Wouldn’t you want to learn how to be happier in life?

It’s a question that we all ask ourselves at some point in our life. But you cannot successfully answer it, let alone strive towards achieving happiness in life unless you realize this one basic thing:

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.

Happiness is not a destination – it’s a journey.

Most of us tend to think of happiness as a result. But in reality, happiness is also a driver to achieve more.

Unlike pleasure, which is generally a short-lived feeling of joy that comes from indulging in certain activities or through the fulfillment of a certain goal, happiness is more long-lasting. It is a stable and more permanent state of mind that helps you maintain a positive outlook on life regardless of what your current circumstances might be.

But what is the secret to living a happier life?

If you ask those who are already living the life that they have always dreamed of, most of them are likely to say something along the lines of making ‘small changes’ in your lifestyle.

Is it true? Can small changes make a big difference in determining how happy you are in life?

There’s only one way to find out.

Try to incorporate as many of the following habits as you can into your lifestyle:

1. Make a Pledge to Be Happy

Whatever the mind says, the body follows. So, consciously tune your mind to being happy and you will actually feel happy all the time.

Write motivational messages or well wishes for your own self and post them at different places throughout the home or on your office desk where you can see them multiple times throughout the day. This can be a simple one-liner such as ‘today is a good day to be happy.’

Or you can also frame a picture of your best moment(s) in life and place it by your bedside. When you begin the day by being reminded of a happy day, you will look forward to turning the following day into a memorable one as well.

2. Let Go of the Past

If you often find yourself sulking over the past events in your life, you are obviously burning your own happiness for no apparent gain. Learn to let go of the past, and stop feeling remorseful. Remember- no one makes mistakes deliberately. In fact, we only call them mistakes in hindsight.

Remind yourself that you are an incredible person with the power to achieve anything and everything that you set your mind to.

Repeat this affirmation until it actually sinks in.

And to really let go of the past for good, try to face it once and for all. Pour your heart out and pen down all those anguished thoughts. Then burn the paper, bury it underground, or simply toss in the bin – but go to bed that night knowing that it’s all out of your system.

3. Spend Some Me-Time Everyday

Happy people know the value of self-love and self-care, as well as the part they play in helping you improve the quality of life. Self-love is not synonymous with selfishness or conceit.

Self-love is knowing your self-worth and valuing yourself enough to not put anything above your mental and physical well being. Therefore, make it a habit to spend some quality me-time every day.

This can include practicing yoga, meditating, watching your favorite show, reading the book you have been trying to for quite a long time, going shopping, and so on. You can even take your pet out for a walk. In fact, playing with pets is considered to be one of the best ways to feel happy instantly. This is because playing with pets increases the levels of the feel-good chemicals, serotonin, and dopamine, in your brain. This is also the reason why pets such as dogs are commonly employed in stress-reduction therapies for humans.

4. Do Something Good for Others

Whether you are in introvert or an extrovert, helping those in need is bound to make you feel happier.

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, explores the effects of doing kind acts in her book, The How of Happiness. According to Lyubomirsky, the study found that doing random acts of kindness, especially for those they had never met before, made people feel considerably happier than other alternatives.

So, if you are trying to find the ultimate secret to living a happier life, it’s perhaps through making a difference in the lives of others by helping them in times of need.

Encourage yourself not to be hesitant in stepping forward and lending someone a helping hand.

Feed that homeless dog or man you notice every day on your way to work. Dedicate your weekends to teaching at a Sunday school or volunteering at any other charitable institution.

5. Spend More Time with Nature

In his book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology, Shawn Achor highlights the importance of spending more time with nature and its positive correlation with living a happier life.

According to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, being outdoors for as little as 20 minutes every day can keep you in high spirits for a much longer time period. What’s more, it is also known to improve memory and sharpen your thinking ability for the rest of the day.

Spending time outdoor is especially important if your workplace or residential unit doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight during the day. Artificial lighting, especially white fluorescent bulbs can be a real mood-buster without you even realizing the effect it might be having. Energy-efficient bulbs are often notorious for creating seasonal depression. The only way to combat it is to be under the sun for at least 15 – 20 minutes every day.

So, still, wondering how to be happier in life? To answer lies in learning to value yourself and letting go of anything that compromises your peace of mind in any way. Do something good for others every day, and never underestimate the power of small acts in bringing about excessive happiness in your life.