5 Simple Secrets to a Happier Life

It starts with what you choose to do, and who you do it with.

Posted Mar 18, 2015

racorn/Shutterstock
Source: racorn/Shutterstock

`Happiness is not a feeling or an elusive emotion. It is, in fact, a practice and a lifestyle. While we can’t avoid disappointment, failure, pain, trauma, or loss, we can choose to show up in our lives each day practicing happiness.

No longer can we look for happiness outside of ourselves. No longer can we blame our job, our income level, or the people around us for why we can’t be happy in the present moment. We can all be happy right now.

Here are 5 secrets to happiness to begin the practice in your life today:

1. Create small pleasures.

I’d like you to answer these two questions:

  • What small pleasure do you truly enjoy more than anything else?
  • How long has it been sense you’ve engaged in this pleasure?

Think back to an earlier time, before the pressures of life began to encroach on your spirit. Do you enjoy going camping on the weekends and making a fire for the first cup of black coffee on a frosty morning? Do you enjoy the glisten on your freshly waxed and washed car? Or maybe your thing is relaxing on the couch with a great novel. There’s a good chance you are caught up in the bustle of each day, and no longer take time to enjoy the little things that used to make you happy. It's time to go back to them.

2. Make exercise fun.

This secret is important because you really do need to engage in some form of exercise several times a week to feel your best. You don’t need to be afraid of the E word. Exercise does not have to include doing aerobics in spandex or pumping iron with guys in sleeveless shirts. Exercise can be as simple as a 10-minute walk each day with a friend, riding a bike at your own pace, or playing tennis. Before you know it, you’ll be doing your activity for 20 or 30 minutes, or perhaps even an hour, each day. If you make it fun, you won’t even look at your watch.

3. Develop 3 relationships of significance.

Purpose and meaning in life often come through purposeful and meaningful relationships. I suggest you take inventory of your current relationships, and seek to build these three critical types of relationships in your life:

  • A relationship with someone older and wiser who has lived long enough to understand the value of trusting, intimate friendships. This person will be someone you can enjoy, listen to, and learn from without needing to meet someone else’s expectations.
  • Build a friendship with someone your own age, a person you can easily relate to because of shared interests and values—a true peer. 
  • Find some time each month to be a mentor to a person younger than you. This will give you a sense of purpose and perspective in your own life.

4. Nourish your body.

You really are what you eat, so take the time to be conscious and intentional about what you put in your body. Making sure to consume complex, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables each day can do wonders for your physical, mental, and emotional states.

5. Live with an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude can be absolutely transformational. Shifting your perspective from playing the victim or constantly “taking” from life, to being grateful for each moment as it passes, can dramatically shift not only how you show up in life, but also how life shows up for you. In this sense, gratitude is really a lifestyle. And you can begin today: Keep a notebook by your bed. When you wake up, write down three things you are grateful for, whether simple or profound. Then do the same exercise at night.

Follow these five steps and observe how your life will transform.

Gregory L. Jantz, PhD is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and an internationally recognized best selling author of over 28 books related to mental wellness and holistic recovery treatment.