How to be Happy

Happiness is something that we always want to find, yet for many it eludes us. The following article was taken from MSN and after reading it, you will find out that it isn't that hard to find happiness.


How To Be Happy:
Find joy in the people and places around you!
by Sara Eckel
from MSN WomenCentral


Last night, I had dinner with a friend who has everything I want: a beautiful brownstone house filled with expensive furniture, a smart and funny husband, an adorable baby girl and a published novel. She just told me that she's miserable. "I know it's terrible," she said. "I have nothing to complain about. But I've always been miserable. I get it from my mother she was a real grump." I was surprised; I had always thought she was happy. Not that I ever asked her. Of course she's happy, I figured, she has all the toys.

This deduction is a common mistake, says David Niven, Ph.D., author of "The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People." "One thing that continually shocks people is that the events of a person's life have little to do with how happy he or she is," says Dr. Niven. Rather, as my friend suspected, genetics is about 50 percent responsible for our level of happiness, says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking book "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience." Fortunately, we have a significant amount of control over the other half. Here, some ways to tend to your mental health and happiness today:

Appreciate the moment. Many of us view happiness as a future state: something we'll achieve when we get that great job, beautiful home or handsome husband. And while we do often feel quite elated when we attain these goals, the bliss is usually short-lived and quickly followed by a desire for something else, whether it's more money, a renovated kitchen or flowers on Valentine's Day. "That's why winning the lottery or getting a promotion doesn't work. You're always looking toward the next step," explains Dr. Csikszentmihalyi.

To break that looking-ahead cycle, you need to cultivate an appreciation of your life as it is now dissatisfying job and all. Csikszentmihalyi says people have a natural tendency to think about what's not working in their lives and ignore the good stuff. So make a list of everything that you love about your life Thursday-night Chardonnays with the girls, the nature trail nearby, the way your two-year-old looks in her Halloween costume and then remind yourself to really savor them.

Give yourself a higher calling. Csikszentmihalyi says that people are happy when they feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves, whether through their job, family or community. "Happy people don't ruminate about themselves and their problems. They say, Life is short. I'd better do something useful."

But you don't have to have a large family or a job vaccinating orphans in order to lead a fulfilling life. Take the real-estate agent I know. Truly invested in helping people find the right home, he will often steer prospective tenants away from listings he considers subpar, depending upon their needs and desires. If he was strictly out for his commission, he wouldn't get nearly the same job satisfaction (and, in the long run, he probably wouldn't make as much money, either). So think about the ways you can transform your perspective of your daily tasks. In addition, you can always build small acts of kindness into your day, such as giving up your seat on the bus, putting a quarter in a stranger's ready-to-expire parking meter or clicking on The Breast Cancer Site (, where you can help fund mammograms for poor women. These things do make a difference in others' lives.

You flow, girl. We've all had those moments when things feel completely right in our world. Perhaps you were cross-country skiing through a beautiful ice-coated forest or creating a scrapbook of snapshots and ticket stubs from your trip to Los Angeles. You spent the day completely immersed in the activity, and when you finally looked at your watch, you were startled to realize how much time had passed. Csikszentmihalyi says these moments of complete absorption are when people are happiest, a state he calls "flow." "These are the moments people treasure in their lives, and the more of them you get, the better off you are," he says. To find your flow, first get a hobby an activity you do for pure enjoyment. Think about the stuff you loved to do as a kid ballet lessons, pottery, pickup basketball and then just go with it.

Examine your options. One crucial difference between happy people and unhappy people is that the former believe they have choices. Two workers could be toiling away at the same understimulating job with the same impossible-to-please boss but have completely different experiences: one feeling that the situation is hopeless, the other seeing a way out, either through moving up in the company or dusting off her resume. So even if the happy person stays on the job, she still feels she is doing so by choice.

That's why it's important to cultivate friends and activities that will increase your sense of options, anything from taking night classes to joining an Internet dating service to sitting down with a good friend and brainstorming about your dreams for the future. Actually, you're already doing one of those things. Studies show that people who use computers tend to be happier than people who don't. "People feel a sense of possibilities when they use their computer," says Niven. "It gives you access to information and to connections. If you have an interest in an obscure hobby, there may not be anyone in your town who shares it, but you can probably find at least 100 people online who do."

Nurture your relationships. Having a strong connection to others be they family or friends is a crucial part of mental health; but unfortunately, many of us simply focus on what our relationships are or aren't giving us rather than asking ourselves what we can do to bolster the people in our lives. But Csikszentmihalyi says the key to having fulfilling relationships is to invest in others without expecting anything back. "It can't be quid pro quo," he says. Paradoxically, those who expect the least from loved ones, usually get the most. "That's the interesting thing," says Csikszentmihalyi. "The less you try, the more you succeed."