Everyone wants to live a happier life. Happiness is in high demand these days, and many people invest time and money to find happiness. This leads to people wanting to know more about rules to live by to achieve that sense of happiness.
But asked to define happiness, the answers of each individual may lead to surprising answers.
While some could mention a large circle of friends and a bigger bank balance for a happier life, others might disagree. Instead, a cottage in the wilderness alone is their idea of utopia.
There have been films, plays and books written on finding happiness. The challenge with this type of thinking is that happiness seems to become an object, not a state. Happiness is a state or a feeling.
Those Feel-Good States
Happiness is often a feeling of excitement, joy, contentment, fulfillment, or just peace. This is where the challenge is. All feelings are transient.
Joy can occur for moments or a few days. Contentment can be a lovely moment you enjoy whilst listening to your cat purr loudly on your lap in front of a crackling fire. Excitement is so diverse, it is hard to pin down. Excitement could be learning to abseil, traveling to a distant exotic country, or waking up to freshly baked bread.
You might have started to realize that happiness is a state, or feeling, and those states and feelings move all the time. It is unrealistic to think that happiness is an object or goal.
It is a journey, and often the journey starts with you. It is that simple.
During these moments of happiness, peace, contentment and excitement, it is human to wish for those feelings or states to continue forever. Life often throws adversity at us, and we then complain that we suddenly experienced a reality check. This could be an unexpected bill through the mail, or more tragic circumstances like the loss of a loved one.
Friendships end, jobs throw us into a spin. Partners can drive us crazy, and pets can become ill. Financial issues tug at our peace, and the grind of daily life can throw us off-kilter.
The good news is, happiness is measurable, it is quantifiable and calculable. Scientists have done the work, and the steps to happiness are simple. So, there is a solution.
So How Does One Find Happiness?
The key is to prepare for happiness and understand that happiness is not one thing. Instead, it’s a joining together of many actions over time. This is where these rules to live by come to fruition.
Understanding that feelings are transient, then stoicism is something we garner by living well each day. Becoming stronger physically and mentally, as well as emotionally, is key to maintaining a happier state. It also reduces those life instances that seem to pull us like a ship without a sail.
With that in mind, consider these rules as part of your daily journey to happiness. Do so, and you will experience happiness more often. This is simply because you understand that anything negative will come to pass, and that the sun will always shine on your face again someday soon.
So, onto the different rules to live by for a happier life.
Rule 1: Get to Know Yourself
You will never find happiness if you do not understand what makes you happy! Getting to know yourself includes understanding who you are, what you like to do, and how you want to live your life.
It is also an exercise in deciphering what your values are. Values are important to each human being, it makes you aware of the type of life you want to live.
We often hear that life is short, and it is. Why not make it the life you want to lead, as opposed to the life you are being forced to live?
Values also make our direction in life clearer. It allows us to say no when necessary, and also reduces stress.
If we live in conflict with our values, we may experience higher levels of stress. This leads to deeper anxiety and even depression. Many people go through life pleasing other people and never bother to find out their own values. Other people’s opinions about important matters are just that, other people’s opinions.
You will still experience stress and tension when you understand your values, but it holds less power over your situation. All negative situations become less important when clearer in our value structure. Happiness does not mean the absence of stress, but a deeper understanding that this type of stress will pass. We still feel whole and we still feel content.
Rule 2: Get Some Fresh Air
Sometimes rules themselves can make us anxious, and getting outside for some air is trickier for some than others.
A scientific study by the American Meteorological Society found that going outside for fresh air reduces stress and increases happiness by huge amounts.
They also stated that warmer weather, wind speed and humidity must be in a certain range to precipitate that happiness level. Some people live in colder countries and experience harsher weather, so this all sounds a little too ideal.
The fact is, although this is scientifically proven, simply going outside is a change of scene, and a change of scene can increase a person’s feel-good factor. If the weather is not perfect, make sure you dress correctly for any weather, within reason!
Taking your dog for a walk on a rainy day can be filled with just as much pleasure as a warm breezy day at the beach. Watching your pet play in puddles and enjoy his walk is a mood elevator. The other good news is that the temperature only has to be around 57F or slightly above to enjoy the benefits of “good weather”. Although sunshine certainly does help.
Maybe your type of getting fresh air could be a walk to your greenhouse to check on your plants, or a walk to the shop. It doesn’t have to look a certain way to make you feel good. It’s all about getting to know yourself and what works for you.
Rule 3: Help Other People
This is a scientific fact. Helping other people increases your happiness.
There have been numerous studies and tons of published research on the fact that helping others does increase a person’s own level of happiness.
There is something important in psychological research known as The Feedback Loop. Let’s look at an example.
Emotions will work in pretty much a linear way. There is the beginning, where a person feels amazing, there is the middle, where reality sets in, and then there is the thump at the end.
Research studies have shown that people who gave away huge windfalls felt happier for longer. If they continued giving of themselves, and what they have in sensible amounts, the feeling became cyclical instead of linear.
But not all of us have windfalls, and we don’t have tons of cash to give away. However, giving away even small items can increase your happiness. One person reported feeling great for days when they bought two pints of milk instead of one, giving the other to an elderly neighbor. It really can be that simple.
That is why many people continue to donate items to charity, re-purpose items for use for other people, and also donate to charities each year over and above the reasons for tax benefits. Giving your time and your resources is included in helping other people. Today, it appears more people are concerned about spending time and money on themselves, which is great, but many now understand that giving is more important for long-term happiness.
Rule 4: Nurture Yourself
Happiness among people who take care of themselves, which includes a huge array of activities and exercises, increases happiness levels. So, what does ‘take care of oneself’ mean?
Having a good self-image and sound self-concept increases feelings of self-esteem. People with higher self-esteem experienced life more positively. They don’t personalize things, they also don’t get upset, angry or afraid as much as people with lower self-esteem.
Self-esteem is also a process. Life, in general, is a growth phase. Each decade, each week, we learn new things and absorb new ideas. We are constantly changing. Part of self-care is spotting your own personal triggers, understanding your strengths, and allowing for your so-called weaknesses.
For example, some people love to be social, others prefer the quietness of me – time. This doesn’t make you wrong, it makes you, you. Instead of being critical of something about yourself that does not fit in with society’s trends, embrace your own uniqueness.
Break Away From The Shackles of How You are Supposed to Be
Society often decides how a person should feel and look, for example. This can be found in the media or even in other people or groups we interact with.
So, what do you do?
Choose friends who make you happy, who have the same values as you, and are also ‘on your side’. If you need alone time, get it! If you enjoy being social, be social. If you are shy, appreciate that many great people in life were shy. Mark Zuckerberg is a self-confessed introvert. Barack Obama admits he is quiet, and the list is endless. However, these people, who easily described themselves as shy or introverted, had a massive impact on the world. They simply understood themselves and understood their strengths.
Rule 5: Keep a Reminder Book
Often when things go wrong, we notice that more than the things that go right. If this is you, then start to keep a reminder book. Each day when you wake up, write down all the things you can think of that are going right for you right now.
Many people do not have a bed to sleep in, coffee to drink, or a familiar view to look out on. Think beyond this. Instead, think about the positive things you have going on with your health. Some people will become their illness, instead of understanding they have more than that particular illness.
The reminder book will enable you to focus on the good things you have, and the more good things you realize you have, the happier you will be.
Rule 6: Get a Good Night’s Rest
You might be a morning person, or a night person. Neither is right or wrong. Finding your sweet spot is all about finding that which works for you. Once you have decided this, or maybe your body will decide for you, start to carve out a good routine and stick to it.
You may struggle at first, but like the South African sleep expert Dr. Hugh Selsick points out, waking at the same time every day will eventually result in a better quality of sleep.
Don’t worry about what time you go to bed at first, just wake up at the same time each day. Eventually, your body will start to show its own internal intelligence, and you will start to sleep better.
The typical 7-8 hours a night is a fallacy.
Your own requirement is what matters. A good sleep cycle reduces stress, helps anxiety, stops certain depressions, and also helps you respond to emotional crises more effectively.
Rule 7: Do Things You Love to Do
Everyone has responsibilities and has to do things, but always ensure you make time to do the things you love doing. This is one of the most important rules to live by!
If you find this difficult and are a little self-sacrificing, then make a date with yourself. It could be each day or longer chunks of time over the week. Make the date, then stick to it.
Some find great peace and joy in painting, others prefer active pursuits like sport, and more just love to watch a movie or catch up on a TV series. Again, it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing, it’s all about what makes you happy.
Finding out things you love to do might be puzzling at first, but many people say that looking into your childhood is the key. Perhaps you loved art or poetry? Or, perhaps you played sports, but you are older now? You can still get involved in sports in many ways without actually playing it. Many people already know that secret, as you might know!
Rule 8: Find a Purpose
Your purpose might be to grow the best roses on the block. It might be to start a new career, start studying, write a book or change the world. Whatever your purpose is, don’t wait!
People living with purpose not only find happiness, but also stretch themselves more, in a good way. Some people might change careers and begin studying, or others will find out more about a hobby they love. In this way, we grow and develop, and even find friends and kindred spirits along the way.
This kind of falls into the help other people category. The more we have a purpose, the more we change our world and the world around us, just by being the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
Rule 9: Brush Up on Your Filters
We are not talking about Photoshop filters, but life filters. The media throws so much at us, news about murders, news about wars, or even images that make us feel less-than. On the internet, we read about successful, beautiful and handsome people every day. Many of these stories are made up by websites hoping to drive traffic to their sites.
Make a stance and only follow people who are real or resonate with you. You could call it the Marie Kondo method of cleaning up your life.
If a story, article or person brings you joy, read it and enjoy it. If it has the opposite effect, throw it away. If Instagram pictures make you happy, enjoy them. If not, then unfollow and move on. Listen to your inner voice and inner feelings.
Media images that are not conducive to our self-care, self-esteem or life in general breed unhappiness, increase stress, and cause us less of what we seek, which is peace and joy.
Start slowly, rules can seem intimidating, see them more like steps. Remember that happiness is a journey.
There are other steps to increase happiness and well-being. Eating well, keeping the company of people who care for us and about us, pets and exercise, but starting your journey means starting small.
Keep in mind that your life is unique to you. Finding your happiness and rules to live by lies in our infinite intelligence. Our passions, likes and dislikes. Finding yourself is often the key to finding happiness. If you suffer from serious depression, taking care of yourself would involve a visit to the doctor, but even with medication, these types of steps will or should be recommended to you.
Happiness is an accumulation of good habits driven by what works best for you, culminating in a general feeling of well-being and joy. This is all a part of happiness, and it prepares you for the journey towards improving your life!
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