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10 Fool-proof tips to becoming a happier person

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

Enjoying the Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is different for everyone. But do you really need to wait until you land your dream job, start a family or get out of debt to become a happier person? Here are 10 fool-proof tips to help you become a happier person today.
Dee MArshall

1

Be intentional
(Make life happen)

Certified life coach, author and motivational speaker Dee Marshall says that two common stumbling blocks that hinder happiness are depending too much on external things and existing in life rather than living.

“We give away control of our happiness and too much power to external things — whether we have a husband, boyfriend, a job or material things. Even when we are upset or frustrated, we have the ability to choose. It's a decision to be happy," says Marshall. "Existing means you're here. Living means you're here and evolving. We've become passive, and we are allowing life to unfold instead of making life happen."

2

Take control of your wheel
(Who’s driving your car?)

Marshall says that people often live their lives in the position of being carjacked, meaning they're allowing other people to dictate and determine their happiness. She encourages women to take control of their happiness on a daily basis by becoming the driver.

“We need to get out of the passenger seat and move to the driver seat and make a decision. Our happiness is depending on who is carjacking us. We take control by driving the car in the direction we want to go.”

3

Keep out negativity
(I’ll take my glass half full, please)

Energy is contagious, and there's nothing like a Debbie Downer sharing her pessimistic 2 cents to ruin a good day or worsen a rough one. Whether it’s a co-worker, associate, friend or even a family member, choose to remain positive and limit your conversations when others start to unload their negativity. More importantly, remember to avoid negative internal dialogue. While you can excuse yourself from negative people, you can’t walk away from yourself, so start turning your “I can’t” into “I can."

4

Count your blessings
(Heart of gratitude)

Marshall recommends writing down five things you are grateful for at the end of the day, and she encourages people to start their day with a "gratitude walk."

“It's a way to be a happier person. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you want to put your right foot down and say 'thank' and your left foot down and say 'you.' When you start with the gratitude walk, your mind starts to identify what you should be grateful for," says Marshall. "Every time you step into a place, school, job, grocery store, etc., think about that one thing you are most grateful for at that moment."

5

Don't take yourself too seriously
(Let your hair down) 

So you made a mistake at work or embarrassed yourself on a date. Instead of dwelling on it, give yourself a pass when you make mistakes; take it as a lesson learned and move on. Learning to laugh at yourself in awkward or "oops" moments can make you more resilient. Research shows that laughter has health benefits, and smiling, even when you don't want to, can help to improve your mood. Besides, it's hard to be down when you're laughing.

6

Believe in yourself
(Even when others don't) 

People who have low self-esteem can struggle with being happy with their lives. Though having confidence doesn't mean that every day will be great, it does mean that you choose to believe in yourself no matter what your circumstances are or what other people say. Believing in yourself allows you to dream big and go hard after what you desire. And knowing that you are more than capable of accomplishing your goals can boost your happiness.

7

Tune in spiritually
(Connect to your core)

Whether it's prayer, meditation, nature or attending church, people have their own definitions of spiritual wellness. Marshall points out that being spiritually connected can produce a lasting happiness.

"Go deeper in your faith, whatever you believe. It allows you to shift from happiness to joy. Happy is based on external things while joy is a deeper place you get to by the way of your belief and faith. Tap into what you believe, your core, your foundation, and you should find something there that gives you joy to override external things," says Marshall.

8

Take care of you
(Make yourself a priority)

Sure, you enjoy taking care of others, but making time to exercise, eat well, get rest and engage in your hobbies are important to your overall happiness. And remember, exercise is often linked to happiness because it releases brain chemicals to boost your mood and alleviate stress.

“Self-care is a form of loving and embracing ourselves, so it contributes to our overall happiness. It increases our value and self-worth. Whether it's pampering or exercising, those are activities to become better and live greater," says Marshall.

9

Know when to let go
(Drop dead weight) 

People, things or situations that drain your energy can immediately impact your happiness. Whether it's a job or unhealthy relationship, make a decision to cut ties and move on. This also includes dwelling on past failures and disappointments. It's difficult to be happy while lugging around dead weight. So if you're still thinking about what the ex did five years ago or a past regret, make a decision to forgive and move on.

10

Reach out to others
(Pay it forward)

Whether you buy someone's coffee in drive-thru, volunteer at a shelter or give someone a genuine compliment, being kind to others can immediately lift your spirits. Challenge yourself to do something nice for someone on a regular basis, whether it's a friend or a random stranger.

Dee Marshall's three-step formula to improve your happiness on a daily basis: 

  1. Ask yourself this question every day: What will make me happy today (not tomorrow)?
  2. Plan and be intentional.
  3. Take action. Take one step toward living an ideal day. If the idea is out of reach (e.g., due to limited funds), then take one action today to take you one step closer to creating your happiness.

Check out the hit feel-good song known to be an instant mood booster and for making people feel "happy."

More on happiness

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How to magnify your happiness at home and in life
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