Chronic Unhappiness? A 15-Step Guide on How to Get Happy Again

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[Self-compassion Video from TheSchoolofLife]

Table of Contents

1. Practice Gratitude

be grateful
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There are lots of ways to show or express gratitude but it’s especially important to feel gratitude if you want to get happy.

“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune system” — Happify, The Science Behind Gratitude

Start a gratitude journal to enter into each morning, evening, or both. This starts and ends your days on a positive note that keeps your positive emotions glowing and intact. Begin your journal with 3 – 5 things for which you are grateful right now. If this is difficult for you, simply look around and view your surroundings and learn to be grateful for the little things. We all have qualities that are admirable, skills that are useful, and people that we love. So, sit down and write your gratitude list. Your happiness will thank you.


2. Get Enough Sleep


A good night’s sleep is something we all need to get happy when life becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, when we ignore this basic human need, we suffer the consequences of irritability, lack of focus, and loss of energy. So, if you find it difficult to sleep peacefully through the night, it’s time to take a look at ways to improve your sleeping patterns to help you get happy.

One thing to remember is that it is not only about total hours of sleep. It is also about taking steps to improve the quality of your sleep.

Here are some suggestions to help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day’s challenges:

– Set a regular bedtime and stick to a regular sleep routine.

– Stop drinking coffee or any other stimulating or mind-altering drink during the day.

– De-stress yourself with a hot bath or envision a relaxing scene while lying in bed.

– Exercise during the day to relieve muscle tension, however, it is not advisable right before bedtime. Instead, before bedtime, stretches are an excellent way to relax and fall into a deep slumber.

– Make your bedroom a sanctuary of sleep. Remove all devices with blue lights that keep you awake and design your bedroom for a soothing experience.

Reference: Mental Health America


3. Know You Are Worthy

know you are worthy

How many times a day do you say something disparaging to yourself? This becomes a debilitating habit for some people because they simply are not aware that they are harming themselves. Rather than get stuck in this negative thought pattern, why not say pleasant things to yourself to get happy? Build yourself up with positive self-talk on a regular basis and you will soon realize how much you love yourself.

A good friend of mine who encourages people to care for themselves in a loving way ends each of her videos by wrapping her arms around herself and saying out loud, “Oh my God! I love myself!” It sets such a tremendous example for the rest of us to remember to take the time for self-love. When we learn to genuinely love and care for ourselves, our minds find more balance. Moreover, we are then able to freely love others as well as ourselves.


4. Learn to Forgive


The first thing to know is that forgiveness is not something you do for the individual that hurt you. Instead, it is something you do exclusively for you. When you forgive, you accept the reality of the situation and find a way to resolve it so that you can live without continual sadness.

Another factor is that you must be willing to forgive and when the pain is too deep, that gets difficult. You might even become addicted to the adrenalin that produces angry feelings. First, look closely to see the reality of the incident and then keep what you have learned from it. Next, try to find empathy for the other person’s actions which will ease your anger significantly, however, that does not mean you need to go back for more!

Remember, forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. It is to get you back on the right track so that you move on without debilitating anger in your life.

Reference: Psychology Today


5. The Art of Giving Back


Even those who live a life of success and abundance are sometimes left with an empty, hollow feeling like something is missing. When you feel empty inside, consider the art of giving back what you receive. Because you see, your consideration of others’ wellbeing is also an investment in yourself.

We’ve been told, “It’s often more blessed to give than to receive.” And it might sound very strange, but the truth is, the person who receives gets the thing, but the person who gives —gets the bigger blessing—your heart expands. If you do that, I promise you, you will never be the same. – Maya Angelou The Secret Power of Giving Back

Ways to give back might include an extra effort to help a new employee find their way around the office or volunteering at a food bank. It can be something as simple as helping a handicapped neighbor do his yard work or something with more responsibility like mentoring a homeless person through your church. In whatever way you choose to give back, kudos to you for doing so because giving back is a win-win in any instance.


6. Remain True to Yourself

remain true to yourself

Authenticity is a word we hear frequently in today’s world. Social media emblazons the internet with people trying to make an impression and get followers. In our workplaces, we want to move up the ladder, and in just about every area of life, we want to look good to others. Moreover, many of us hide our authenticity for fear of reprisal or rejection. However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of your own genuineness or authenticity.

“Existentialists assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue quick fixes to avoid the responsibility of living authentically, eg, quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs, living in fantasies, etc.”Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

When you live out of alignment with your own value system, you will inevitably find yourself in a downward spiral of unhappiness.

Volumes are written about authenticity but here are few simple guidelines to ease you along your path to remain true to yourself:

– Honesty is always the best policy but not at the undue expense of others—use your judgment wisely.

– Learn to speak clearly, and concisely to ensure everyone understands your message.

– Stay in the here-and-now and talk about your own experiences.

– Speak about your experience of others but do not judge and stick to the facts.


7. Avoid Toxic People

Human beings are a powerhouse of energy, so we feel each other’s energy if only on a subconscious level. When you spend your time with lower energy people your energy lowers with them. So, spend your time with those who will build you up with encouragement, not tear you down with disparagement.

No one goes through life without the distress of toxic people in their lives. I sometimes think that if I am ever able to learn to deal with toxic people without harming myself, it will be my greatest accomplishment in life. However, for most of us, dealing with toxic people is best left to the professionals and we need to move away from those types of behaviors that affect us negatively. So, do not engage with toxic people whenever possible. Instead, rise above and walk away.


8. Build Your Resilience


If you can roll with the punches with no anxiety, you have plenty of resiliency. However, for many people, resiliency is a learned skill. So, the goal then becomes to be able to experience harsh emotions yet keep balanced physically and psychologically. But do not confuse resiliency with being tough enough to do it alone. In fact, an especially important part of resiliency is to ask for support from friends, family, or even professionals.

By taking the necessary steps to build resiliency, it helps protect you from depression and anxiety. It also helps ease the pain of past trauma that may be lingering in your being ready to jump out at any time. So, resiliency even helps with an existing mental health condition which makes this tactic a win-win. So, put forth the effort to connect others, care for yourself lovingly, never give up hope, and take a proactive part in learning from each experience. Diligence with these steps will prepare you in advance to find what works for you to increase resiliency in your life.

Reference: Mayo Clinic


9. Live a Healthy Lifestyle


If unhealthy habits have taken over your life, then it is time for you to take inventory of these defeating behaviors. An unhealthy lifestyle will lead only in one direction to a life of illness and despair. Letting go of unhealthy choices is a challenge but when you gradually replace them with better choices, it gets increasingly easier to get happy.

Here are some quick tips that might help you live a more balanced life of health and wellness:

– Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

– Eat more raw vegetables, fresh fruit, and nuts.

– Avoid processed or other unhealthy foods from your diet.

– Eliminate toxic substances from your life such as alcohol or cigarettes.


10. Eliminate Sadness Triggers

emotional eating

Life brings sadness our way at the most unexpected times. Sources of sadness range from the loss of a loved one, you might be newly single, or you may have lost your job. Sometimes simply reading the news fills us with great sadness. Ultimately, if the sadness is too great we might reach for a substance to ease the pain. And, I think we all know that does not end well for most people.

Sadness triggers also include the aftermath of substance use to ease the pain. Because, without exception, the pain will still be there, and it will be even more intense. So, instead of emotional eating or drinking alcohol, be prepared in advance with healthy techniques and tools that will help you through a crisis or emotional struggle.


11. Manage your Mind


Excessive worry sometimes leads to obsessive thinking patterns that make life difficult to navigate. However, a new trend in the world of health and wellness is to manage your mind and get happy.

According to Gillian Butler, who wrote “Managing your mind. The mental fitness guide”, the goal of mind management is to resolve one’s personal and interpersonal challenges at home and work to live a productive, satisfying life.

Here are some helpful tips to help you manage your mind:

– Be brave enough to find your challenges and each day take steps to learn more about the obstacles in your life

– Discover who you are to be able to decide the best values, dreams, and goals for you

– Believe in yourself but be empathetic and compassionate towards others. This helps lessen negative feelings and thoughts

– Believe in your dreams and create a plan of action to follow them through to a successful conclusion

– Continually build newer and better habits that improve your quality of life

Reference: MYM: Counseling | Coaching


12. Learn to Meditate Regularly


Meditation is a technique for training the mind to relax and release toxic thoughts and feelings. By itself, it is not associated or tied to any religion or belief system. However, many belief systems employ the use of mediation as a technique to be able to think and function better in life. Of course, there are a lot of different types and procedures for meditating.

Some basic techniques that may interest you are concentration meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, as well as moving meditation such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation. So, how do you learn to meditate? The ways are as varied as the methods, however an easy to understand explanation is as follows:

“You learn to meditate by meditating. The silence and stillness you experience in meditation and the increased happiness and diminished stress you experience outside meditation are so attractive and welcomed that you naturally teach yourself how to go deeper into that silence and stillness each time you meditate.”
Inner peace Meditation

Meditating is an exceptionally reliable way to get happy when you practice it regularly. So, if you want to lower your blood pressure, improve blood circulation, lower your heart rate, perspire less, experience less anxiety, and get more feelings of well-being, then learn to meditate and make it a part of your daily routine to get the best results.

Reference: Gaiam


13. Spend Time in Nature

nature hiking

Get outside, breath the fresh air, and feel the earth with your bare feet. What a wonderful and easy way to get happy! There are healing qualities in green, clean air. So get out and walk through a forest or go hiking with a friend.

Do you know that phytoncides are the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from rotting and insects and which also help humans? Scientific tests show that people who spend time in a natural setting of forests, parks, or yards with trees, their immune function increases. 

Reference:  New York Times

You do not have to buy expensive equipment to go walking or hiking. Wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes and go to your nearest park for a healthy dose of fresh, clean air in the great outdoors.

Reference:  DaringtoLiveFully


14. Self-Discipline = Self-Love

self discipline productivity

When we grow up, our parents discipline us and guide us (hopefully) to a healthier lifestyle. However, sometimes the discipline is too harsh, so we constantly wait for someone else to tell us what to do. Then when we set out on our own, we have not learned how to self-discipline. This leads to procrastination and insecurities where we find ourselves spinning our proverbial wheels rather than making any positive action to get happy.

If your self-esteem is high enough, self-discipline comes easily and is a direct result of your self-love. So then, the question becomes how to entice yourself into self-discipline. One way is to be aware of the word “self” in “self-discipline.” That means no one is doing it to you or at you, instead, you are doing this for yourself. This is your choice because you love yourself enough to take positive action and participation in the success of your dreams.

To carry out your goals, first make a list, then take steps to schedule your desires into your life in a manageable way. If you want to spend more time with your kids, want a promotion at work, need to lose weight, or whatever you want, love yourself enough to devise a plan of action and discipline yourself to stick to it. When you carry out your goals and even when you are still working towards them, with the satisfaction of being on track, you will naturally get happy!

Reference: Mental Health America and HelpGuide


15. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

We all like our daily comfortable routines that minimize stress and anxiety which naturally makes us feel more secure. So, it is hard to leave that space. But when it feels like you want more out of life, then what do you do? That is when you need to know how to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. You might think that sounds easy but there are scientific reasons why it’s hard to do. Nonetheless, there are good things waiting for you when you break free of your routines or unhealthy behaviors.

In 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson gave this scientific explanation:

“… a state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance. In order to maximize performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety — a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called Optimal Anxiety, and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety and we’re too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.”

Every situation that pulls us out of our comfort zone will make us grow and improve our abilities. You might attend a conference without a companion where you don’t know anybody or simply need to call someone you greatly respect or from whom you need help. These are just a few of the situations where stepping out of your comfort zone will bring positive results in your life.

Reference: LifeHacker and InfoArtBlog 

Written by: Susan K. Daniels of

Hello Love,

I am a mother who is actively working through anxiety and depression by navigating this complex life through love, gratitude, and compassion towards myself and the world around me. Join me on this spiritual growth journey.

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