General Question

jabag11's avatar

How can I be happier?

Asked by jabag11 (670 points ) December 22nd, 2010

I’m a 19 year old boy. I work every day on my lap top because I am working to achieve a goal. These days I am just not happy, yet I am not depressed either. I have a nice family, it’s nothing bad like, nothing “deep” is bothering me is what I’m saying. Life is just dull right now because I must keep disciplined to not hang out with my friends so much. I have plenty of friends, a nice house, am healthy and all that, like i said I am not depressed or anything of the sort.¬†And please don’t tell me “you should hang out with your friends more often and Let loose”, please don’t tell me that because it won’t happen. (not to sound rude)
So, my question to you all is what are some things I can do to be happier on the daily? (I don’t smoke or drink or anything, and I won’t.)
Tell me what you think I could do and maybe should do, and then tell me what YOU do to be happier on the daily. I know there are little mechanical things throughout the day that you do that make you happier, like for instance making sure you have that ‘nice warm coffee’ in the morning, or making sure you ‘watch your show’ at night. Or maybe it’s about perspective? Anything and everything, so again what you think I can do to be happier in general and what you yourself doe very day to keep happy.
Anyways all inputs are greatly appreciated! thank you!

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36 Answers

cyn's avatar

Go outside to the park or something. Go out running, perhaps?

diavolobella's avatar

It speaks well of you that you want to be happy. Happiness is in large part a choice that you make and good for you for choosing it. Don’t discount the small things in life like warm coffee. While there are bigger events in life that will bring you a lot of concentrated happiness all at once, those small pleasurable moments of your day are the ones that really add up. Although you are busy, take a little extra time to enjoy your nice family and your friends. Think about the things you like about them, notice those things more and reflect on your good fortune in having them, really reflect and enjoy them in the moment, rather than just mentally acknowledging them like items on a list. The last thing I’d suggest is taking time to do nice things for other people. There is nothing that brings me more happiness than doing things for others. It can be as small as wishing someone a nice day, helping a stranger by holding the door when they are struggling with carrying something or as large as volunteering to help the ill, elderly or needy. Helping other people achieve happiness is the best way to increase yours.

Oh, and hang out here with your fellow Jellies. I get a lot of happiness from the camaraderie here.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I enjoy going to bed early and waking up early. Everything is so quiet. I feel I have a jump on the day and can accomplish a lot – whatever you need to do.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m reading The Happiness Project right now. Yeah, there’s a little bit of self-help about it – but it’s cool in the manner that it shows how happiness is something that you can objectively work to improve.

stratman37's avatar

@cyn , yeah, get out and soak up some vitamin D. You’ll be surprised what a little physical activity can do for your seritonin levels!

marinelife's avatar

Take a moment in your day to give thanks for the good things in your life. (Some you listed in your details section). When you “count your blessings” it can change your perspective.

Also, make room in your day for some exercise—even a half hour is good. A brisk walk or weight lifting or running or biking. That will raise your endorphins level and increase your happiness.

Would it hurt you to make time for your friends say once a week? I think the trade off would be worth it. It could even increase your productivity.

Coloma's avatar

Happiness is not a constant. It is moments, and contentment is as close to permanent happiness as one can get.

Maybe some of your unhappiness is coming from working TOO MUCH!

Get outside, commune with nature, exercise, do something different…mix it up, reach and risk and don’t buy into the illusion that happiness is a permanent condition.

Everything is of a temporary condition, could just be that you need to move more and get that dopamine flowing. ;-)

Kardamom's avatar

Why are you not allowing yourself to spend time with friends?

Everyone has to work, and I realize that you probably have to study, but if you deny yourself a balanced life (which involves friends and other social activities) you will end up lonely and miserable. Life has to have balance.

auntydeb's avatar

Maybe you could do a little something for someone else? If you have time that you could spend, say visiting people in hospital, doing a bit of voluntary play work, or providing some expertise that you have to someone who doesn’t? This sort of activity is very gratifying, it gives one a chance to feel fortunate in what one has. Happiness is very much a choice, @iamthemob is reading the Happiness Project – you could try that too.

Above all, practice gratitude – you have a nice life and all that you need in it – just looking about you and whispering ‘thank you’ out loud actually gives a pleasurable feeling. @Coloma has a point and @stratman37, do get out of the house. Your project will actually benefit if you are refreshed and stimulated… Learn to enjoy yourself more!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Man, no wonder you’re not happy! Did anyone tell you that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? Forget about doing something for others – you need to do something for yourself. Like maybe go fishing or go on vacation or something.

bkcunningham's avatar

First thing every morning start the day by repeating, outloud, to yourself, “Today is going to be a good day. I am going to be happy.” You can change the words to make your own sort of mantra. “I’m going to be happy today.” Whatever feels right. Say it over and over and actually visualize an image of yourself happy. Even if you have to force yourself at first. Say it outloud until you feel it take control of your spirit.

mckinn's avatar

Two cheap tricks that I use…
1) I whistle. People claim that I must be happy to whistle so much. For me it works the other way – whistling makes me happy more than happiness makes me whistle
2) I Laugh at things. Whenever I can. As loud as I can. You have to he ready to respond with a laugh, but if you can, it helps. And there’s lots to laugh at if you’re ready.

Coloma's avatar

@mckinn

Very good!

I just watched ‘The Wedding Crashers’ again last night after a few years. OMG!

I laughed so hard I almost wet the couch! lol
Humor and laughter ARE the best medicine, and, it has been proven that a well developed sense of humor denotes a pretty well adjusted psyche. ’-)

flutherother's avatar

I am curious about the goal you are trying to achieve. Usually working towards a goal keeps you happy or at least keeps you busy so you don’t think about being happy. You could try getting out more and I mean getting out of yourself. Look at life for a moment through the eyes of those you live with and forget about yourself. Try and imagine if there is some little thing you could do, a word or a touch that might make them happy. That might work.

Being quite a bit older now I get quite a lot of happiness now from my regular daily routine, but this would not have made me happy when I was 19.

bpclaura's avatar

Thank you for your question. I have three suggestions:
1. Gratitude is the quickest way to happiness. Throw your gratitude into the universe throughout the day.
2. Be helpful to someone else. That will do the trick.
3. Remember that how you feel right now is not permanent. All things evolve. This too shall pass.
4. BONUS: Just add water. Drink it, swim in it, take a shower or a bath.

tinyfaery's avatar

Stop expecting to be happy all the time. Then when you are happy, relish it.

Taking a day off every once in awhile is not going to kill you. You’d be surprised how much happier you can be when you are able to meet all of your emotional needs.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Happiness is one of those things that you can’t find if you look for it. It’s sort of like looking for something in the dark. Have you ever tried to find something in extreme low light? I don’t mean pitch dark, I mean where you can “barely” see at night without artificial light, for example. If you look right at something then you won’t see it. But if you look ‘away from’ that thing, or if you don’t try to focus right in front of you, then your eyes’ peripheral vision will enable you to view what is on the margins of your vision – at least until you turn your head and try to focus on it. (I’m not about to get into the mechanics of why that is, but it is a fact that you can use to advantage.)

Happiness is the same way. If you “try to be happy”, then you most likely won’t manage it. But if you know the things that you can do that make you happy (surprisingly, many people seem not to) and can avoid the things that will make you unhappy (which are the very things that many people think will make them happy, such as the drinking and smoking that you mentioned, as well as drugs and promiscuous sex, to name some others) then you might find that (as long as you don’t concentrate too hard on it) you’re really ‘not unhappy’. Then you just need to muster the attitude adjustment necessary to convert ‘being not unhappy’ to ‘being happy’, and you’re there.

Believe it or not, the things that you mentioned, such as friends, a comfortable house, plenty of good food and even good health won’t necessarily make you happy. They might make you comfortable, and set up conditions that make it easier to attain happiness, but plenty of people without any of those things can be happy.

I once read a definition of happiness that said it was “overcoming not-unknown obstacles in pursuit of a known goal”. That makes some sense to me. If you have a goal and can persevere against the obstacles that you know about between you and that goal, then you’ll be happy. No goal? Unknown obstacles? Then you’d better change those conditions. And change your goal from “trying to be happy” to something else, and let happiness be a byproduct.

Coloma's avatar

@CyanoticWasp

Your stingers sharp today…very nicely put!

jabag11's avatar

Thank you so much everyone, great answers really, and yes i exercise every day and honestly am not exactly looking for happiness since I’m too side tracked with this work that I put myself up to, that I must and will do no matter what. It’s a goal of, finding myself you could say, and takes a lot of work every day, a lot of alone time that I think is necessary. And I was just hoping there were some every day things I could do that would up my mood.

But to me it’s like time is one of the most priceless things there is and I refuse to waste it, hanging out with friends once a week keeps me happy for that moment, but when i go back to my daily schedule, It’s all the same you know. Just because I hung out with them “yesterday”, does not mean I’ll feel a little better “today”. So yea, but great answers, and more inputs would be appreciated. thanks again !

maraestrada's avatar

Hello! I just join Fluther.I join just to asnwer your Q’ because it was so interesting for me! I just want to share with you how i am the happiest person in the world (lol..) !! You know what? Sometimes we feel that to be happy is difficult.That having everything we want makes us happy, but there is not the answer not.. Happiness is not there. Happiness is not material nor actions, actually having everything makes life harder.
I am an international Student in America, and when i first came here, OMG! it was not cool… i was not depressed or sad (like you said) , but seriously, i didn’t find my self that happy.
Jesus came to my heart and He just makes me happy! HE just do it i dont know how to explain it. And now i want to be like him. Helping other people, doing what Jesus wants me to do and serving, just being useful! Praying, talking with him, makes my relationship with him just grow and grow more and more!!! and MORE~! PLEASEE WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT MORE, how is your feeling now??? I hope you are happy now, Love you!

bkcunningham's avatar

@maraestrada very good! Welcome to America! I’m glad you found Jesus. That is really wonderful.

Kardamom's avatar

@jabag11 Would you be able to give us an idea of what kind of pursuit you are involved in that makes it necessary for you to be alone so much of the time?

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Listen to your happy music. Not necessarily happy music but music that makes you happy.
Find small reasons to smile. No clue why but smiling can actually make you happier.
Get some physical exercise. Run on the treadmill while you work on your lap top.
And I know that you said to not say this but I am any way. You should go see your friends more. Maybe schedule a day or 2 for just hanging out with them.

jabag11's avatar

Well I need to be alone for the most part because the goal I am pursuing is me. Truly finding out who I am, and to do that I must do it on my own, by myself for now, solitude, no influences with other people, also to work on this I would have to be alone, I know its possible to work with other but in this situation, finding yourself, one should do that alone, having all focus on him or herself. and that’s why I need to be alone/

as for being happy, yea I was just taking about small mechanical stuff that would make one happy but wouldn’t be detrimental to my goal ultimately.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@jabag11 with respect, no one ever “found out who he was” from contemplating his navel. You have to do something to find that out. You could pull a Thoreau and go off in the woods and contemplate “nature” (not your navel) and find out something about yourself from what you see outside of yourself. You could pull a Mother Theresa and work for others if that’s what moves you. But sitting in solitude and thinking “with all focus on [oneself]” ... is just going to make you a tiresome narcissist.

Really. Even partying with friends is a better way of finding yourself. It’s not the way I’d recommend, but it seems to be a more likely path than the one you’re on.

bkcunningham's avatar

@CyanoticWasp with all due respect, I had to chuckle to myself to see you using Thoreau as an example and advise to not contemplate within yourself to discover yourself.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@bkcunningham I fully comprehend the apparent irony, but Thoreau didn’t just ‘concentrate on himself’ from within a comfortable house with three squares a day (provided by others) and ‘try to be happy’ as an angst-ridden teenager. (Not that he didn’t have any angst.)

Doing what Thoreau did is in no way comparable to sitting in one’s bedroom (with or without a stereo and/or iPod, and a computer, obviously) and brooding about life.

bkcunningham's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I know. I appreciate your advise to @jabag11. I just thought it was funny.

YARNLADY's avatar

In my opinion, happy is something you can choose to feel. You don’t get is from something that makes you happy, you either choose to be happy or you don’t.

I have discovered there are some people who cannot just choose to have feelings they want, because of chemical malfunctions, so my advice is just for the rest of us, who do not have any medical issues that interfere.

diavolobella's avatar

@jabag11 I really think that finding out who you are cannot be done on your own nor is it meant to be. That is something that requires interaction with other people because if you only view yourself through your own eyes, you are incapable of seeing who you are, especially those parts of yourself that are imperfect. No one is so self aware that they can honestly do that. You will find many times in life that other people’s perceptions of you will be surprising, enlightening and true. Our interactions with the world will shape who we are and what we become. That’s the way life is meant to be because if you isolate yourself to find out who you are, you never grow or change. No one lives in a vacuum. It sounds like you are taking yourself a little too seriously, which at your age (I don’t mean to sound patronizing when I say that either, but I’m old enough to be your mom) isn’t unusual. Don’t be so heavy handed with yourself. Live less in your own head and you will be a lot happier. You’ll learn who you are by living life instead of contemplating it.

Kardamom's avatar

@jabag11 Gracious, no wonder you’re unhappy. I agree with @CyanoticWasp that no good will come of trying to “find yourself” (whatever that means) by yourself. People live in a world with other people. If you shut them out and try to find yourself, when you come back out (if ever) there won’t be anyone there. Real life is about living in the real world, where people are and forging strong relationships with people who can give you love and companionship. If you shut people out of your world, you will be come lonely and people will definitley think that you are a narcicisst and not want to be around you. I think it’s time for you to re-consider your so-called “search for self” and either start living in the real world or possibly get some therapy. A good therapist can work wonders. It sounds like you are suffering from depression. That is something that cannot be fixed or helped by shutting yourself off from people, it just makes it worse.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I guess I’m not sure why your are unhappy to begin with. Maybe if I knew that, I could be of more help. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but people don’t “find themselves.” They think of what kind of person they would like to be, and then do their best to become that person. People reinvent themselves, maybe several times in a lifetime. If you are looking to see what is inside of you, well, there’s nothing there until you put it there.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
dabbler's avatar

good hunch ref perspective.
Those things that are going well you mention are substantial. If you’re not feeling gratitude for each of them take a look at why not. You’re either not really that happy with those – and it’s ok esp at your time in life to think what could be different and consider change – or you got used to it.
And despite what marketing all around us is designed to make us constantly feel, it is ok to be content. If you find yourself on an unconscious craving and discontent remember that stuff gets to us all.
Consider getting a craft hobby that requires concentration on a skill to get your mind off our culturally programmed discontent.

SamIAm's avatar

I have two 13 y/o cats who I love dearly. They make me really happy, all the time, without fail.

But I’m also reading this book called The Mood Cure. I have an awesome doctor (MD but I see her for something called Mind/Body – it’s like a type of therapy) and she has me on a pretty strict amino acid regime. This book explains the aminos and how nutrition plays a HUGE part in how you feel. It focuses on what the author calls ‘false moods’ and how to prevent them. You should check it out! http://www.moodcure.com/

Also, I make sure that I have some things planned for the near future. I’ve ALWAYS got a set of concert tickets on hand and have been signing up for (free or inexpensive) classes – tomorrow is sewing basics, next week is how to ride a bike (lecture on riding legally in the city). I also like to spend time, mostly around birthdays and the holidays, and focus on my friends and family. A lot of times, for me, this means diving deep into a project where I’m making them something special (this year it was handmade Christmas stockings filled with little gifts). It keeps me going.

But seriously, about my cats. You should get a pet if you can.

Kardamom's avatar

@SamIAm If I could give you a thousand lurve for your answer I would! I love cats and my hobbies (with a passion) and family get togethers.

I also love cooking and figuring out ways to help my neighbors and friends.

Sometimes you just gotta do stuff, any stuff, but make that stuff matter.

Make the “stuff” matter to yourself or to your friends or your loved ones. Do stuff, small stuff, that makes a difference to someone else. And then just do small things that seem interesting or cool or potentially fun, for yourself. Don’t assume that everything is going to be a Blockbuster moment.

Savor the small things, and as me and my brother like to say, “Welcome to the Theater of the Easily Amused.” Where we enjoy such things as silly jokes, funny contests to find the ugliest outfit at the county fair, the scent and sound of oak leaves crackling beneath our feet in a park, the cold crisp winter air, a fantastic breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, beans and home fried potatoes and salsa, a beautiful windchime that sounds like the capiz shell windchimes of our youth (in the 60’s) the color of the inside of a ruby red grapefruit, the sound of a kitty cat purring, the sight of a toddler walking unsteadily with bowed legs, the flavor of a pungent aged cheese.

Find joy in the small things. Don’t look for, or expect, gigantic, earth shattering, mind blowing extravaganzas, or you will constantly find yourself disappointed. Instead, look for and try to appreciate all of the simple and small things that happen to you, and are all around you on a daily basis.

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