How to Become a Happier Person


Happiness is a mindset or attitude that comes from the way you think about your world. It is experienced as a state of contentment or well-being.

Achieving this state of mind does not require that you live in a special place, accumulate a large amount of money (okay, it helps a little) or even that you have the best of health.

It is thought that only about 10 percent of the variation in people’s reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances.

Most of what determines happiness is due to personality and, more importantly, thoughts and behaviors that can be changed. (At the end of this article you can take the Happiness Quiz  created by psychologists at Oxford University). 

Happiness is derived from the sum of life choices a person makes. Happier people tend to build their lives on some of the following principles:

Appreciation: There is no substitute for gratitude. When you recognize or acknowledge that there are positive aspects of your life that you are thankful for such as: health, love, friends and family, etc., you elevate your mood.

Consciousness: Living in the moment or being present focuses the mind on the NOW. That focus enables the person to enjoy the experience, whatever that may be. For example, it could be the difference between truly enjoying an evening with friends or a loved one by being totally immersed in the joy of the moment, versus being preoccupied with concerns about how much traffic there will be on the way home.

Optimism: Optimism is the tendency to view events or challenges in one’s life as opportunities to create the most favorable outcome. It does not mean that you view the world naively without regard to danger or negative possibilities. Learning to become optimistic would mean that you train yourself consciously and intentionally to look at the upside of any challenge. By doing so your mood will likely become more elevated and your creativity will grow.

Balance: This refers to the idea that we need to do more than just work and spend most of our time narrowly focused on our own needs. Enjoying friends and family, devoting time to help others and creating positive channels for recreation can build a balanced and more fulfilling life.

Purpose:  Happier people tend to find meaning or purpose in their lives. Psychiatrist Victor Frankl was a young man who survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

In conclusion, learning how to be a happier person can be accomplished if you are willing to employ the principles discussed in this article. It just takes hard work!

Now you can take the Happiness Quiz.

Quiz: Are You Happy?

For each of the following statements and/or questions, please write down the number on the scale that best applies to you.

1. In general, I consider myself:

     1            2          3            4           5           6           7
not a very                                                              a very
happy person                                                         happy person

2. Compared with most of my peers, I consider myself:

     1            2          3            4           5           6           7
less happy                                                            more happy

3. Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization describe you?

     1            2          3            4           5           6           7
Not at all                                                                a great deal

4. Some people are generally not very happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. To what extent does this characterization describe you?

     1            2          3            4           5           6           7
a great deal                                                            not at all

5. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.

     1            2          3            4           5           6           7
Not at all                                                                a great deal

31-35: You are extremely satisfied with your life.
26-30: Very satisfied.
21-25: Reasonably satisfied.
20: Neutral
15-19: Slightly unsatisfied
10-14: Unsatisfied
5-9: Extremely unsatisfied

Dr. Stan Hyman has been helping individuals, couples and business partners create solutions and find new ways to develop great relationships. He has been a practicing therapist and relationship coach for over 20 years. He has written numerous articles including, Rebuilding Trust, Recovering from Affairs, What Every Couple Should Learn and many more (see my website and Newsletters)

He is available via Skype, webcam, telephone and in person and coaches individuals and couples both in the U.S. and internationally.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.