How to be happy

Mindapples doesn’t write much about happiness (there are plenty of fine organisations around doing that); instead we focus on mental health, feeling at home in your head, and accepting whatever feelings you have.

Wanting to be happier is a perfectly good goal though, and most of the things positive psychologists and happiness campaigners advocate can be a part of a mentally healthy lifestyle. In our latest book, The Mind Manual, we even featured a whole chapter on ‘How to be happy’, reviewing the psychology of happiness and how to apply it to our lives.

One of the best resources we found was that the British Psychological Society has compiled a ‘guide to happiness’, filled with experimentally-validated tips for being happier. It’s always a little strange to read scientific guides to things that are as subjective and philosophically complex as ‘happiness’ – after all, the pursuit of happiness is more than simple biochemistry – but there are some interesting findings in the piece.

Please do read it for yourself if you have time, but here are a few of our favourites:

  • We’re happier when we’re busy. Although our natural inclination might be to chill out, finding things you love doing is a great recipe for a happy life.
  • Sharing good news helps. Be careful not to brag or make other people feel bad by comparison, but finding people to share your joys makes the joys sweeter.
  • Don’t imagine everyone else is happy. Looking around the world, and particularly the internet, it can feel like everyone else has it made – but in fact they probably feel just as up-and-down as you do.
  • Little and often is the best way. Small, frequent daily mood boosters – mindapples, if you like – help more than big life changes or audacious goals.
  • We’re resilient to happiness – but also unhappiness. The same things that make it hard to stay permanently cheerful also make it hard to stay permanently sad.

Happiness means different things to everyone though, so don’t aspire to feel “the right way”. Instead, notice the times when you feel good, think about what you’re doing in those times, and try to do a bit more of them. Happiness isn’t an end-state to be reached; it’s a habit to be practiced.

Learn more about how to be happy and healthy in our illustrated guides to the mind, The Mind Manual and A Mind for Business, published by Hamlyn Press and Pearson/FT.