We all want to live happy and fulfilling lives, but why is achieving and maintaining happiness so difficult?
And come to think of it, is happiness a state of mind or a fleeting emotion that comes and goes? How can you consciously choose to be happy in all situations and despite your circumstances?
Keep reading as we explore together ways to deliberately choose happiness. Learning how to develop a happy state of mind will help you stay positive, regardless of what’s happening around you.
Let’s get into it.
Is Happiness a State of Mind?
Here’s a straightforward answer: yes, true happiness is a state of mind, and it is not dependent on external circumstances or accomplishments.
Think of true happiness like joyfulness, which is a deeper and more enduring emotion rooted in a firm understanding that all is well, no matter what external circumstances may suggest.
Indeed, people feel happy and joyful when they achieve a goal, receive good news, spend time with loved ones, or experience some kind of pleasure. This type of happiness is an outward expression and is usually temporary.
True happiness comes from within ― arising from a sense of gratitude, inner peace, and connection to something greater than us. This is why true happiness or joy is considered a state of being rather than something temporary or a fleeting emotion.
While all these may sound too out there for some, there is nothing mysterious about achieving and maintaining a state of true happiness.
If you’ve always wondered, “Is happiness a state of mind?” here’s a simpler way to view the concept. Happiness is an attitude comprising your predominant thoughts, feelings, and outlook.
What does this mean?
This state of mind can be developed through certain simple practices done regularly over time. Yes, it takes time, commitment, and consistency, and it calls for patience with yourself, others, and unpleasant situations (but mostly yourself). But isn’t that how any quality worth developing works?
How to Achieve a State of Happiness
Since you’re still reading, I assume you’re ready to explore ways to achieve true happiness and make them a regular part of your life.
Here are some effective ways to develop this attitude or achieve a happy state of mind.
Accept Yourself and Your Situations
Nearly everyone knows perfectionism is a myth, but that doesn’t necessarily stop us from pursuing it.
And what’s the proof that we’re still invested in this unattainable goal? Here are a few:
- We push against seemingly imperfect situations
- We postpone our happiness until everything is just right (or perfect)
- We wait for the stars to align to do what we truly want
However, we are not perfect ― not by a long shot! And there will always be something in our lives that needs improvement.
The first step toward achieving inner peace and happiness is giving up the need to be perfect. Accept yourself, flaws and all. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses; they all make you who you are.
Embracing yourself and your situation means nothing needs to change for you to be genuinely happy, even if your situation is unfavorable.
Don’t take this the wrong way, though.
Striving for excellence is not the same as perfectionism. Instead, it is working on becoming the best version of self, which includes accepting mistakes, shortcomings, and setbacks as part of the learning process.
Once you embrace this fundamental truth, you free yourself from the unnecessary emotional pain and suffering that comes with trying to be perfect or have perfect circumstances.
How do you accept yourself and your situations?
Every day, create time to examine the ideas, goals, and things that no longer serve you and let go of them. Practicing detachment in this way frees you from the emotional baggage that can get in your way of being happy.
Ground Yourself in the Present
One of the ways we put ourselves under unnecessary stress is by living in the past or future. Interestingly, many of us don’t believe in the power of using our imaginations to create or affect our current reality. Yet, we spend a chunk of our time daily in our imaginations (mostly unconsciously).
Unfortunately, when we tap into our imagination, we use it to spoil our mood in the present and wonder why we can’t live happy lives.
Re-living past negative experiences or worrying endlessly about things going wrong in the future isn’t the best use of our imaginations.
Enough about the power of imagination; how do you ground yourself in the present and stop messing up your current reality with unfounded fears and unnecessary what-ifs?
Here are a few mindfulness practices that can help (I suggest adding them to your daily routine):
- Meditation: Research shows that with regular practice, meditation can help you respond more calmly, regardless of whatever situation you experience. If you’re not down with the idea of sitting cross-legged to do meditation, you can assume any comfortable sitting position or even lie down during the practice. The most important thing is being consistent with the practice.
- Conscious breathing exercises: Take time to focus on your breath as often as possible. By deliberately slowing down your breathing pattern, you can feel more relaxed, and it helps to relieve anxiety about past or future fears.
- Single-tasking: While it may not seem obvious, multitasking creates pressure and stress, increasing your chances of unhappiness. Cultivate the habit of focusing on completing one task at a time. This will help you channel your energy to the task at hand and be more productive.
Read this guide to discover more mindfulness exercises you can incorporate into your daily life to help you feel more grounded and centered.
Count Your Blessings
Okay, this may sound cliché, but unhappiness, worrisome thoughts, and a pessimistic outlook on life usually develop when we lose sight of the many blessings in our lives.
If you’ve always wondered why happiness and a positive mindset come easier for some people than others, this right here is the secret.
In other words, you can make happiness a state of mind by regularly feeding your brain with the positive things happening in your life.
While you can think about your blessings, I recommend starting a gratitude journal and writing down everything you are grateful for. And if you have trouble coming up with something positive each day, check out these simple strategies to help attune your mind to the pluses in your life.
And while we’re still on the subject of focusing on the good in your life, make it a point to check in with your thought patterns every now and then, especially when faced with challenging situations.
You want to catch pessimistic thought patterns that interfere with a happy mindset. Of course, you’ll never completely banish negative thoughts ― no one can. But regular internal check-ins will ensure you are predominantly maintaining a positive mindset.
Continuously Choose Happiness
You’ve probably heard that attention goes where energy flows, and there’s no denying the truth of this statement.
Many people experience only fleeting happiness because they don’t make the conscious effort to choose it repeatedly. Instead, their attention and focus are all over the place.
To build a positive mindset and develop an attitude of happiness, you must train your mind to focus on only what you want because that’s where your energy will flow.
It’s easy to get carried away with negativity, especially when negative news travels faster than positive news. However, focusing on the negatives or trying to wrestle them to the ground usually doesn’t lead to more happiness.
Bad things will happen; there’s nothing you can do about it. And it goes back to the first strategy I discussed: to accept yourself and situations as they are.
That said, you can continuously choose happiness despite your unpleasant situation.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Celebrate your small wins: While big victories are great and can increase your sense of fulfillment and pleasure, they don’t happen daily. Acknowledge and celebrate your small victories every day or as often as possible. This way, you won’t define your success or happiness by big wins.
- Do what you love: Make your life exciting by chasing the dreams that make you come alive, taking up hobbies you love, or doing things that resonate deeply with you. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new experiences; it is life calling you to explore!
- Pamper yourself: Make time to cater to your physical, emotional, and mental needs. Do this religiously; soon enough, you’ll develop an unshakable sense of inner calm and peace. This may sound selfish, but self-care is far from being selfish.
Is happiness a state of mind? You bet it is, and just about anyone can achieve it. All it takes is consistently practicing the thought patterns and habits that lead to inner peace and a positive mindset.
Now that you know exactly how to cultivate a happy attitude, it’s up to you to continuously choose happiness, regardless of external situations.