11 Simple Steps to Greater Happiness Now

greater happiness

What is the one thing every single person on the planet really wants out of life? Isn’t the answer simply to be happy? I mean, isn’t that the reason behind almost everything we do?

The pursuit of happiness is a universal quest. No stone is left unturned in an effort to locate the seemingly illusive source of true and lasting happiness. How’s your happiness quest going?

Where have you looked?

Some of the more common places to search for happiness are: a nice home, good job, meaningful relationships, big bank account, status and popularity, hobbies, and travel. Has your quest for happiness led you there?

How about pursuing it through personal development and goal setting? Have you given these a try as well? Or is there something in the works right now that you are pretty sure will make you happy in the near future?

Could you be looking but not seeing?

You probably already have many of the things that I mentioned above. And the truth is, those things can add a measure of happiness to our lives. It’s a real blessing to have a nice home and a truly meaningful relationship. Goal setting and continued personal development can also bring you happiness.

But here’s the thing! Nothing in your life can make you happy unless you let it. The key to happiness is not what you have or how favorable your circumstances are. It’s your attitude! You get to decide whether everything makes you happy, or nothing does.

Appreciation is the mindset of happiness

We are programmed to associate happiness with things outside of our current reality. That’s like chasing the wind. It distracts you from appreciating what’s going on right now. Happiness is a real time event, it’s not something you put off till “someday.”

Let’s look at some practical ways to bring happiness into our lives right now!

1. Be here now. Don’t project your happiness into the future. Think about the blessings in your life right now, and focus on being truly appreciative. Learn to experience life as it is happening, and train yourself to cultivate appreciation.

2. Notice the little things. Instead of anchoring your happiness to big events and special days, find reasons to be happy in the small things that happen every day. The vast majority of our life is spent doing the day to day things. Notice how special some of those really are and how much they add to your life. Noticing these small pleasures, throughout your day, makes a huge difference.

3. Become a student of life. There is so much wonder and awe in this world. Whatever your interests or passions, increased knowledge about those things can enrich your life. There is a lot of happiness generated when you are passionately pursuing new interests.

4. Simplify your life. Start by identifying the things you really love, then look for ways of eliminating as many distractions as possible. The more chaos in your life, the greater the potential for stress. By simplifying your life in this way, you create time for your happiness, while reducing the stress and chaos. There is beauty and peace in simplicity.

5. Focus on the good. Is the glass half full or half empty? The answer really depends on which half you focus on. In a similar way, whether you feel blessed or deprived will depend largely on which aspects of your life you focus on. Almost everything has a positive side, and focusing on the positives will change your perception of life.

6. Learn to accept. It’s a noble goal to work for positive change, but some things simply can’t be changed. So, you can either drive yourself crazy fretting over it, or you can learn to accept it. If something can’t be changed, then it’s better to learn to accept. The best way to fix the world is to apply your efforts where they can do the most good. In other words, become the best possible version of yourself, rather than to try to remake the world.

7. Help others. You know the principle, “there is more happiness in giving than receiving,” well it happens to be true. There are very few things that bring greater joy than helping a fellow human being. I’ll leave this one to your imagination because there is no shortage of ways to help others. We just need to be open to the opportunities as they come along.

8. Spend time with the people you love. There is a deep bond between happy you are and how loved you feel. Don’t let circumstances deprive you of the company of your loved ones. Relationships need attention to thrive. Life goes by fast! Children grow up and move away. Don’t risk missing out on your own life, spend it with the people you love.

9) Slow down. Take time to smell the roses, and the coffee, and whatever else makes you feel alive in the moment. Slowing down means reminding ourselves to throttle back a little, and enjoy the experience of living. Rushing through everything may seem necessary, but it is just a hectic illusion. Slow down so happiness can catch up with you.

10. Make time for quiet and solitude. Spend time in nature and connect with the creation. Unplug from the noise and plug in to the quiet energy emanating from the natural world. Stop and watch the sunset or sunrise. Go to the ocean, or the mountains. Find somewhere just to be away from the things of man, and watch how good it makes you feel.

11. Avoid negative energy like the plague. Negative energy is like a contagious disease. It will destroy your sense of happiness if you let it. Take steps to avoid contact with everyone whose dominate energy is negative. You can’t help them, but they can definitely harm you. This also goes for entertainment and the news. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person, place, or thing, if it’s mostly negative, cut it out of your life.

Try it, you’ll like it!

These 11 simple steps to greater happiness may seem rather basic, because they are. The hard part is putting them to work in your life on a daily basis. Sure, it will take some effort, but ask yourself: How would it feel to be truly happy most of the time? Then decide if it’s worth the effort.

What makes you feel truly happy?
What would you like to add to the list?
The lines are open!

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  1. Rocket Bunny October 30, 2009 Reply

    I think every person wants to be the best they can be. Love and be loved.
    This is a great article and wonderful tips for a better life.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Bunny, you are certainly about the love part, it plays a major role in happiness for most people.

  2. Steven Aitchison October 31, 2009 Reply

    Some great steps for happiness Jonathan. If we are honest we are all looking for happiness most of the time, it may be disguised with a different name but deep down it all comes down to happiness and contentment.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Steve, contentment, what a nice feeling that is. Bunny associated love with happiness and now you’ve added contentment. So we’ve got love, happiness, and contentment. Beautiful.

  3. Lana October 31, 2009 Reply

    Great article Jonathan, I agree with everything, especially with “be here now” and be happy now. We can truly be happy here and now no matter what our circumstances are. Interesting thing is that once we learn to be happy despite our circumstances, those circumstances improve automatically.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Lana, that’s so true about our circumstances improving once we learn to be happy regardless. Thanks for making that point.

  4. Karlil October 31, 2009 Reply

    Great list Jon. Happiness is often made complicated than it ought to be. In the end, happiness is nothing but a state of mind.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      So true Nik, makes you wonder why we have the tendency to search for it elsewhere, doesn’t it?

  5. Tristan Lee October 31, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for these tips. In my opinion, I think people make happiness something more complicated than it has to be.

    Focus on thinking and doing happy things, and you will be happy.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hey Tristan, that’s why they are so busy looking for it, they buried it under complexity.

  6. Harry van der Veen October 31, 2009 Reply

    Great points Jonathan, thanks for sharing.
    Often people rush their jobs, but it can be so great to just sit back for 2 minutes and smell that gorgeous coffee in the morning before you start your day.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hey Harry, rushing doesn’t usually change anything except our stress levels.

  7. Nea October 31, 2009 Reply

    When the going gets tough, #5 always helps. Even 99 out of 100 things going on in your life are completely undesirable, you can choose to focus primarily on that 1 good thing.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nea, focus really is the name of the game. To a huge degree, our perception of life is dictated by our focus.

  8. Mike King October 31, 2009 Reply

    If only we were not all so confused about what will actually bring happiness and the tempations that draw us into fake happiness, we might actually all have more happiness. Good steps here Jonathan, reading it leaves me thinking about one more step, which is the most important if you ask me, and that is to actually DECIDE to be happy or more happy. Its available if you want it and do the things on the list then to bring it to you.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hey Mike, I’ve been waiting for someone to mention “decide.” I linked to an article called A key Ingredient of True Happiness that talks about that, but I intentionally left it off the list. Why, because I wanted to see who would bring it up. You are absolutely right Mike, and in fact, I think it should be #1 on the list. Not much gets past you my friend. THANKS!

  9. kate smedley November 1, 2009 Reply

    These are all so easy to do, excellent advice. I especially agree about the last point, negative energy is debilitating. Great article.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Kate, I like easy and also really appreciate you joining in! The thing about negative energy is that it can undo all the others. That’s why I put it last.

  10. Stephen November 1, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. These are all great but I’m picking #4 today. I’m on a simple kick. Life does not have to be that complicated and there is beauty and I think happiness in the simple life.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hey Stephen, I know you’re into simple these days and from what I can tell it’s working out nicely. In fact, some of your recent articles about simplifying have been a real inspiration for me. Thank you my friend.

  11. Robin Easton November 2, 2009 Reply

    This reminds me of the difference between “doing” and “being”. The thing that makes me happiest is simply “being” and in being, being aware of all the wonders around me both in those I love and in Nature and the world itself. I think we know we are truly happy when we feel great joy even when we are doing nothing. Can we just sit and be feel happy? If not then maybe it’s time to reassess our lives and what we value, what we identify with as happiness. Hugs, Robin

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Robin, thanks for making that distinction, it’s an important one for all of us. I have been playing with being a curious observer (consciously aware) of my life, instead of always analyzing everything (intellectually aware). When we watch our own life as an observer, it’s a total state of “being.” Of course, as soon as we start thinking about watching, it goes back into our head. Watching with curiosity is the ultimate in “simply being.” Did that make any sense?

      • Robin Easton November 2, 2009 Reply

        Dear Jonathan, this is completely clear to me, with time “watching with curiosity” becomes second nature and you never really leave that state nor do you think about it. It’s how you experience Life…even when you have to be practical and make “rational” decisions. I think it’s one of the things “living wild” gave me. I moved from thinking with my head/mind/brain (which I find very exhausting) and was never good at to begin with) to thinking with my entire being.

        This may sound odd, but most days I do very little thinking. So how do process things? How do I write, how do I make decisions? Wow, that’s a question I don’t think I have words for. I wanted to say through osmosis….but of what? I wanted to say, through absorbing all the information, emotions, feelings, colors, senses, tastes, smells, sounds, energy around me…but it’s far more than that. I have merged with something so completely that I’ve become it. I seem able to simply let go and feel my way into the world I(with my whole being).

        This is all off the cuff, but I want to say that it is EVERYTHING I commune with every moment of every day. I walk around in a constant state of “love affair with” and it never leaves, even when my life is hard or stressed. It allows me to embrace so much, to be SO vast and unafraid. I think it has something to do with surrender. Again just off the cuff as I feel it, but I think it has to do with letting go. I once let go so completely that I became part of every other thing. It was like the Big Bang or “let gos” for me. I’ve never been the same since. I don’t think I can write more without sitting here crying; I already can’t see the screen from the tears in my eyes. And I have NO idea if any of this makes sense at all. Words are so ineffective. I am often better at feeling things to people when I speak. I can then impart the feeling from my body to theirs.

        And you my wise friend raise another vitally important distinction: the difference between intellect and awareness. They are as distinct as living in awareness and living in fear.

        You have touched me to today and inspired me as well. To experience oneself through another’s inspiration is a huge gift. I am grateful. Forgive if this all reads like gibberish.

        • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

          Robin, I know exactly what you are saying, or at least I feel that I do. It’s the space of synergy and intuition that processes input in a completely organic way. In some ways it has a “third person” quality like a dream, while still allowing for complete participation on every level. Bill Haris of Centerpointe describes it as witnessing your life with curious, conscious awareness.

  12. Tim November 2, 2009 Reply

    Jonathan, I always enjoy your soothing use of the English language. I’ve never read an article on happiness that was as comprehensive and complete as yours.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Wow Tim, what an incredibly kind thing to say. I can’t really express how rewarding your words felt to me. Thank you!

  13. Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

    Nice article. I fully agree with the points about appreciating the good things that are happening now.

    Not so sure though about the point “11) Avoid negative energy like the plague”. I’ve seen this sort of idea expressed on a lot of blogs lately. The part I don’t agree with is “you can’t help them”. Simply being around a more positive person can help people who are in a negative space. I would say avoiding a friend just because they have become dominated by negative energy is definitely going to harm them.

    I do see the need for balance though … you don’t want to be constantly surrounded by negative energy. It’s important to have positive people in your life. But at the same time remember it is important for others as well, even if their dominant energy is negative.

    • Jonathan November 2, 2009 Reply

      Hi Thomas, thanks for joining the conversation. I didn’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t try to encourage someone who has slipped into a negative state because they are going through a tough a challenging time. I work with people in crisis situations who can get pretty negative, but that’s not really who they are as a person. In those situations, yes they do need encouragement, and will often be helped by it.

      The negative energy I was referring to is people who make a choice to be that way because it’s who they are. Their dominate nature is negative. They can’t be helped because they don’t see a need for change. Constantly exposing yourself to the chronically negative will only prove harmful to you in the long run.

  14. Dragos Roua November 3, 2009 Reply

    I absolutely love this line: “Acceptance is the mindset of happiness”. Although I know it by heart I can’t get enough of it.

    • Jonathan November 3, 2009 Reply

      Greetings Dragos, thanks for joining us. That line stayed with me also. I’m honored that you picked up on it, and appreciated it.

  15. Vin November 3, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan! This is a great list that I think reminds us that it is often the things that are simple and inexpensive that have the most potential to bring us happiness. Thank you for such a simple but inspiring list.

    • Jonathan November 3, 2009 Reply

      Hi Vin, that is so true. The search for happiness has gotten way out of bounds. You emphasized something so important here. Life doesn’t need to be complicated to be happy and rewarding. In fact, the exact opposite is usually true. Thank you my friend!

  16. Oscar November 3, 2009 Reply

    Great list Jonathan! I highly believe we can increase happiness in every moment, and your list is helpful.

    • Jonathan November 3, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Oscar, you actually mentioned the key thought, “in every moment.” Happiness only happens in real time. If we focus on the moment, and find happiness there, those moments will add up.

  17. Ching Ya November 3, 2009 Reply

    A very heart warming and encouraging post. I agree many times we are busy looking but not realizing the happiness we’re already owning. That’s the saddest part of all. Whenever I feel depressed, quiet down and pray, while try to think about the blessings I have experienced. When rationality is not with us, it’s easy to be sucked into negativity and be miserable. Happiness starts from mindset. Thanks for sharing, Jonathan. You’re very good in this and I’m glad to put you in self-development experts’ list. ^^

    Social/Blogging Tracker

    • Jonathan November 4, 2009 Reply

      Hi Ching Ya, I totally agree, counting our blessings definitely has a way of adjusting our perspective. Thanks so much for the kind words, they really mean a lot and I and very grateful for your appreciation.

  18. Luke Francis November 5, 2009 Reply

    Another great and inspiring article, you are truly a sage my friend and I think the world is a lot better place for your contributions to it.
    Best Wishes

  19. Dr. Frank Bonkowski November 30, 2009 Reply

    I would add a 12th step: develop inner security. Writing in “Inner Security and Infinite Wealth: Merging Self Worth and Net Worth, ” Jared Rosen and Stuart Zimmerman state:
    “In a state of inner security, you are at peace regardless of the external reality. You have a strong and ever-growing sense of self-love and self-worth. You are free, free as your will, to feel and to love as completely as you are able in the moment. You have trust and faith that this moment is perfect, even with its seeming imperfections. You know you are no longer bound by the past. Your trust and faith are so great that you are free from worry about the future.”

  20. Janelle July 6, 2010 Reply

    What an excellent article. I truly believe we need to find happiness in the small things, day to day things and not wait for some major event to feel happy about. Our lives may be stressful and we do not need to slow down and enjoy where we are.

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