33 Time-Tested Ways To Find The Key To Happiness

What is the key to happiness?

Not just fleetingly happy but deeply content with your life?

Have you figured out how to maintain that contentment so that it's the undercurrent that runs through all of the ups and downs of daily life?

Finding the key to happiness isn't about finding external things, events, or relationships that boost you up. It isn't about attaining more money or power.

Real happiness, the kind that brings you a sense of inner peace and well-being in spite of outer circumstances requires new mindsets and habits.

If you'd like to open the door to that kind of sustained happiness, you may be using the wrong keys. Here are some ideas for developing a foundation of true contentment and joy in your life.

33 Time-Tested Ways To Find The Key To Happiness

1. Surround yourself with people who make you smile.

Studies have shown that we are the most content when we are around other happy people. Stick with people who exude joy, and let that feeling rub off on you.

Try to let go of people in your life who are negative, unpleasant, and who drain you.

If you can't let these people go completely, minimize your time with them and create boundaries to protect your optimism.

2. Stop worrying.

Everyone worries about something, yet most of our worries don't come to fruition. People often worry about the future, but the future can't be known.

Try not dwell on the worst case scenario — it's detrimental to your health.

Focus on the present moment, the task or situation at hand.

Don't waste your time thinking about things that are out of your control.

Remain open to whatever life has in store for you and assume that what is in store for you is positive.

3. Detach from what other people think of you.

Avoid thinking about what other people think of you. In the end, it doesn't matter. Be true to who you are rather than hiding behind a façade to make other people happy.

There will always be people in your life who don't like you as can't please everyone. Just strive to be your best self, and the people you want in your life will respect you for who you are.

4. Hold on to your values.

Your values consist of your core principles that guide your life. The more you live your life aligned with your values and honor their importance, the better you will feel about yourself.

If you haven't taken time to define your core values, today is not too soon to get started. Clarify your values and make the necessary life changes to honor them.


Related Post: The Ultimate List of 400 Value Words


5. Don't compare yourself to other people.

This can be difficult, especially if you are active on social media or find yourself around people you perceive are doing better than you are.

However, being envious of other people and comparing yourself to them will just make you unhappy.

Becoming too invested in other people's lives can make you lose track of your own journey.

You have to remember that everyone’s situations differ, and you only see a snippet of someone's life when you are comparing it to your own. Strive to compare yourself to your best vision for yourself and acknowledge improvements and small successes along the way.

Use the successes of others to inspire and motivate you rather than bring you down.

6. Socialize frequently.

Humans are social creatures, and we are wired to connect with other humans. If you ask people at the end of their lives what brought them the most happiness, the answer is nearly always relationships.

Being social is important to your overall health, happiness, and well-being.

If you isolate yourself, you will feel isolated, lonely, and depressed.

Cherish the people you love and foster your own joy through regular social contact.

7. Acknowledge the positive things in your life.

Take an overall, objective look at your life. What is working well? What makes you fulfilled, enthusiastic, satisfied, and joyful?

Acknowledge these positive parts of your life and do your best to focus on your gratitude for them rather than dwelling on the less-than-desirable aspects.

Man looking at water, key to happiness

8. Choose to be happy.

With an open mind and positive thinking, you can choose to make happiness your primary goal instead of letting other areas of your life overshadow it.

You can choose to have a positive attitude at any time.

Your conditions are continuously changing, so choose to welcome each change with an open mind, and your life will unfold better than you ever thought it could.

Even when bad or difficult situations arise, after you grieve through them, look for the lessons you can learn and the positives you can find in the ashes.


Related Post: 99 Ways To Enjoy A Ridiculously Happy Life


9. Forget (and heal) the past.

Avoid thinking about things that have gone wrong in the past. What’s done is done. Do not obsess over the things that you can no longer change.

Live your life moving forward and focus on how you can make things right in the present moment.

If you are carrying deep wounds from past events or trauma, take action to heal these wounds by seeking counseling.

Don't allow this pain to infect your potential for a happy life.

10. Imagine your successes.

Think about the things that you really want and imagine yourself getting them.

Often, people don't envision themselves achieving their goals because they don’t want to be let down if things don’t go as planned.

However, envisioning the things that you want as though you've already attained them is a big part of making them happen.

11. Appreciate the journey.

While you are working toward your goal, whether it is a project at work or something in your personal life, appreciate the journey as much as you focus on achieving the final product.

The truth is, life is about the journey, so you can't let your life pass you by while you only look towards the future.

Each step of the way is a small destination to celebrate and enjoy.

12. Find work that you love.

Happy people feel passionate about their work and love what they do every day. They don’t simply work to make money — the work they do also brings them satisfaction.

Staying in an unfulfilling job that pays the bills will quickly lead to unhappiness. Money is only one aspect of your job and life satisfaction. Find a job that makes you feel respected and appreciated.

13. Enjoy what you do.

Beyond doing work you love, find the ways to enjoy and have a happy life every single day.

Sure, you may not be able to live on vacation, but as long as you can do the things that you love every now and then, you will find that you are happier.

14. Have realistic expectations.

Studies show that the main motivation of happy people is their level of contentment.

This means that you are likely to be happy if you are satisfied.

Don't have unrealistic expectations that you may never achieve. Setting realistic goals will cultivate happiness because you will pursue the things that bring you joy.

To be happy, you have to acknowledge the things that you have and cherish them as well as work toward attainable goals

15. Forgive and forget.

You aren't doing the other person much harm by holding a grudge, but rather you are hurting yourself.

You may not have to personally forgive everyone who has ever hurt you, but forgive them in your mind so you can have closure and move on with your life.

16. Find your purpose.

People who contribute to their community or to the overall well-being of humanity in some way feel better about their lives.

It's fulfilling to be part of something bigger than yourself and to leave some kind of meaningful legacy. Serving others in even small ways has been proven to boost your happiness levels.

17. Look at challenges as opportunities.

If you see a hurdle coming up, look at it as an opportunity to learn something new.

You may discover a new strategy to overcome this hurdle in the future, or you may find that you experience personal growth while you are facing your challenges.

Don't view challenges as negative events that have to hold you back. Face them with confidence and a growth mindset.

18. Live with gratitude.

Be thankful for all of the blessings you have in your life and express your appreciation and gratitude to everyone who deserves it.

Or express it to the universe for all of the amazing wonders you get to experience in this world.

Expressing gratitude increases your positive feelings, especially when you experience someone else's kindness. Relive your positive experiences which is beneficial to your mental health.

Focus on the people, things, and events that you are grateful for and bask in these feelings of gratitude until you are overflowing with it.


Related Post: 101 Of The Best Appreciation Messages To Show Your Gratitude


19. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Don't waste time worrying about things that won't matter in a year or even in a week.

Worrying over small misfortunes isn’t worth the effort, whether you are stuck in traffic, having a bad hair day, or you show up late for a meeting.

Small, irksome things are simply a fact of life, but they shouldn't infect your positive attitude.

20. Listen to your heart.

You are the only person who can determine what makes you happy.

Don't do something because your family thinks it's best for you, or society is telling you that it should be the next step in your life.

It can be tough to follow your heart, but it's necessary in order to feel authentic and truly happy.

Following your heart might mean making some changes in your life that are difficult in the short term but that have a long-term impact on your well-being.

21. Be kind.

Treat everyone with kindness. It is so easy to do and creates such a ripple of positivity in the world.

Kindness helps other people feel better, but it also makes you feel good after a positive interaction with someone else.

Offer your kindness even to those you think don't deserve it, and you'll be surprised how it softens their hearts.

22. Speak positively about other people.

Speaking negatively about someone makes you look worse than the person you are talking about.

When you put other people in a good light and share the best about them, those listening associate you with that positivity and are more likely to want to be around you and to trust your integrity.

23. Smile more.

Smiling is contagious and makes you more attractive to others, but it can also trick your brain into being happy even when you're feeling down.

Smiling creates a chemical reaction in your brain with dopamine and serotonin that makes you feel happier and less stressed.

Happy children, key to happiness

24. Take personal responsibility

You are the only person responsible for your happiness. Once you realize that it is not someone else's job to make you happy, you will have the power to of control over your destiny.

Don't blame your unhappiness on other people or the world. We all encounter difficult people and challenging circumstances, but we can only look to ourselves to create solutions and make good choices going forward.

25. Eat healthy foods.

Your diet has a direct impact on your energy and mood.

Eat a lot of organic, locally grown produce, as well as nuts, whole grains, dairy, and lean protein which are full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to properly function.

Avoid foods that you know are unhealthy except on rare occasions.

View your body as a temple and treat it with tender care. When you feel good physically and know you are taking care of yourself, you will feel more positive in general.

26. Keep learning.

Adopt the mindset of a life-long learner. Whether this is through reading books or attending classes, keep expanding your knowledge. This will keep your mind challenged and engaged.

Also look to other people who have different ideas, beliefs, and opinions so that you expand your awareness and challenge engrained mindsets.

27. Declutter your stuff.

Declutter your home so you aren't living with unnecessary stuff in your way.

Clutter is a common source of stress that leads to feelings of anxiety, distraction, and frustration.

You want to feel good in your own living space so make it your sanctuary by maintaining its cleanliness.


Related Post: Cleaning House: How To Declutter And Organize In 10 Minutes A Day


28. Be open to change.

Change is an inevitable part of life. It will happen whether you like it or not, so always be prepared with a plan B and try to embrace change that you create or that comes your way unexpectedly.

Yes, change can be scary, but if you view it as a door opening rather than one slamming shut, you can welcome change rather than being afraid of it.

29. Reconnect with the outdoors.

Take some time during the day to be silent and listen to nature. This will create a sense of inner peace and happiness to help you meet the challenges in your life.

Observe the natural beauty surrounding you and appreciate all of the details that you can find in nature.

Studies have confirmed that time in nature reduces stress and makes you feel more relaxed and positive.

30. Find joy in the simple pleasures.

Think about the people who love you, your favorite memories, small jokes between friends, your favorite city, and the comfort of your home.

These are the things we often take for granted that foster a happy life. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

When you look back over your life at the end of your days, you will remember these simple pleasures with more fondness and joy than you remember the big achievements.

Put more time and effort into simple pleasures, and you'll be investing in happiness for a lifetime.

31. Practice meditation and deep breathing.

Your mind and body are connected. Your emotions affect your body's physical systems and the state of your body has an impact on your mind.

When you practice meditation and deep breathing, you are able to relax and release tension through your breath and feel calmer and centered throughout the day. Watch my interview below with ABC News anchor and NY Times bestselling author, Dan Harris.

(check out Dan's book, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works)

32. Get more physical activity.

Exercise every day. Sweating and increasing your heart rate not only helps purify your body, but it also releases endorphins that can prevent stress, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve your mood.

If you can't go outside or to a gym, do something jumping jacks or run in place until you are breathing hard.

Do some push-ups and other weight-bearing exercises to improve your strength.

33. Develop a positive mindset.

Without having a positive outlook on life, you will not generate much happiness.

Living with a positive mindset requires constant work, but the rewards that you reap from it are worth it.

The truth is, everything in your life happens for your highest good, even if you don't realize it.

Seek out an positivity in everything that happens, even if it seems like the end of the world.

Seize the glimmer of hope or goodness to be found even in dark days and hang on to that with all your might. It will be a lifeline leading you to happier days ahead.

Final Thoughts

Finding the key to happiness is possible for you, but sometimes it may feel like it us just out of reach.

Practicing these techniques will shift your perspective and help focus on the happiness-fostering elements of life.

Of course, you will have times when you are sad, worried, angry, or upset, but when your default mode is positivity, you'll have a much easier time finding your footing and feeling optimistic again.

The key to happiness is in your hand, but it's up to you to use it every day so that you can walk through the door to a happier life.