Do you think that people who are generally happy are simply born that way?
That it is just in their nature to be glass half full types?
I believe it is slightly more complex than that.
As a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience, I can tell you that it is possible to purposely build habits that curate more happiness in your life.
So if you could use a little more happiness, today’s episode is for you. I’m sharing my top happiness curating tips with you, along with the mindset you can adopt if you want to experience more joy in your life.
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
It is possible to cultivate more happiness in your life, especially when you are intentional about it. So let’s dive into the 7 happiness habits you can incorporate into your daily life, starting today.
Happiness Habit #1: Gratitude
Having gratitude for both the small things and the big things in life is so important.
I love this quote from Oprah: “Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”
I want to be clear that with gratitude, I am not talking about bypassing or saying “everything happens for a reason!” when something awful happens. I am talking about the ability to be grateful for what is right in your life, even when there are things that are wrong. When the shit hits the fan, being able to find something small to be grateful for can be incredibly helpful.
People who naturally curate happiness understand that what you focus your attention on grows. If you endlessly watch depressing, traumatizing news 24/7, that amplifies negativity in your life.
This does not mean you should be uninformed, but it does mean you should limit the amount of horrible news that you take in. Focus your attention as much as possible on what is right in your life.
Gratitude, just like happiness, is a muscle you can strengthen the more you flex it. So instead of looking for what is lacking, look for what is already good.
Happiness Habit #2: Laugh
On a related note, I recently decided to stop listening to the news while driving. Instead, I listen to Netflix Is A Joke and other comedy stations on Sirius Radio.
It feels so good to be in my car, laughing by myself.
Laughing has a ripple effect, too. When we laugh, we release feel-good hormones in our bodies, and these hormones have a lingering effect.
If you don’t have any reasons to laugh in your daily life, you can curate moments of laughter by listening to things you find funny and by staying away from things that engender stress.
Happiness Habit #3: Slow the Heck Down
Rushing around never made anybody happier.
Do you think rushing around like a maniac is good for your physical body?
Of course not.
For a while, in my twenties and early thirties, I had a very dysfunctional relationship with time. I was that person who had to be super early for all the things.
I was always rushing to get to places, always on edge, even though I consistently arrived 15-20 minutes early wherever I needed to be. This was a fear-driven response that became a habituated response. I wasn’t even thinking, I was only rushing.
Not only is rushing around bad for our bodies, but it can also be bad for our relationships, too. If one of you is always late and one of you is always early, you might end up in a polarized position around time. With this early/late dynamic, you’re usually playing out something else in your relationship – it can also be a passive-aggressive way of expressing anger.
This is what happened in my early relationship with my hubs, Vic. He found it difficult to tell me if he was angry with me about something because he felt threatened by his own anger.
He was a widower with three acting-out teenage sons, and he was so happy to have a supportive love relationship, he unconsciously disavowed any anger for fear of jeopardizing it.
But he knew I would get upset if he made me late, and doing so gave him a kind of a relief because he didn’t have to experience his anger – I expressed both my anger and his anger in that situation.
Of course, that was 25 years ago. After a lot of therapy and looking at our dysfunctional relationships to time, we found a middle ground. We leave early enough so I don’t have a panic attack, but not so early that we sit somewhere for 40 minutes.
Life is so much more joyful when you’re not fighting about stupid crap like time, so it behooves you to take things a little slower.
Happiness Habit #4: Notice the Little Things
When you make it your mission to slow down and look around, you can notice and be grateful for the little things: nature, someone who is dressed beautifully, a gorgeous sunset, and the perfect cup of tea or coffee in the morning.
These small moments of appreciation accumulate to create a happier life.
For additional ways to curate more happiness in your life, download the free guide right here.
Happiness Habit #5: Accept the Hard Experiences in Life
Curating happiness habits is not about denying the hard things in life. It is allowing yourself to have a full range of emotions. The hard things are hard, and we are allowed to feel bummed out, pissed off, aggravated, sad, or sorrowful when bad things happen.
But when you have a decent sense of self and lean towards curating more happiness, you know that it’s important to honor rough times and that the rough times will not last forever.
In other words, something bad happens, but you don’t allow that bad thing to make you bitter.
For example, many years ago, I met a woman at a wedding who introduced herself by saying, “Oh, hi, I’m so-and-so. I’ve been divorced for 18 years. It wasn’t my choice, but those things happen.”
Later on, I overheard her telling the same thing to someone else.
It’s not just that something bad happened to this woman. It’s that she identified with it so deeply that it was the second thing she said after her name.
Bad experiences will happen to good people, and they do all the time. But we don’t want those bad experiences to make us bitter or become our sole identities.
Happiness Habit #6: Have a Growth Mindset (Mindset of Evolution)
There are two mindsets you can have: a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset.1
With a fixed mindset, you believe your qualities are set in stone, and that they cannot change.
With a growth mindset, you believe that you are capable of change and expansion and that you can improve with effort.
A fixed mindset might sound like, “I haven’t met the love of my life,” whereas a growth mindset might sound like, “I haven’t met the love of my life yet.”
Simply adding the word “yet” creates this sense of possibility, which is why this happiness habit can make a huge difference in the way you go through the world. It helps you have real hope when you know that things will change, you will change, and your feelings will change.
In fact, my mentor, Davidji, says, “The only thing we can count on is that everything is going to change.”
Life is change: it’s getting married, it’s having children, it’s empty nesting, it’s becoming grandparents, it’s aging, and then it’s transitioning into whatever you believe is next, right?
And so with a growth mindset or a mindset of evolution, you know that life will change, which makes the gratitude habit so incredibly important. It requires you to be here now – enjoy this moment, this sunset, this makeout session, whatever it is because it won’t last forever. The good, the bad, all of them at some point will end because this is the nature of life.
Happiness Habit #7: Be Willing to Do the Work
Even if you believe you were simply born a pessimistic person, your feelings, your life, your relationships, and your happiness are your responsibility. And it is so worth the effort to build these happiness habits in your one and only, one-of-a-kind, only-you-are-going-to-live-it life.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. There is no happiness fairy. Doing the work to find happiness is an inside job – one you can absolutely do. Your future happiness and your satisfaction in life are so incredibly worth it.
For more ideas and tips on how to curate more happiness in your life, download this week’s guide right here.
I want to know how this episode struck you: do you think you can curate more happiness in your life with these habits? Which ones will you try? Have you made any of these a habit already? You can drop me a comment here or on Instagram @terricole.
I hope you have an amazing week curating and harnessing happiness, and as always, take care of you.