How to Be Happy Again

Finding New Ways to Be Happy

Portrait of happy young woman embracing girls while sitting on sofa at home during Christmas festival

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What does it mean to be happy? There are so many ideas and perspectives when it comes to being happy. By definition happy means characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

Truthfully, Your 'happy' is whatever it means to you. Of course, not everyone will agree, but that is to be expected because no two people are alike.

Strategies that can help you learn how to be happy include:

  • Figuring out what makes you happy (and what makes you unhappy)
  • Exploring new hobbies
  • Putting your own needs and happiness first
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Spending time with people who make you happier
  • Pursuing the things in life that will bring lasting joy and happiness

Have you been generally feeling down about things lately? What has caused that change? As you may have heard before, getting to the root of an issue will pinpoint the problem and ultimately tell you where you need to start working toward change.

The best way to do that is to compare and contrast; that's right, just like we did in elementary school. This article will help you figure out what could be preventing you from finding happiness and provides tips for cultivating your version of happiness.

A Comparison List to Find What's Blocking Your Happy

Before you embark on your happiness journey, it's helpful to list what makes you happy and what doesn't. After you make this list, you'll better understand what you need to work on to bring more happiness and peace to your life.

Below is an example of a list, yours can, of course, look different from this one. This is just to help you get started.

What Makes Me Happy
  • Meditation

  • Body positivity

  • Optimism

  • A good support system

  • Self care days

  • Mental health recognition

  • Passion for life

  • Less social media

  • Positive affirmations

  • Exploring nature

What Makes Me Unhappy
  • Comparing myself to others

  • Body shaming

  • Pessimism

  • Isolation

  • No personal days

  • Mental health avoidance/denial

  • Feeling unappreciated

  • Too much social media

  • Negative thoughts

  • Self-doubt and shame

Now that you have your list, what are you going to do with it? Review it and take a trip down memory lane. Try and track back to happier times in your life. When were you your happiest in life? Channel those moments and see if you can find that part of you again.

You may not be able to recreate those moments, but you can at least get inspired by them. Happiness comes in layers. And you may find that you'd like to explore newer options that bring you happiness, which is completely fine.

If you take a close look at the right side of your list, you'll see what you need to eliminate from your life to feel happier.

Is shame holding you back? Do you feel overwhelmed or alone? Are you having trouble loving the way you look? If any of these things ring true for you, it's time to address those negative feelings so you can work past them.

A therapist or other professional can help you address these roadblocks and provide you with tools that can help you overcome them.

How to Be Happy

There are so many avenues to explore in regards to finding new happiness. Below you'll find some tips to help you find your idea of happiness.

Find a New Hobby

When it comes to hobbies, the possibilities are endless. And the best part is, it's entirely up to you.

You can be as adventurous, creative, mysterious, or outgoing as you want. You can try out a new hobby alone or with friends.

According to Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS, a licensed psychologist, "It [hobbies] can serve as a fun distraction, but it also helps decrease stress and puts our focus on something fun and different. The key is to find something that will do just that for you."

Put Yourself First

As simple as it may seem, a lot of people forget to take care of themselves. Whether it's because of a busy work schedule, marriage, kids, family, pets, and friends, many people, specifically women, get little to no self-care.

When you put yourself first, your happiness will shine through for sure.

Taking time out for yourself daily can impact your mood, stress level, concentration, and productivity. Allowing yourself a moment to recharge not only allows you to be your best self but opens a window of opportunity to lend help to others.

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Let's face it, not everyone is a fan of exercise, but it has so many perks. You are doing your body a service by working out because the oxygen and nutrients to your tissues help your cardiovascular system.

The endorphins that you receive from exercise and physical activity are like little sprinkles atop a cupcake. All it takes is 30 minutes of movement to gain those natural "feel-good hormones" to improve your mood and health.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Your diet is more important than exercising because what you put in your body determines how your body responds. A healthy balanced diet will positively affect your mood and overall being. If you eat poorly (fried, high sodium, high-sugar foods), your organs will respond negatively. As a result, you will either have hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, or worse—all of the above.

Rachel Goldman

There is a relationship between food and mood. We have mood swings when we don't eat a balanced diet, but we also have mood swings when we don't eat. We become irritable, lack concentration, and focus without proper nutrition.

— Rachel Goldman

This doesn't go to say you can't treat yourself sometimes, but having a balanced meal with baked or grilled protein and vegetables will make your body stronger and your mind happier.

Choose Your Company Wisely

Choosing the company you keep is so imperative in life. Unfortunately, not everyone means well, and it's important to be aware of that.

"Having a good support system is known to help improve our happiness and well-being; just knowing that others are there for you goes a long way," says Goldman. Make it your priority only to allow people in your life that are beneficial to your mental health as you should be to theirs. Some friends can be toxic, and you won't even realize until you end the relationship. Happiness is contingent upon your personal and professional life choices.

Happiness is defined differently by every person. Though the things listed above are suggestions, you can use them as a starting point to gather an idea of your own.

Dr. Goldman also noted that having a routine and structure helps us feel grounded and balanced. Pets and plants have also shown evidence of positively impacting our moods.

It All Starts With You

If there is something in your life that isn't bringing you happiness you have to let it go. That can be relationships in any magnitude: family, friendship, or a spouse or partner. It will be difficult, but is it worth your peace of mind?

If you are unhappy with yourself, who's responsible? You guessed it, You! Be gentle with yourself and take baby steps. If you desire to lose weight, don't attempt to quit what you're doing cold turkey, that seldom works. Wean yourself off of your bad habits, and each day will be a little easier.

If you want a better job, or if you want to start your own business, don't quit your job, start saving until you can leave and be your own boss. Try to slowly eliminate stress from your life and you will begin to see results.

Happiness Is Possible, Again

The good thing about being happy again is, if you've lost it, you can find it. It is attainable whether you decide to reach back or move toward unchartered territory for a new place of happiness. Of course, life is unpredictable, and we aren't promised 365 days of joy, but we can strive to have more good days than bad. But even in those bad days, we can appreciate the good that we've experienced.

Results from a study demonstrated that engagement in meaningful activities as captured by hedonic and eudaimonic well-being processes might promote well-being outcomes.

This is quite intriguing information because hedonic focuses on pleasure, and eudaimonic pertains to engagement functions. To obtain happiness, you must have both. That's why it's essential to engage in things you enjoy, and it's often suggested to turn hobbies into careers. As the saying goes, "If you do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life." And that's where the pleasure comes in; if you enjoy the engagement process, pleasure will follow.

A Word From Verywell

Happiness is within reach, it's just waiting for you to grab it. Take the necessary steps to get back to your happy place. Once you eliminate all that's deterring you from reaching your ideal space, you'll be glad you did. So what are you waiting for? Get up right now and get your happiness back!

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bhullar N, Schutte NS, Malouff JM. The nature of well-being: the roles of hedonic and eudaimonic processes and trait emotional intelligenceJ Psychol. 2013;147(1):1-16. doi:10.1080/00223980.2012.667016

Additional Reading

By Candis McDow
Candis has been a mental health advocate since 2014. She has written several articles about mental illness, and her memoir Half the Battle (available on Amazon and encompasses her journey of living with bipolar disorder.