions just don’t come easily. It’s possible that it’s because I’m incredibly naive and have a short attention span, but we’ll put that to the side. Now, when I think of questions, I’m so proud of myself. I know that may sound strange, but I used to be really embarrassed to admit this, so I think I’ve come a long way. Asking questions isn’t everyone’s weak suit, but it is mine. In the same sense, I encourage you to find yours. In academia, there’s something we all could work on, and that’s holding us back from achieving our full potential. There’s nothing like feeling proud of myself for something that didn’t necessarily come easy, especially academically.

2. Work on a new skill

This one seems obvious, but it’s something I never actually spent time doing. I believed that it worked, but I never really had the time to dedicate to it. This is partly because, once I reached a certain age, I decided the things I was good at, and the things that I wasn’t. It became almost a personality trait that I just never questioned (the irony is hitting me, refer again to point 1). I didn't realize how wrong I was, and that skills literally come from repetition. The skills I’m working on in quarantine so far are baking, painting, cooking, etc. I never thought of myself as an extremely creative person, but now I can’t stop creating. Your new skill will impress you when you see improvement-- consistency is key!

watercolor painting

3. Listen more, it will help 

It’s common knowledge that helping others is supposed to make you happier. I realized that helping others doesn’t always have to be in the ways that you may immediately think of. I’ve always thought of myself as being a good listener and pretty observant, but I usually don’t act on the information that I acquire. Listening and acting on things you pick up on are so important. It’s vital to listen to people’s insecurities or desires that slightly leave their mouth, almost like an accident, and do more than just hear it, but help them. I think that’s the greatest help of all. Help that they weren’t sure they needed, and that they weren’t sure how to ask for. That type of help mends your heart. I’m sure of it.

4. Participate in a gratitude practice 

This one sounds a little random, but really isn’t. I started doing this for a class I was in to practice gratitude (yes, as a Human Development major, these are your homework assignments). You can find your own on GGIA's website! The one I chose was to use mental subtraction. Thinking about a person in your life, all the instances you wouldn’t have met them, and all the assets they bring to your life. Understanding that your life could have happened very differently, at least for me, makes you feel so grateful. It’s easy to become busy and never really stop and think about how blessed you are (I’m not very religious, blessed just felt like the right word). I highly recommend participating in a gratitude practice to help boost your mood.

5. Let the moments pass, no one's always happy 

This one I still struggle with, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think most people are so good at hiding this part of life. There are blue days, and there are yellow days, and even some grey days. It’s okay to live in the moment and understand that each day has a purpose. The great part about life is that it is constantly changing, and you need to hold on to happy moments every chance you get because things might change. Happiness is an emotion, and emotions come as quickly as they go. It’s unrealistic to feel happy all the time, and it’s okay to embrace other emotions. Everyone’s human, and everyone experiences a fluctuation in emotions. I’m not sure if this makes me a seven-year-old, but Disney’s movie Inside Out tells an amazing story that shows how no emotion can live alone. Because of sadness, we’re able to feel happy, and vice versa. You can be grateful and sad all at once. It’s important to allow those emotions to surface and give them the space that they deserve. After all, when you truly accept all of yourself, you’re able to feel that happiness in its truest form.

A girl looking at herself in the mirror smiling