Happiness can seem fleeting and momentary at times. What is it that happy people do differently? Happy people developed a habit of being and only doing those things that bring them happiness. Here are 11 things that happy people frequently do to bring happiness into their lives. And these are things you can start doing today.

1. Decide to Be Happy.

Happiness really is a choice you have to make. Many of us get it wrong: We think that happiness is a byproduct of success, be it a high-paying job, a successful business, raising a family, or achieving a goal.

Ever heard of this old saying?

If I have the money, then I will do the things I want. Finally, I will be happy.

Yet, dissatisfaction and sadness often keep us from doing the things we want. We lack the enthusiasm and the vigor to do those things in the first place that we think will ultimately bring us happiness. I want to challenge your thinking a bit, and turn it around:

I will decide to be happy. Then I will do the things I want. Finally, I will get the money.

Wow! What a shift! I still remember the excitement and ah-ha moment when this was first presented to me. I thought about it for days afterwards. It has had such a large and profound impact on my life that I still talk about it, even after all these years.

2. Practice Gratitude Daily.

When you start practicing gratitude, you re-frame your perception of the world. Whereas in the past, we tend to look at opportunities and resources as scarce, practicing gratitude helps us see limitless abundance. By being grateful for the here and the now–even in the absence of the very thing you desire–you put yourself in harmony with the good that you desire. In other words you, start moving towards what you want.

Did you know that you cannot get to your desires and your dreams from where you currently are? You have to first come from the place of your dreams. You have to first believe in it in order to see it. Gratitude gets you believing it so that one day you will see it. Spend a few minutes in the morning, afternoon, and just before you go to bed, writing out 5 things each time for which you are grateful.

I’ve personally found it useful to use this time even during your break at work to recharge your batteries. The time you spend quieting your mind while writing out your list helps put things into a different perspective.

3. Practice Affirmations Daily.

Affirmations are simply positive, proactive statements you say to yourself. After all, how is this different than the negative mind-speak that occupies most of our inner dialogue?

Personally, I’d rather hear the recording of my brain tell me why I can do something instead of why I cannot. These statements can be something as simple as…

  • I am deserving of success and a good life.
  • I enjoy exercising and eating healthy foods.
  • I release [insert name of someone who really bugs you here] to his/her higher good and me to mine.

What’s important when saying these affirmations is repetition. We learn through repetition. Also, be emotionally vested when you compose your own affirmations and recite them. They should make you happy, excited, passionate, appreciative, blissful, and in general feel good. Hence, the name AFFIRMations!

4. Meditate Daily.

Take up the practice of meditation in order to help you keep focus and keep on track with your gratitude and affirmations. Through deliberate practice, meditation quiets your inner monologue and quells your negative mind-speak. Find a quiet place and sit upright in your favorite chair. I prefer this to the cross-legged imagery we all hold as sitting in a chair is much more comfortable.

Concentrate on your breathing as you slowly breathe in and out, dismissing with zero judgement and opinion any thought that enters your mind. Gently shoo them out of your mind. Now, as you constantly concentrate on your breathing, slowly relax every muscle in your body:

  • Starting from the top of your head, deliberately focus on relaxing the muscles in your head that you think with, your ears, your jaws, and your nose.
  • Moving down, relax your shoulders, your chest, your biceps, your arms, your hands, and the tips of your fingers.
  • Moving further down, consciously think about relaxing your stomach, your hips, your legs, your knees, your feet, and your toes.

All the while, concentrate on your breathing: Breathe in and out. Dismiss any random thought that enters your mind, without judgement or reservation. The idea is to develop a razor-sharp focus over time, develop the ability to manage the stressors in your life, develop the fortitude to respond to situations in a way of your choosing, and to ultimately find inner peace.

And one more thing: You’ll probably find your mind wandering the first few months of trying to meditate. Or, even falling asleep. That’s okay!

5. Laugh More.

Find things to laugh at daily, whether it be putting on your favorite comedy while eating dinner, reading satire, or just playing with your pet. You might even consider laughing for the sake of laughing, as a change in your body affects your brain chemistry, which ultimately affects your mood.

Laugh and you will find yourself actually feeling better, even if you have been a sourpuss for hours beforehand. Consider joining a laugh yoga group and surrounding yourself with positive, upbeat people. Laughing also helps you look for the good in things. Are you starting to see how things happy people do are synergistic?

6. Enjoy the Little Things.

The ability to express gratitude and joy for the little things is important to achieving more happiness your life. Simple things include a smile someone gave you, a cup of hot coffee on a cold day, a walk around the block to stretch your legs, a call from someone you love, and even just finding a dollar or two in the jacket you last wore months ago.

As you can also guess, finding joy in the little things opens your awareness to the abundance in the world. In this case, the abundance of things that bring you joy and bliss.

7. Exercise Three Times a Week.

I won’t tell you how good exercise is, for both your mind and your body. I won’t tell you that exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which is that feel-good high. I also won’t tell you that exercise leaves you feeling positive, reduces stress, alleviates or staves off depression, and increases your quality of sleep.

What I will tell you is that exercise boosts your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence. You feel more energetic and develop a new vitality for life. You will develop a discipline that you can apply to other areas in your life. So, safeguard your wealth and your relationships by ensuring that you will be healthy to enjoy them.

8. Spend Quality Time With Your Loved Ones.

Part of practicing gratitude, laughing more, and enjoying the little things is to spend quality time with the people you care about. They could be your lover, your children, your parents, your friends, or just your pets.

After all, life is mainly about serving others and helping to bring value into their lives. We are all fundamentally the same and want the same things. When you realize this, you will eventually learn to stop judging others for their appearance and start developing your compassion.

9. Make Time for Yourself.

While it’s important to spend time with loved ones, it’s also important to carve out time for yourself to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries. Spend time exercising, reading a good book, listening to music, meditating, writing, cooking, hiking, practicing your craft, or whatever it is that makes you happy.

Master your craft. When you master something, your self-esteem and confidence grows. In the process of doing so, you learn more about yourself while you develop greater focus, intuition, will, reason, awareness, and perception.

10. Stop Blaming Other People

Happy people learned a long time ago to be proactive. Unhappy people tend to blame others for their conditioning and problems.

By being proactive, you assume the mantle of responsibility for the direction your life is heading. Despite all outward appearances that control lies with someone else, you realize that there is really only one person who is responsible: You.

More importantly, you take responsibility for your life. Instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t do this because of that person, thing, condition, environment, etc.”, you start asking yourself, “What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?” In other words, you go from looking for reasons why you cannot to what you can do.

11. Start a Healing Journal

A journal acts as your deepest confidant, to whom you are able to share your deepest shame, anger, and frustration. It is by verbalizing in exact and specific terms that which is frustrating you over time and being specific in the role that it has in your life that you can start healing.

It is hard to heal when you have a vague or general idea what is bugging you. It is when you are able to describe in words, using highly specific language, that you are able to pinpoint the exact cause.

Your journal then is a source of healing. Healing is a necessary component for moving towards happiness. When we put all our energy on something negative, we only help to accelerate its growth. In other words, we get more of what we don’t want.

Conclusion: Putting it All Together

Decide today that you will be happy and start forming the habit of doing things that facilitate happiness. Practice gratitude and affirmations daily. Meditate to focus your mind and help cultivate your attitude–your response–to a given situation.

While you’re doing all these things, remember to laugh more, and enjoy the little things as they come along. It’s also important to spend quality time with your loved ones as well as make time for yourself. Remember that while life is best lived in the service of others that you have to take care of number one.

Of course, you have to protect your wealth and your relationships by making sure you are in good health to enjoy them. So, exercise at least three times a week. Finally, learn how to be proactive and take responsibility for your life and the choices you make (or don’t make). To help you with your healing from the wounds that rose from blaming other people, conditions, and environments, start a journal of healing.

Big changes come from minor tweaks. If these 11 things are too much for you to do at any one time or overwhelming for you, then pick a few that resonate with you and start with them.

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