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Stop Trying to Be Happy

by Beth on October 7th, 2015

We are obsessed with being happy. I just googled “how to be happy” and got 613,000,000 results. I admit that I share plenty of articles about happiness on social media and I’ve written a book about it. I’m all for being happy, but the problem is that people who set a goal to be happy are actually less happy.

Bad things happen and when they do you won’t be happy. That’s OK. It is important to experience a wide range of emotions. Negative emotions are necessary and healthy. When things aren’t going your way you should feel sad or anxious or angry. But if your goal is to be happy, then you often feel even worse when you have a bad day because you are failing to achieve your goal.

The way to be happy is to do things that increase your positive emotions. Focusing on specific activities that make you happy is a lot better than focusing on achieving happiness itself. Your goal should be to have as many positive experiences as you can.

Below are some things you can do to increase your positive emotions. Pick a few of these and make them, not happiness, your goal.

  • Keep a gratitude journal where you write down things for which you are thankful.
  • Choose something meaningful that you’d like to accomplish and schedule time on your calendar to work on it.
  • Volunteer to do something that makes a positive difference in someone’s life.
  • Make time to exercise each day.
  • Plan a trip to visit family or friends.
  • Sign up for a class to learn something new, like knitting or fly fishing or photography.
  • Get enough sleep.

Don’t obsess over whether or not you are happy. Trying to be happy can make you unhappy. Instead, behave in ways that promote positive emotions and happiness will come.

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