I think it’s safe to say that we all want to learn the rules to be happy in life simply because we want to find lasting happiness and just lead happier lives.
But for most of us, including me, happiness can sometimes feel so elusive. It’s like something that we constantly have to chase after but regardless of what we do, it feels like it’s always slipping through our fingers.
For years, I always had this notion that happiness is a fixed endpoint. Like a destination that I have to reach. I have always assumed that if I could only find a better job that I love, or achieve all of my goals then I’ll be happy.
While there’s no denying that achieving those things can definitely bring me happiness, I was wrong to assume that that happiness will last. I was wrong to think that if I was able to make my dreams a reality then I’ll finally just stay happy.
And most of all, I was wrong to assume that I needed to achieve those things first for me to finally be happy. Because the reality is, happiness is definitely not a constant thing, and neither is it a destination that we have to reach.
After hitting the lowest point of my life, one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that happiness is a choice. It is a mindset and if we continue to chase after it relentlessly then it’s only going to leave us feeling disappointed and emotionally exhausted.
Happiness is available to us right here, right now. While we may not necessarily feel happy at every moment of our lives, it’s important to remember that happiness is available to us even at the lowest point of our lives.
I certainly didn’t think it was possible for me to feel happy when I hit my rock bottom. Not when everything around me was falling apart and every day I was constantly smacked with one problem after another.
But I was wrong because, during that season of my life, I’ve learned that while we can’t snap our fingers and immediately feel happy, we can take small and easy steps every single day to improve our mindset and overall well-being and help us live happier lives.
In this post, I will be sharing with you some rules to be happy that have drastically transformed my life for the better. I’m hoping that these will help bring even a little brightness on your dark days.
12 Rules For A Happier Life
1. Let Go And Just Breathe
Are you also guilty of spending so much of your time and energy trying to control every little detail of your life? I certainly am.
I have always had this notion that as long as I’m controlling every little thing, I can prevent things from going wrong. So, that’s what I did. I spent all my attention fixating on every little detail.
I always had a plan A, B, C, and even D thinking that by having all these things I can guarantee that everything will go according to my plans.
But of course, that’s not really the case because the reality is, regardless of how hard we try to control every little thing in our life, there are still so many things that can go wrong.
We will never be able to control everything and constantly spending so much of our time and energy trying will only lead to more frustration and disappointment.
Remind yourself that it’s perfectly okay to let go and just allow yourself to breathe. You don’t have to control every aspect of your life. I’ve learned that by learning to let go of control, we are finally setting ourselves free from the burden of constantly trying to micromanage every little detail.
We are finally learning to trust ourselves more, embrace the uncertainty, and know that regardless of whatever comes our way, we are strong enough to handle them.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that one of the rules to be happy is finding the perfect balance between knowing when to take charge of what we can control and learning to accept the things that we can’t.
2. Focus On Your Own Journey
There’s simply no denying that in today’s day and age, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap. It’s so easy to believe that some people lead these perfect lives and that we all have to set the same expectation for ourselves.
Growing up, I was constantly compared by the people that I love to other people. I was made to believe that for me to be worthy enough, I had to constantly compete with others’ achievements.
Of course, I took that belief with me and I held on to it for the longest time without realizing how miserable it was making me feel. When I hit my rock bottom, slowly, I’ve finally learned to accept that life is not a competition.
The thing is, when we constantly compare ourselves with other people, we begin to measure our happiness and success based on their standards. We then get caught up in constantly chasing their standards on how to live, leading us to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with our lives.
Focusing on other’s journeys will only distract you from your own path. You don’t have to keep living your life based on somebody else’s definition.
Know that every person’s journey is unique and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all definition of a happy and successful life. Life is by far too precious to waste it living somebody else’s life. Allow yourself to finally focus on your own journey.
Appreciate your own accomplishments, big or small and know that you are enough and worthy just as you are now.
3. Practice Forgiveness
I know that more often than we would like to admit, practicing forgiveness (for ourselves or others) is so much easier said than done. I know how easy it is to allow ourselves to hold on to resentments and grudges.
I’m definitely guilty of this. Growing up, I had so much resentment toward an important person in my life who had made me believe that I was worth nothing without my achievements.
I allowed myself to be consumed by that hatred and anger and I took it with me for years. It took a long time for me to finally realize that by holding on to that anger, I was not only weighing myself down but I was also hurting myself over and over again.
I know how difficult it is to forgive but the thing that really helped me with this is by reminding myself that forgiveness is not about minimizing the wrong things that they have done. It is about choosing to set yourself free and finally giving yourself the space to heal and move forward.
Also, remember that forgiveness is not only about forgiving other people. It’s also about forgiving ourselves. I know how we like to constantly beat ourselves up for past mistakes and failures but please know that as human as we are, we are all bound to make mistakes.
The important thing is to take responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You as much as anybody else also deserve forgiveness. You deserve to set yourself free from that heavy burden that you have been carrying for the longest time.
Remember that forgiveness is not just a one-time event. It’s going to take time, be patient with yourself and remind yourself that forgiveness is a gradual process.
4. Embrace Gratitude
Gratitude plays an important role in living a happier and more fulfilled life. I know how easy it is to be consumed by the negativity. When we are going through difficult times, being grateful can often feel impossible.
I definitely understand you. When I was struggling in life, finding something to be grateful for just seems so unattainable. As a matter of fact, when I hit rock bottom, I was consumed by so much negativity that I allowed myself to only focus on everything that was going wrong in my life.
I thought that by doing this I was making myself more accountable and that I was motivating myself more. But it did the exact opposite. It only made me feel worse and honestly, it just made me feel hopeless and paralyzed by the feeling of overwhelm and stress.
I’ve learned that being grateful is not really about invalidating the struggles that you are going through. Being grateful is all about recognizing that while you are going through difficult times, there is still hope and you can still find happiness even in the little things.
Practicing daily gratitude did not only help improve my mental health and happiness but it also made me more appreciative of the good things in my life that I so often take for granted and most importantly, it helped me find hope even during difficult times.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
I know we have probably heard the phrase “Be kind to yourself” more than a dozen times and yet we still find it so difficult to do. It’s easy to constantly criticize ourselves, it’s easy to constantly beat ourselves up and yet giving ourselves grace, compassion, and love is just so difficult.
You are certainly not alone in this. I have always struggled with this. I have always been so quick to criticize my every little mistake and constantly talk down to myself.
I thought that doing this was making me more responsible and less likely to make more mistakes but actually what it was doing was slowly diminishing my self-esteem and confidence.
Please know that you deserve to give yourself the same amount of kindness and compassion that you so freely give to others. Being kind to yourself, especially when life gets hard, is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
When you give yourself love, patience and compassion, you are recognizing the fact that you are allowed to make mistakes and fail. When you are kind to yourself you are giving yourself permission to accept yourself wholeheartedly, flaws and all.
Remember that you deserve that kindness. You deserve that love. You deserve that understanding. So please, go ahead and give it to yourself.
6. Make Your Mental Health A Priority
I know how easy it is to take our mental health for granted thinking that it’s not really that important. I’m no stranger to this feeling.
For years, I chose to ignore the importance of my mental health and continued to push myself to burnout and exhaustion. Thinking that being productive equals a happier and more fulfilled life.
It wasn’t until I found myself at the lowest point of my life that I finally realize how crucial our mental health is. Our mental health is not something that we just easily put on the back burner. Our mental health should be on the top of our priority list.
By making your mental health a priority, you are giving yourself a safe space to nurture your potential, invest in yourself, and manage and listen to your emotions.
Giving yourself the space to acknowledge and understand what you’re feeling will help you navigate life’s ups and downs and manage stress effectively leading you to happier life.
Here are mental goals that you can add on your to-do list to help drastically improve your mental health.
7. Live Authentically
There’s no denying that in today’s world, it is easy to get caught up in this notion that we have to be a certain way or live a certain way for us to be accepted and worthy.
It’s easy to get caught up in pretending to be somebody that we are not just so we can meet other people’s expectations of us or just so we can feel validated and enough. But the thing is, time is fleeting.
Your life is far too precious to just spend it living somebody else’s life. Pretending to be somebody that we are not is exhausting and not to mention mentally and emotionally draining. It’s time to set yourself free from that burden and be true to yourself.
Remember that you don’t have to gain somebody else’s approval or validation just to be enough. You are enough and worthy just as you are now and the only validation that you will ever need is your own.
Stop putting on a show and know that you are amazing just as you are. Accept yourself wholeheartedly. Live the life that you want and go after the things that genuinely make you happy. Stop wasting your time spending your life unhappy and miserable because you’re too busy being somebody else and chasing somebody else’s approval.
Set your spirit free and start living your life authentically.
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8. Live One Day At A Time
Are you also guilty of spending so much time worrying about the future or ruminating about the past?
Most of us are guilty of just living our days trapped worrying about all the what if’s of the future or still replaying events from our past without realizing that time is passing us by and we are robbing ourselves of the chance to enjoy every moment of our life.
When you live one day at a time, you are allowing yourself to embrace the present moment. Instead of getting caught up in the past or the anxieties of the future, you are allowing yourself to live and enjoy the moment that is happening right in front of you.
Learning to live one day at a time does not only help you make your days more meaningful but it also frees you from the feeling of overwhelm that you usually get because of worrying too much about tomorrow’s to-do list and uncertainties.
By being present you get to savor every moment of your life, every precious time spent with the people that you love, and enjoy every milestone and celebration.
By living one day at a time, you allow yourself the space to find happiness in the present moment which ultimately leads to a sense of peace and contentment.
9. Set Healthy Boundaries
Are you constantly overextending yourself? How many times have you said yes to things you didn’t want to do in the first place because you were so afraid of disappointing other people?
I have found myself in that exact same place countless times. I thought that putting other people’s needs first is the right thing to do regardless of how exhausted and drained I was already feeling. So that’s what I did for years and I constantly put all my needs on the back burner thinking that they weren’t really that important.
But again, I was wrong. Setting boundaries is not selfish. Just like it’s not selfish to prioritize your needs and well-being. It is a necessity.
When you set healthy boundaries, you are not only respecting yourself and your needs but you are also making time for the things that truly matter to you. By saying no to the things that no longer align with your beliefs and values, you now have the time to say yes to the things that are important to you and truly uplift your spirits.
Setting healthy boundaries is a form of self respect. It is not about only doing things for yourself moving forward, it is about finding the perfect balance between giving and receiving. It is about helping other people without over extending yourself and neglecting your needs.
Remember you deserve to respect yourself and honor your needs, so, don’t be afraid to set those boundaries.
10. Embrace Failures
Are you also afraid of failing and making mistakes? I’m definitely guilty of this and truth be told, sometimes I still find myself struggling with this.
Growing up, I was made to believe that failures are a bad thing and that failures meant that I wasn’t good enough. So, for the longest time, I spent so much time and energy doing what it takes to avoid them but of course, that was not possible.
So, every time I do fail, I end up hating myself and feeling so worthless. If you also feel the same way, I want you to know that failures and mistakes are not a verdict of your abilities and worth.
Failures doesn’t mean that you are not good enough. It is actually more like a detour, a twist in your journey. Human as we are, we are all bound to fail and you are not an exemption from that.
I’ve learned that fearing failure will only lead to unhappiness and disappointment. We have to acknowledge that when things don’t go according to our plans or we fall short of our goals, it doesn’t define our abilities. Failures are actually necessary for us to grow and become the best version of ourselves.
We should not treat it as a dead-end, we should see it as an opportunity for growth, a stepping stone toward personal development and success. So, embrace those failures, learn from them and just keep pushing forward.
Here’s a great post from Psychology Today that will help you learn how to embrace failure.
11. Let Kindness Be Your Superpower
In a world full of hatred and anger, be the change and let kindness become your superpower. Life can be challenging and overwhelming and we truly will never know what each of us is going through every single day.
Instead of sprinkling hate and anger, let’s offer kindness and compassion everywhere we go. Being kind does not only tremendously impact your happiness and well-being but it also makes a positive difference.
Remember that kindness doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Regardless of how small it may seem, it can make a big difference to other people. I found that being kind has a way of opening our eyes and reminding us of how blessed we are in life.
It reminds us to be grateful for the things that we have and allows us to find peace in helping alleviate the struggles of other people.
12. Embrace Uncertainty
Life will always be full of twists and turns, unexpected surprises and uncertainties and change will always be a part of it. I know that most of us fear uncertainties and change. I certainly do.
I hate change and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I chose to stay still, stuck and unhappy, instead of making a change because to me staying still was safe and comfortable. It didn’t matter how miserable I was feeling.
But I’ve learned that life is far too precious to just waste it living every day of our lives unhappy. I know that uncertainties can be scary and sometimes overwhelming but know that it is when we open ourselves up to them that we allow ourselves to grow, learn and unlock our fullest potential.
Embracing change and uncertainties allows you to enjoy the journey of life, instead of constantly fixating on the things that are out of your control. Remember that life’s surprises are not always scary, oftentimes they can bring unexpected happiness and joys and opportunities for growth and learning.
Please know that these rules to be happy in life are certainly not strict guidelines for happiness but rather a gentle reminder that I’m hoping will help you navigate the tough seasons and dark times in your life.
Remember that there is no universal rule to happiness. We each have our own definition of happiness and ultimately, this is your journey. So only choose the ones that you think are best for you.
Before I end this post, I want you to know that you have the power within you to create a happy and fulfilled life. Know that happiness is within your reach. I’m rooting for you.