8 Thoughts to Help You Be Happy

Science-based ways to think happier thoughts.

Posted Jan 21, 2021 |

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay
Source: Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

There are three primary ways to be happier—changing your thoughts, changing your behaviors, and changing your circumstances. Research has likely focused most on changing your thoughts. It has now highlighted a number of ways to change your thoughts to increase happiness. So, we'll focus on the thoughts, or thinking styles, that can help you to be happier. If you want to learn more about your current level of happiness & well-being, consider taking the well-being quiz to start.

1. I Accept the Things I Cannot Change

Acceptance is linked to positive well-being. To be more accepting, you might try mindfulness, which includes acceptance as well as awareness. By being more accepting, we don't let the random stuff that comes up in life affect us so much and so it is easier to be happy.

2. I Am Worth It

Our feelings of self-worth tend to be one of the factors most closely linked to happiness. That's why working on this thought is so helpful for happiness. To cultivate self-worth, it can be helpful to develop self-compassion, self-confidence, and self-love. Here is a self-compassion exercise to get you started. 

3. I Am Grateful for the Things and People I Have in My Life

Gratitude is linked to all sorts of positive outcomes including better mood. So shifting your thoughts to have an attitude of gratitude can really help with happiness. One of the most popular ways to develop gratitude is with a gratitude journal. (Here are some great gratitude journals.)

4. I Know and Am Working Toward My Goals

Setting goals and working towards them can help us feel a greater sense of autonomy. We are choosing how we live our lives and deciding where we want to go. But setting goals can also help us experience more meaning in life because we usually pursue goals that we care about. So remember to think about the goals you have and keep in mind the ways that you are working towards them.

5. I Believe in Myself

If we believe in ourselves, and expect positive outcomes for ourselves, expectation theory would suggest that we are actually more likely to get whatever it is that we expect. This holds true for both positive and negative expectations. So be careful about negativity. Whatever negative outcomes you expect can end up coming true too.

6. I Am Open to Whatever Comes My Way

The more open and flexible we are, the less upset we get when things don't go our way. We can hopefully stop ruminating about the bad things in the past or worrying about the troubling possibilities of the future. So try to build the mindset that maintains thoughts of openness and adaptability.

7. I Can Change How Happy I Am

The truth is we actually have a lot of sway over how happy we are. Not 100%—the things that happen to us and the environment we live in have an effect on our happiness too. But, because so much of happiness has to do with shifting our thoughts and behaviors, we have more control over happiness than we might think. That's why it's important to keep in mind that we can change how happy we are. It just takes time, effort, and dedication.

8. I Won't Give Up

Life can be tough sometimes. There are no skeleton keys or secret passageways to getting the life we want. It takes work. Luckily, if we know what to do to be happy, it's easier to keep going and not give up. That's why this happy thought is so important. We have to remind ourselves during the tough times that we won't give up so that we can get back to good times. 

Created with content from The Berkeley Well-Being Institute.

References

Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 31(5), 431-451.

Kaczmarek, L. D., Kashdan, T. B., Drążkowski, D., Enko, J., Kosakowski, M., Szäefer, A., & Bujacz, A. (2015). Why do people prefer gratitude journaling over gratitude letters? The influence of individual differences in motivation and personality on web-based interventions. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 1-6.