Happy couple jumping for joy

While we all wish that we could be happy all the time, it’s just as important to think about how we can get an instant mood boost. Sometimes we may find ourselves in a sulk or feeling miserable and, when we’re in that situation, what we need is a way to instantly snap out of it and cheer ourselves up.

The good news is that it’s often perfectly possible to do this. You just need to know how to go about it. Here are some tips on how to immediately tap into happiness.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One theory that has been put forward as having a lot to do with how happy we ultimately are is something called “social comparison theory.” Originally proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger, the basic idea as it relates to happiness is that many of us aren’t happy because we constantly compare ourselves with others who seem better off.

In other words, while you might be incredibly wealthy and successful, you won’t feel that way if you spend your time with people who are wealthier. Similarly, you might not be happy with your relationship if your friend’s relationship appears happier. The same goes for your home.

LuxuryUnfortunately, our modern lifestyles are very much designed to make matters worse. On Facebook most of us portray a very idealized version of our own lives. We receive a constant feed of images of our friends on spectacular holidays or giving talks at conferences. At the same time, the media is constantly showing us the lifestyles of the rich and famous — people who have perfect looks and millions of dollars.

So, what can you do to overcome social comparison? One option is to leave Facebook and never go back — a rather drastic move for some, no doubt.

More important though is to focus on your own goals and to try and keep a realistic idea of your life as it compares with others. Sure, that person has become incredibly successful at what they do. but is that what you would want to do? Focus on your own goals and how they differ from those of other people.

Meanwhile, make sure to focus on what you do have and set your own points of comparison. Don’t think about what you could have. Instead, think about what you’ve already accomplished.

Gratitude cardPractise Gratitude
Many of us spend tons of time daydreaming about things we want. Maybe you imagine yourself with a six pack or dream of winning the lottery. It’s perfectly normal, but is it healthy?

The problem is, that even if you were to win the lottery and had a six pack, you might well find yourself still feeling unhappy. Why? Because you’d now be dreaming about investing in a stock that made you a million dollars or dreaming about having massive biceps to match your six pack. In other words, we take what we have for granted and pine after the things we don’t have.

This is where gratitude exercises come in. These are about taking the time out to think about the things you have and what you’re happy for. This can completely change your life.

First, set aside some time out of your regular routine to practise them. This could mean that you engage in gratitude exercises once a day in the morning before work, before bed or before every meal.

Think of three to five things for which you are grateful. For instance, is it your health? Your relationship? Your friends? Your home? Your job? Your family? Think how nice it is to have people around you who love you and who support you and how life would be without them.

You can also think of material things. Perhaps you love your computer. Perhaps the simple fact that you know you can play a computer game tonight and escape into another world is enough reason to be grateful.

There are other gratitude exercises you can use. Some people write the things down they’re grateful for. Religious people might work these into their prayers. Whatever you do, being mindful of the things for which you are grateful can help you to appreciate what you already have. Happiness is just one gratitude exercise away.

Minimalism Helps Happiness
Want to be happier? It’s time to get rid of all your stuff!

That might sound a little counterintuitive, since most of us like our stuff. That’s why we got it in the first place. Nevertheless, many experts say that getting rid of stuff is still the best way to boost the mood and find your way to being permanently content and happy. Let’s take a look at why that might be and at how far you should go to embrace it.

Declutter your closetWhile many of us have come to equate happiness with “stuff,” this is precisely what spiritual teachers like the Dali Lama suggest might be the problem.

When you base your happiness on how much you have, then you will never be quite satisfied, and you will always want more. This is especially true when you consider the social comparison theory — the fact that we will always compare what we have to what other people have.

At the same time, if your happiness is dependent on the things you own, then it won’t take very much to render you unhappy again. All that would have to happen is for your items to be lost or stolen.

The idea then is that true happiness comes when you can make the most of any situation. If you have fewer things in your home, then you can just find different ways to entertain yourself. This might mean going for a nice walk, playing a card game with a family member or working out with a friend. And any of those things is much more fulfilling than watching TV.

Minimal furnitureAnother point to consider is that “stuff” creates work and commitment. If you were to cut the clutter in your home by half, you may find your home easier to keep tidy. As a result, you have less work to do and you’re freer to move or do things you truly enjoy if you want. In many ways, “stuff” just stresses us more.

Now most people reading this aren’t going to want to get rid of their TVs and that’s perfectly understandable.

But you can try stripping back a little and going back to basics in some other ways, such as getting rid of wardrobe items you never use, reducing the clutter on your countertops and finding other ways to entertain yourself. And next time you’re thinking of adding something to your collection, ask yourself: do you really need it? Will it really make you happier in the long run?

Focus on the Smaller Things
What does true happiness look like to you? For some, true happiness is waking up to a bowl of cereal and a hot cup of coffee in the morning. For others, happiness is sitting on the couch and watching the new episode of their favorite TV show with their pet by their side. It could also be getting a backrub from their partner.

Woman relaxing with petThese are all examples of what we consider “little things” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t instrumental in helping us to feel happier. These creature comforts and pleasant asides are super powerful in raising our mood and helping us to feel on top of the world.

So, the question is, how do you get to the point where little things make you happier? And how do you make sure you have a constant supply of such things to make you happy?

The first thing to do is to find those little things and to make sure they keep coming. We all have things that make us feel great and we all have hobbies and activities we enjoy. The trick is to identify how we can enjoy those things on a regular basis.

You need to make plans to enjoy those things. A little “pleasure delay” can work wonders. So, ideally, you want to spend the whole day at work looking forward to something you want to do in the evening. You don’t want to constantly indulge. Instead, build up the moment in your mind and look forward to it happening.

The problem is that many of us don’t know how to make the very most of our spare time. We spend our “down time” watching TV programs we aren’t really interested in when, in fact, there are countless great things we could be doing, the vast majority of which are free.

Woman listening to musicHere are some simple ways to increase the happiness factor:

  1. Explore a local park.
  2. Read that book you bought ages ago and forgot about.
  3. Try cooking or baking something exotic or ambitious.
  4. Do some outdoor or indoor gardening.
  5. Study something new; free online courses abound.
  6. Clear the cobwebs off that bike and take it for a spin.
  7. Spend time with good friends.
  8. Just smiling releases a rush of endorphins.
  9. Exercise is great too.
  10. Put on happy music to trigger the release of endorphins. Create a playlist that gradually gets more upbeat and happier. This is one of the very best ways to gradually improve your mood and to get yourself out of a funk.

Spend some time thinking about all the exciting things you could do at home and make a habit of writing more ideas down as they come to you. Then, get out there and spend more time enjoying them with those you love.

The Journey Within: Tips on How to Feel Happier Immediately
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