how to be happy

10 Thoughts on Happiness

“I just want my child to be happy.” That is most American parents’ wish. But if our children are to be happy, we must learn how to be happy ourselves. In a movie I watched the other night, the main character’s daughter said she wanted him to be happy. When he told her that he was, she responded, “Trust me, Dad, you’re not happy.” Our kids are watching and can tell how we’re doing.

So how are you doing with being happy? Use these 10 thoughts on happiness to find out.

1. Trying Too Hard

The pursuit of happiness can actually backfire, say experts at the University of Denver. People who place a high value on happiness have, on average, 17 more symptoms of depression than those who don’t. Instead, happiness is the byproduct of doing something worth doing well. Focus on that and happiness very well could follow.

2. Money

According to Dr. John Grohol, CEO and founder of Psych Central, people who spend their time and money on doing things together report higher levels of happiness than those who buy more stuff. This is because our memories keep an emotional photograph of the experience, whereas the material things don’t make as big an emotional imprint. Also, use your money and time in a lasting, meaningful way by helping others.

3. Musical Inspiration

Studies have found that listening to music can lift your spirits and put you in a better mood. The genre makes no difference. Any music can be part of how to be happy, as long as it’s music you enjoy. “For some people, it’s Bach; for others, it’s heavy metal,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.

4. Being Content

Find happiness in who you are, where you are, and the talents that God gave you.

According to Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, American culture is obsessed with climbing the ladder of success—but at what cost? Too often, we get caught up in dissatisfaction with ourselves because we are comparing ourselves to others. This constant comparison is damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Find happiness in who you are, where you are, and the talents that God gave you.

5. Choosing Happiness

Internal factors play a larger role in how to be happy than external factors. Studies have shown that only 10% of happiness occurs because of external factors. Personal happiness relies more on internal factors such as attitude, relationships, and outlook on life. In fact, outlook on life determines at least 50% of a person’s happiness.

6. Thankfulness

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.

7. Books

Researchers at the University of Maryland have found that people who read books are happier than people who watch TV. This even goes for books with depressing plots. The logic makes sense, as reading a book is an active process and the person can really get involved, unlike while watching TV.

8. The Outdoors

For many, the key to how to be happy is found outdoors. In a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of subjects got a boost in energy and had their outlook brightened by spending time outdoors around trees, grass, and living creatures. Get outside and get some fresh air. Take a quick walk around the block to take in the outdoors. Every time you go outside, there’s something new to see; it’s never the same.

9. Laughter

According to Time Magazine, “People are 30 times more likely to laugh in groups than alone and, not surprisingly, laughter is associated with helping to develop person-to-person connections…” Laughter reduces certain stress hormones and strengthens your immune system. Laughter promotes better health and a sense of contentment. So try to fit some good clean TV comedies into your day for a quick laugh.

10. Companionship

Close relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones bring happiness, too, according to researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. Take a look at really happy people; you will notice they likely have supportive families, close friends, and strong relationships. Don’t go through life alone.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Ways to Be a Happy Mom.

Sound off: Do you know how to be happy? What are your thoughts?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things that make you happy?”