Happiness is something many search for and while there is a lot out there saying you have to be happy and positive all the time, that simply isn’t true.
These 12 tips are aimed to help you find happiness and joy as needed but allow yourself to feel all the feelings and don’t put pressure on yourself to only be positive.
In general, for me, a compliment I often receive is that I have a warm, positive energy. I am clearly extremely happy both within myself and with my life in general, although that has not always been the case.
At times I have had issues with depression, anxiety, PTSD and postpartum depression. With professional help and a lot of work myself, I have managed to overcome each trauma in my life that impacted my mental health. See 7 tips that helped improve my mental health.
It has not been an easy road to get to the point I am, but I am grateful for every experience along the way as they have shaped me to be who I am today.
Here are 12 things I have done to cultivate happiness in my life and help change my attitude.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services I use.
1. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
I have a gratitude journal where I write at least one thing a day I am grateful for and it has helped change the way I look at things.
Instead of focusing on all the negatives of a situation I look for what I could be grateful for, what lesson I could learn etc.
Ask yourself what you can be grateful for today then with every negative situation ask what lesson you can learn from it, what opportunities could come and why it could be beneficial.
Read how to have an attitude of gratitude for more on this.
I tried this on and off for years but couldn’t seem to ‘get it’. Once I tried guided meditation I found it worked for me much better than simply trying to clear my mind.
There are so many different ways to meditate, just try different ways until you find what works for you. Mine changes depending on my mood but being consistent with it has improved my overall wellbeing and my kids have commented on the difference.
Meditating regularly helps me stay calm, and collected, make decisions, think things through and see things from a more positive perspective.
Get rid of anything you are not using, you don’t need or don’t love. Having a lot of stuff around, clutter on every surface is depressing.
It drains you of energy and without realising it your mind is sometimes thinking about the mess you need to clean up or sort out, which distracts you from other tasks.
Clear out your home, your car, your workspace and inbox to make room for things that really matter to you and to create an environment where you feel more relaxed and enjoy being.
When I was younger, I was a mess and didn’t bother as much with having a specific place for things or any of that. I was clean, as in cleaned the bathroom, and mopped the floors etc but I was a clutter bug.
Changing my habits in this area did more for my mental health than I thought possible. That said, because I have ADHD, when I say I have a place for everything, for some items such as my glasses I have multiples of them and multiple places they live because I forget where I put them.
4. Get Organized
When you’re living in chaos it’s hard to feel happy and have a balanced life. Get a schedule, automate bills and anything else you can, get a budget and stick to it.
Don’t go so far as to plan every tiny aspect of your life because you still need spontaneity, but for those everyday, mundane things, get a schedule happening.
Get a planner or use an app on your phone to put in all appointments and things you need to do. Menu plan then shop accordingly.
Streamline the aspects of your life you can so you have more time for fun.
One thing I did recently that helped was to create my ideal day and week in Google Calendar. It was based on when I know I work best, exercise is preferred or other activities and it was all scheduled.
This way, I can plan my days and our activities around what I already know is my ideal and it’s easy to set reminders for myself using the Google Calendar app.
5. Love and Accept Love
At times, I felt unworthy of love or unloveable, particularly during my abusive marriage and some other traumatic events.
My capacity to love others has always been huge but that didn’t always flow through to self-love.
Learning to love fully, including myself took a change in thinking and action such as daily affirmations and writing my confidence list.
Realising I am worth it and that I deserve to be loved played a significant part in my overall happiness and energy.
Being able to love myself, accept love from others, recognise I am worthy, valuable and loveable was worth it. It took doing exercises to increase my self-esteem, learning to set boundaries, changing my own thoughts and challenging the negatives ones to get to this point.
In doing so, my capacity to love others increased and the opinions or actions of others no longer negatively impacted me the way it used to.
6. Serve Others
Volunteering for a cause I am passionate about brings me joy. I can be having the worst day, but then go in and see all the wonderful people I spend time with and I feel so good again.
Thinking about other people, serving other people and treating everyone as equal takes the focus away from things that you might think are wrong in your life.
When it comes to serving others, it is important to have boundaries and ensure you are not overdoing it. Sometimes, when we are struggling in life it can be easy to focus too much on others so we don’t have to think about our own problems.
It’s about balance, serving but also taking care of yourself.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Make time for yourself and do what you need to take care of yourself. Don’t wait until you’re at breaking point.
Instead, learn what you need to feel good physically, mentally and spiritually then do it. Take a break when you need or want one, prioritise sleep, do your beauty routine, dress in a way that is comfortable and makes you feel good.
Do what is right for you.
Making your needs a priority and taking care of yourself makes a huge difference to how you feel. Putting yourself last all the time ensures that is what everyone else will do too and you will end up run down, frustrated and burnt out.
Focus on filling your cup first and then on everything and everyone else.
8. Know Who You Are
When suffering with depression and PTSD, I felt lost. Even though I went through the motions of daily life, overall, I had lost my sense of self and lost sight of my core values, interests and passions.
I did what others expected of me or wanted me to do, playing the role that I had sort of fallen into and I hated it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t being true to myself.
Once I decided to take time to focus on who I am, who I want to be, the sort of mother I want to be and how to change myself and my life so I can live true to myself, my whole life changed.
We have more control over our reaction to things and our general attitude than we realise. The more I learn about people, psychology and behaviour, the more I see how much we are not taught of the important things and how many of us live a life where negative emotions and reactions dictate everything.
How you feel, how you react to situations and what you do is mostly your choice. I am not saying you can’t get angry or sad or upset ever, those feelings are normal. How long we feel that way, what we do about it and how we treat others in whatever circumstance we are dealing with is our choice and greatly impact the outcome.
Things will happen that upset us. Express that, let yourself feel the emotions, but don’t dwell on them. Feeling overwhelmed will happen to everyone, learning tools to help you navigate will go a long way to living a happier life.
Some of this can be done through self-help books, podcasts and learning yourself. Professional help through a psychologist can be beneficial too.
Check out how to have an attitude of gratitude.
10. Release People From Your Life
This took me a long time to learn and even longer to implement but it is incredibly freeing.
Many of us have people in our lives who are toxic, whether we recognise it or not. Sometimes we don’t want to admit it because we’ve known them so long or they are related to us or they have good moments.
If they are not helping you, if they make you feel bad about yourself or trigger negative feelings, if they drain your energy and are not contributing to the sort of life you want, if they are abusive in any way, remove them from your life.
You don’t have to keep anyone in your life you don’t want in it. You can change jobs, you can stop hanging out, you can delete and block people from social media and just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean they have to be in your life.
If you can’t cut someone out of your life completely, work on cutting back the amount of time you spend with that person and how much you think about them.
I know in the case of exes, blended families and similar situations this is harder. Check out the grey rock method and read Magic Words: How To Get What You Want From a Narcissist. Also, the Let Them Theory from Mel Robbins (podcast episode with article).
These techniques will help significantly when it comes to dealing with people you have to but don’t want to. When communicating with them, try to do it as much as possible in writing, especially if it involves an ex. Protect yourself, keep it short, use the above techniques and let it go.
You will be much happier for it and instead of your guts twisting for days, the interactions will be easier, shorter and less frequent eventually.
You Will Grieve
A quick note to let you know when you cut people out of your life, you will go through a period of grief and that is normal. Many mixed emotions will happen but if it is the right choice, you will feel better about it over time.
Working with a professional such as a psychologist at this time can be beneficial, even if it is simply to talk it through and be validated in your choices. That can be incredibly powerful.
11. Therapies and Professional Help
Throughout this article, I have referenced psychology but that is not the only form of therapy. Counselling, psychiatry and alternative medicines are all available.
Don’t be afraid to get the help you need. This could be in the form of mental health help such as psychology or it might be more involved.
When seeking out professionals to assist in your healing and happiness, read reviews, ask for referrals from people you know and check with your GP. Finding the right team of professionals might take a little time and it is important you feel comfortable with them and get the results you need.
My GP is amazing, he takes a holistic approach, checks everything and checks in regularly to ensure that whoever he has referred my kids and me to for anything was a good fit for us. He never dismisses our concerns and is committed to ensuring we are healthy, happy and living the life we want.
For me, the holistic approach of having some tests to check nutrient levels and other things in my body, reviewing my eating habits with a nutritionist, exercising, naturopathy, massage, acupuncture and more was extremely beneficial in healing and improving my life.
Reading, listening to podcasts, learning from YouTube and doing all I can to educate myself and make changes to improve my health helped.
The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma was a fascinating read about how much our bodies hold onto, how they do and the relief we can feel when we deal with it all and heal.
You Can Heal Your Life helped me heal my paralysis, issues that previously required multiple surgeries and other physical pain.
I have more listed in my free resources you can get here.
12. Live In The Moment
Be more present. Put your phone away, delete social media apps from it, allocate device-free time, enjoy where you are right now.
Stop worrying about your past or future and start living in the present. If you get organised as I said above, set times to check your finances and things that will matter in the future, you don’t need to worry about it.
Let go of the past. All you can do is learn from it, not live in it. You can’t change it, so stop using your energy wishing things were different.
Live in the now. Appreciate the life you have now and do what makes you happy.
Easier said than done, right? I know I spent way too much time stressed out about the past or future and I know there are real issues around that, disorders and neurodiverse thinking.
I don’t mean this to be dismissive. Combine it with professional help and acceptance to get to the point where you can enjoy the now more and be more present.
We all have moments where that is difficult, but learning some skills to change our thinking can help.
What makes you happy? How have you changed your attitude?
Here are the books and resources mentioned in the article:
7 tips that helped improve my mental health
How to have an attitude of gratitude
Free resources to boost confidence, create routines and improve your life
My morning routine
My evening routine
Work out your core values
Set goals: 10 steps to success
Find balance in your daily life
The grey rock method
Magic Words: How To Get What You Want From a Narcissist
The Let Them Theory from Mel Robbins
The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
You Can Heal Your Life