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Michael Anthony

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Tim Ferriss

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M.J. Ryan

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Top 5 Things to Do

If the idea of being happier seems too impossible to wrap your mind around, step back and reconsider. A positive frame of mind can make all the difference. Here are the top five things you can do to enjoy your journey to happiness.

1. Train your brain.

Happiness is largely dictated by your habits. Years of negative reinforcement may have led the brain to think unhappiness is the norm. You can break that tendency by creating new rituals. Start by becoming aware of your current habits and noting the negative ones. Then try to consciously change them into more positive ones. Be forceful if you have to and don’t give up. Progress comes through repetition.

2. Be grateful.

Experts agree that taking a few minutes a day to note what you’re grateful for is a great way to start on the road to happiness. If you focus on the positive things, rather than complaining about the negative ones, you’ll develop a much broader spectrum of appreciation in your daily life and enjoy it more. It may help to start writing a few items down each day in a gratitude journal.

3. Do what makes you happy.

It may sound obvious, but so many of us neglect the things that we want to do for the things we think we should do. Or, we spend time obsessing about things we can do nothing about. Make a conscious effort to incorporate more of the things that make you happy in your life. Do you enjoy eating lunch in the park? Does the feeling of sand between your toes thrill you? Do you like to read a story to your children before bedtime? Well, then do it and do it often!

4. Hang out with happy people.

As the saying goes, “You are the company you keep.” If you want to enjoy happier living, then surround yourself with positive, happy people who will support you in your quest for happiness. Do your best to avoid negative people who will only bring you down.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

Everyone makes mistakes but it’s how you deal with these mistakes that really makes a difference. Don’t let setbacks bring you down to the point where you consider giving up. Instead, acknowledge the error and quickly move past it. On the other hand, when you experience successes, pay attention to what you did right so you can repeat it.

Posted: 2/5/08

I am on a path to becoming happier every day. I used to read a lot of self improvement books which help me think things more positively but with everything life hitting me with the ups and downs, it becomes harder to be happy and live in the moment. My husband is always happy and I asked him how he can be happy all the time. His answer to me is because "I am not looking for things that I cannot have and I am content with what I have in my life".. Why is it the he is happy and I am always looking for things to make me happy? I need to find the answer to happiness. I want to be happy with what I have - my husband and kids.


I have always been to analytical and hard on myself. Nothing is ever "good enough"...I think it is very hard not to "beat yourself up" if that is your normal routine, but it is definitely something I would like to change about myself. I also need to take the time to actually acknowlege what I am grateful for; and to see that those things are closer to me than I realize (family, health, enjoyable job...) I just want to feel HAPPY.


hi, my mother being ill for the past 5 years have made me extremely negative and unhappy what should i do


I write a gratitude list everyday. I find the simplest things are what I am most grateful for.


It seems that so much of what we do in life is based on doing those things that make others happy. Is that enough to bring joy into our own lives or is it okay to pursue dreams and changes solely for ourselves?


I also read that one thing that helps you be happy is having choice and personal freedom to do what you want and to control your own life- I think a lot of people lose sight of that in relationships or jobs and feel lost- having the choice to do what you want is important. Not beating yourself up is important- letting go of things you do- and things others do too- not taking things personally helps a lot in feeling some peace.


"Hang out with Happy People" Does this mean you avoid a close friend who is always negative but wasn't before. Or do you stick by them even though it brings you down?


I totally agree that everyone makes mistake! thanks for that encouragement! Will try my best to follow through.

  • By gspicey
  • on 5/27/08 3:13 AM EST

These five are actually simple enough that I can remember and hopefully follow