- Find out what to do first.
How are you supposed to build the right happiness skills if you don't know which ones you are struggling with in the first place? This is why it's helpful to take a quiz to explore your happiness strengths and weaknesses. Get a better understanding of what these skills are all about, and learn how to improve upon your weaknesses and build your "happiness strengths."
- Give yourself a confidence boost.
Why would you bother increasing your happiness if you didn't think you could be successful at it? You wouldn't. That's why it's so important to build your self-efficacy — to prove to yourself that you can increase your happiness. The best way to do this is by starting with easier skills — skills like gratitude or prioritizing spending time doing fun things. Get a quick win, and you'll be more confident that you really can change your life.
- Fuel your progress by learning how to feel better about yourself.
You wouldn't practice math to get better at cooking. And you wouldn't learn another language to lose weight. To be happier, you'll likely make more progress by focusing on the skills that are most closely linked to happiness. In my research, the skill that usually turns out to be most closely linked to happiness is: positive self-views. Learning how to feel better about yourself — for example, by imagining your best possible self, noting your positive qualities, or identifying your strengths — can go a long way to increasing your happiness.
- Create balance and overcome burnout.
How are you supposed to have the energy to be happier if you're exhausted and miserable from work? It will be really hard. Building new skills, skills that will help you be happier, will take time and energy. So it's helpful first to create better work-life balance.
- Build a growth mindset for happiness.
A growth mindset refers to the belief that we can change ourselves. When we build a growth mindset for happiness, we believe we can change our happiness. This is super important, because if we don't believe we can increase our happiness, we won't even bother to try.
- Make positive memories.
Every region in our brains can be strengthened through practice. If our brains are really good at remembering negative things that happen, it can be useful to strengthen the regions of the brain responsible for remembering positive things.
- End your negative patterns of thinking.
Let's face it: Sometimes we are what's making us miserable. We just can't stop thinking about how so-and-so wronged us, or how our life didn't turn out as we hoped. Negative thought processes — like worrying, ruminating, self-judgment, and fearing rejection — just keep us miserable and unable to move forward. When you find yourself thinking negatively, pause and refocus your thoughts. In time, your brain will be able to do this more easily on its own.
- Explore what happiness means to you.
We all define happiness in different ways. When you know what happiness means to you, you'll have an easier time finding it. So explore happiness — what it means, what it looks like, and what it feels like — to more easily create it.
- Go after life.
How are you supposed to change your life by doing the same things you've always done? It's pretty tough. Instead, push yourself to overcome fear and approach life with enthusiasm. Try "doing the opposite" to see how it feels and to make your brain more flexible.
- Speak up and be yourself.
When we let people walk all over us, we're unhappy. But when we advocate for our own needs assertively and express ourselves, we feel more in control of our lives. Learning how to express yourself can help you overcome interpersonal challenges, which can make you unhappy.