The ideas here can help most people feel happier but aren’t meant to replace treatment for mental health conditions. Chat with a registered nurse to get personalized advice if you’re struggling with your mental health.
Ah, happy. Many of us want more of it in our lives, but we’re not always sure how to make it happen.
True happiness is a combination of how good you feel day-to-day and how generally satisfied you are with your life. The benefits go beyond simply feeling good —which is pretty great on its own — to direct impacts on other parts of your health, too.
- Support a healthy immune system.
- Help combat stress.
- Increase productivity.
- Make it easier to sleep more soundly.
Set yourself up for happiness success with some proven mindsets that can help make you feel more joyful and content with your life naturally.
Toxic positivity is different than happiness
Good vibes… sometimes. When it comes to “positivity,” there really is too much of a good thing.
Feelings we classify as positive, like happiness, don’t work so well for us if we force them. The authenticity behind this is essential. You might have heard popular advice like “put on a happy face” and others with fake-it-’til-you-make-it energy that you should just act happy first, and then real happiness will follow.
For minor problems, or just to help you relax, there’s some truth to this. Reframing negative situations into positive ones is a great way to manage your mental wellbeing and feel happier. If you’re generally in a robust and positive state of mind and just wake up a little grumpy, the physical act of smiling can put you into a positive mood.
On the flip side, when you are dealing with more profound and complex feelings — like worry, anxiety or grief — it’s crucial to give yourself the space and self-compassion to feel what you need to feel.
Toxic positivity happens when you begin to feel that you should always see the positive in situations and begin to deny or feel shame about negative emotions or moments when you feel sad.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but allowing yourself to process “negative” emotions is incredibly healthy and a necessary step on your road back to happiness.
There are no bad emotions. All emotions are important and give useful information about your feelings, sense of safety, and what matters to you. Try to listen to all of them — both the happy and less happy ones.
Feeling sadness is a necessary part of feeling happiness
Some unhappy moments are a part of life. If you feel long periods of ongoing sadness, trouble sleeping, outbursts of anger, or lose interest in things that used to bring you joy, then you could be dealing with depression. Getting support is an important first step. Chat with a registered nurse or Care Navigator to find out what’s available to you.
For the temporary moments of sadness that will inevitably come, you don’t need to pretend to be happy. Unhappy moments help shape who you are and build resilience. It’s important to have the right tools to help you healthily cope and move forward constructively.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re feeling down:
- Try to pinpoint why you’re feeling the way you do. Was there a specific moment or event? Identifying the root cause of an unhappy feeling can help you find a solution.
- What’s something you can do to help you shift and recover? It could be an activity you love, chatting it out with a friend or loved one you trust, or getting outside for a quick walk.
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Trying too hard to be happy can make you unhappy
In pursuing happiness, the key is not to pursue it too much.
Try not to overthink happiness. (We know, we wrote a blog all about happiness, but hear us out.) The more we can approach happiness as actions we take long-term and not something we need to increase or maintain in the short-term, the more likely we are to feel satisfied with our happiness levels.
It’s a paradox, but caring too much about happiness leads to less happiness. Research has shown that over-valuing happiness can be self-defeating. The more importance you place on it, the more likely you’ll feel disappointed.
So how do you not care? Isn’t the whole point of this caring about happiness?
Well, sort of. There are certain mindsets you can adopt that will help you balance a desire for true happiness in your life but take some of the pressure off at the same time.
1. Think of happiness as a journey, not a destination
It’s helpful to think of happiness as something that you are working towards in the future, not something that should immediately happen. It’s not unlike saving up for something special: the big difference comes from the small amounts you store away each day.
As you cultivate happiness over and over in your daily life, you’ll sense yourself feeling more positive without pressuring yourself to arrive at any ideal end state.
2. Reframe happiness as something you do, not something you are
It can be easier to slip into critical thinking and consider yourself as failing to be happy when you think of it as a state of being or something you become.
When you think of happiness as actions and something that you work on doing — no different from exercising or eating a particular food — it gives you a sense of removal from the pressure to “be” a specific way.
If you miss an action that helps make you happy, no big deal. You’ll do it the next time.
3. Acknowledge that happiness is different for everyone
There’s a stereotypical idea of “happiness” as chipper, smiley and energetic. While it certainly can be those things, a deeper experience of happiness is more individual.
Happiness isn’t one size fits all. How you feel most positively will be different than the folks around you. For some people, happiness manifests as a calmer and more centered feeling. For others, it can be energizing and directed outward.
Happiness for one person is dancing around the room like nobody’s watching. For another, it’s reading a book with a cat on their lap. Whatever makes you feel the most fulfilled and helps you live out your personal values is how happy will show up for you.