7 Ways To Be Happy With What You Have, Even When You Want So Much More

Easy, helpful practices designed to help you build a life you love, without sacrificing today.

Happy and confident young woman Josh Hild | Unsplash

We all have idiosyncrasies. Sometimes they even keep us from being the ideal partner, parent, co-worker, or friend. Most of us know (or think we know) what we could or should do to improve ourselves. Some of you have made changes, while others are working on making changes. Either way, the journey to self-improvement isn't always easy and can be bumpy. This can make the process discouraging.

Can you be happy while you work on improving yourself, your circumstances or even your life as a whole? Absolutely. Here's how I suggest going about it. 


RELATED: 7 Things You Can Do That Instantly Put You In A Better Mood

Here are seven ways to be happy with what you have — even when you want so much more.

1. Take action or let it go.

My greatest pull or push is a sentence that hit me strongly when I was reading Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Taken. It was discussing inner and outer conflicts and said, "Do something about it, or let it go."

Of course, that's not a new concept. The serenity prayer urges us to know what we can or can't change and to have the wisdom to know the difference. But I've taped "Do something about it or let it go" on my desktop computer. And, in the past three weeks, it's been there whenever I've felt frustrated, overextended, or torn and have read the sentence, I have taken action or let it go. And that feels good!


a blissful moment

Photo: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock

2. Connect with encouraging friends.

I talk to friends who know I have thousands of emails in my inbox and suggest I not sweat it unless it's getting in my way (since suggestions of deleting all but the past months have not worked). Now, I move emails into my Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth, Writing, or Singles folders (and several more) when I get 10 or 20 stacked up in the inbox.

Part of me agrees — I don't owe myself or anyone else a certain maximum of emails anywhere! And when I look at my priorities: my Managing Difficult Conversations workshops, coaching, writing, and relationships — I know I'd rather spend time on them than weeding out emails. So I suggest you have a friend or two who's on your side to converse with when you need an outside perspective. If you feel more peaceful when you hear their encouragement, connect with them when support keeps you on track.


RELATED: 5 Ways The Universe Tells You It's Time To Change Course & Find A New Destiny

3. Keep a gratitude list.

And add to every day. Okay, three times a week if that's easier. If you value phone calls, hugs, good food, new learnings, social media friends, accomplishments at work, outings, concerts, TV shows, times with friends, etc., you certainly get to be happy with yourself as you improve. Start it today and make a note to check in with your contentment level a week or month from now.

Some people even stop three to five times a day to write a short list of what they're grateful for (or simply what they are enjoying or appreciate at the moment) and find this practice to be even more helpful. Regardless, find a practice that helps you "reset" your attention toward the positive. 

inner balance and peace


Photo: Mkosi Omkhulu via Shutterstock

4. Check in with yourself.

Set a timer for each hour or so, when you focus on work or another important part of your life. When you hear it, check in with yourself. Ask, "What am I happy about this last hour or two?" Answer it aloud, or write it down if that's an easier way to remember all the little and big things that contribute to your contentment.

5. Try the emotional freedom technique.

Read about and practice the Emotional Freedom Technique. Seven friends practiced it at my New Year's Eve party for 20 minutes, and one found enough relief that she cried. The EFT process is connected to acupuncture points and is meant to be a healing process.



RELATED: 4 Blissful Moments That Fill Me With Happiness


6. Write it down.

Write down what you intend to let go of. Write each item three times. For me, that would be my Inner Critic. When she nags, "Moreah, clear your desk. Don't leave papers on the floor", instead of feeling shame or annoyance, I prefer to say something like "I hear you, and I don't want to think about that now. Goodbye." So I write it down three times: "I don't need to do what my Inner Critic says."

When you've done that, put the three statements in the fire, in the garbage, or flush them. If you notice the unwanted experience again, say, "I let go of that," and put your attention elsewhere. OK? OK!

You should also write down the areas where you'd like to improve. I listened to a webinar by Jeannette Maw on December 24 about Slacker Manifesting. She suggested not trying so hard to reach our goals. Since that day, I've written a sentence about what I want to be, do, or feel. On my partner page, I may write, "I love it when we dance and come home and cuddle," even though I've not met that current right guy yet. However, writing down my feelings has helped me cope with them.

she is happy with life


Photo: Alfield Reeves via Shutterstock

On my prosperity page, one of the sentences said, "I love that I made $___ in January, even though that's more than I've made before in a month. I did notice that when I was making calls about my workshop I kept calling because I wanted to meet my goal.

My getting organized page includes, "I love how expansive I feel when I see the clear floor and the cleared desk." Part of the feeling happy with yourself, as you improve, could be the joy you get each day as you read each sentence from the days before in your journal and then add to it. So, decide now what you want to improve, and begin the daily sentences as you visualize who and how you will be when those statements are true and current.




7. Find your personality type.

I've found Enneagrams very instructive. Knowing I'm an 'enneagram 7', an adventurer, and that none of the 9 personality styles is right or wrong, I read and note the ways a 7 is at her best or not at her best. I am easily distracted by many things, and I love to Google many subjects or follow up on almost anything that intrigues or stimulates my imagination. 

Just now, as I'm writing at a coffee shop with a friend, I got the urge for a cookie. No Inner Critic stepped in. So I paid $1.75 and put the change in my coin purse. My habit has often been to drop it into my backpack and find it later. I know I want to be more conscientious about handling things at the moment, so I took the extra seconds to pull out the coin purse and add the quarter. And I felt happy with myself.

RELATED: What Your Enneagram Personality Type Incredibly Reveals About Who You Really Are


Morah Vestan is a life coach, communication trainer, and author. She has an M.A. in Adult Education and was a relationship columnist for 16 years for Seattle's Active Singles Life.