Have you ever felt as if happiness is just a dream and not something truly reachable? It's easy to feel this way because acquiring something we believe will make us happy usually leaves us wanting more, instead.
Coupled with the fact that stress, uncertainty, worrying, finances and so on tend to rule our lives, you may feel as if happiness isn't even worth the hard work required to achieve it.
But that's not truly the case.
Have you ever considered that things like money and wealth aren't really conducive to real happiness? Psychologist Ed Diener at the University of Illinois believes so. He claims that "materialism is toxic to happiness," due to the fact that uncertainty from finances can lead to depression and anxiety. (1)
Still, that doesn't necessarily mean that money kills happiness. It just means that your happiness shouldn't depend on materialism, and the pursuit of happiness looks like something a bit different. After all, why else would happiness be achievable by those who have (seemingly) less than you?
Happiness is far less elusive when it depends on something you have a choice over. While you can't always control how much money you have, what the markets or doing or what other curveballs get thrown your way, you can control your attitude.
Life has its pitfalls, but there are small moments every day that can bring you joy. Where does joy come from? Joy comes from the realization that even though life doesn't always go the way you want, it's still worth living. Life can still be fun, despite how imperfect it is.
Here are some tips for developing this attitude of joy:
No matter what comes your way, whether it be success or failure, don't take life so seriously. Give yourself a break by focusing on the joyful moments that happen throughout your day or week. They're there to remind you that you don't have to be perfect in order to be blessed.
A strong work ethic is its own reward, but there are also times when you need to do something just for yourself. You don't have to sacrifice responsibilities for this, of course, but it's worth the effort to invest time in an activity for the sake of enjoyment.
This activity should be something you have a true interest in. It should be something that makes you feel alive and content. It could be exercising, socializing with friends, blogging, traveling or any other number of hobbies.
Prioritize your values.
What is really important to you? For most, this would be akin to relationships and time spent with loved ones. Our values are usually composed of the things we care for, but stress and anxiety can detract from these important things.
At this moment, decide what matters most to you and give those things priority. Don't let work and stress isolate you from the things that make you truly happy, because you'll find that it's not worth it in the end. Be with people you love, spend time with people who love you back and don't sacrifice these moments for something that might escape you in the future.
It's no secret that altruism is one of the fastest roads to genuine happiness. This is because helping others out of your own volition is a reminder that there is a world beyond your own problems. Helping others reminds you that giving is vastly superior to receiving.
So, give a stranger a smile. Offer someone a compliment for no reason. Pay for the person in line who can't find their wallet. Random acts of kindness don't just help others, they help you.
Seek out the good.
Negativity sells in our culture, which is why the news is typically geared toward bad news. Filling your head with topics like war, disease, crime and more can leave you feeling as if the world is too far gone.
Instead, try looking for the good stories that are out there. Pay equal attention to the inspirational and positive news that is there for the taking.
Did you know that forcing yourself to smile can actually make you happier? It's true for the same reason that smiling is infectious. Even if you have to stretch your mouth with a pencil (safely), smiling is worth the muscles you're exercising to do it.
If there's one thing to remember about all of these tips, it's this: happiness can be achieved now. It's not something you have to work really hard for with the hopes that maybe, someday, you'll find it. Happiness is an attitude, and this attitude is a choice.
Don't miss out.
(1) Marilyn Elias, “Psychologists know what makes people happy,” USA Today, December 8, 2002,