How do we heighten our happiness? There are many ways and one size does not fit all. Below are a few suggestions that I am hopeful will work to give you happiness.

Savor the joy of simple pleasures. The best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life.

Look for happiness in the right places. When we’re young we look for happiness in drugs, sex, alcohol, parties, fast cars, extreme sports, etc. Then when we get a little older, we look for happiness in more “mature” ways – a stable partner, romantic getaways, walks along the beach, jazz music, a night at the bar with some friends. Do they work? Do these things make us happy? Sure they do. They raise our happiness temporarily. But people have a baseline of inner happiness. Certain events and possessions, like an unexpected windfall, might raise or lower our happiness momentarily, but soon we return to our inner baseline. The key is to gradually raise this baseline. Enjoy the moment, but don’t completely ignore long-term goals. What will you be proud to have accomplished, or disappointed that you didn’t do, five years from now?

Perform random acts of kindness on a regular basis. Pay for a stranger’s coffee in line at Starbucks. Buy the office receptionist flowers just to say, “Thank you.” Help an elderly lady with her groceries. There’s nothing more rewarding than putting smiles on the faces around you.

Help others when you’re able. In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.

Share time with people you care about, and experience life together. The quality of our personal relationships correlates directly with our overall sense of worth and happiness. Sometimes in the midst of life’s chaos we forget to do the little things that remind us we’re part of something greater than ourselves. We need a certain amount of meaningful contact with other people to feel fully alive. There are few things more satisfying than recounting the greatest moments of your life with your family and closest friends who lived these moments alongside you. And remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.

Accept things when they are less than perfect. If you find yourself at a point of intense decision making where you’re caught in a spiral of over-analysis and you’re making no progress, take a deep breath, break the spiral, make an educated guess on the next logical step, and take it. Even if you get it wrong you’ve learned something, which is better than doing nothing. Your failures along the road to your goals are simply opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards people who get things done.

Invest a little time, energy and money into yourself every day. Happiness comes as a side-effect of learning new skills and challenging yourself. Read, listen, adapt and stretch to accommodate new ideas and new information. When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life. You are simply the product of what you know. The more time, energy and money you invest acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of headaches and heartache. Be happy and remain happy. Remember , happiness is a choice, choose happiness everyday.

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