How to find happiness in 5 easy steps

By: Gehna Singh

Author: Canadian Living


How to find happiness in 5 easy steps

By: Gehna Singh
For many of us, happiness comes with conditions: "I'll be happy when I win the lottery." "I'll be happy when I meet the right person." "If I could just lose 20 pounds, I'd be so happy."

While these things can seem blissful, the type of happiness they bring is often fleeting and can leave you feeling emptier than ever. It's important to understand how to find happiness by giving yourself a chance to be encouraged by the things you do on a daily basis.

"Getting attached to ‘things' or ideals that you assume will make you happy is not the way to true happiness," says family psychotherapist Hanna McDonough. She maintains that happiness -- the real kind -- comes from a deep sense of self-awareness, a close network of friends and family, and continued focus on self-improvement.

The good news is that while the road to happiness will be filled with twists and turns, you can learn how to find happiness with little steps that you can take every day.

Simple steps to find happiness

1. Ditch the drama
We all have friends and family members in our lives who seem to be addicted to drama. Every event appears to be an ordeal and, by extension, you manage to get entangled.

"Unravel yourself from their mess," says McDonough. "While you can lend an ear of support and offer a few words of wisdom, you can't solve their problems, no matter how good your intentions are," she says.

2. Edit your definition of success
Avoid measuring your successes against someone else's standards. It's a no-win situation. Instead, set goals you would like to achieve and keep them manageable, simple and interesting enough so you stay focused.

"Don't expect to be perfect. Setting reasonable goals for yourself is key if you want to live a happy life – otherwise what you do will never be enough," says McDonough. For example, if you're a couch potato who wants to get moving again, set a goal of running a 5K – not a marathon. That way, your goal won't seem insurmountable and you will have a better chance of achieving it without getting discouraged.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn how confiding in close friends, and taking their advice to put yourself first, can help you achieve personal happiness on page 2

3. Put yourself first
Keeping yourself emotionally and physically healthy has a huge impact on the state of your happiness. McDonough suggests doing some form of physical exercise every day, whether it's hitting the gym or heading outdoors. Perhaps you can walk your dog before work, or take your child to the playground after dinner for some unwinding time.

"It's a great stress reliever and will do wonders for your emotional and physical well-being." When you learn to be good to yourself, you begin to assert self-confidence and others will treat you with more respect than ever before.

4. Confide in your closest friends and family
A tight network of friends and family members who function as your personal support system will keep you grounded.

"After a good chat with friends or a spouse, the body releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with love and bonding," says McDonough. "It's nature's way to help you stay happy."

Keeping negative thoughts and feelings bottled up inside will only cause you stress and worry. A reliable network of people who are close to you will help you face challenges and celebrate successes.

5. Remove "should have" and "what if" from your vocabulary
Having thoughts such as "I should be married by this age" or "what if I had chosen that job instead of the one I currently have?" only hinders your happiness and puts undue pressure on you. Clear away that mental clutter, says McDonough.

These nagging, persistent thoughts are generally a waste of time and energy and are often focused on things that are in the past. Shake them off and you'll have more energy to devote to following your passions and fulfilling your dreams for the future.

A state of happiness isn't a frantic trek. It's a slow journey of self-discovery. "It's all about how we handle the situations we are in, when we're in them," says McDonough.

With the right positive attitude and supportive people by your side, you can find contentment and happiness in everyday living -- you deserve it.

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How to find happiness in 5 easy steps