What is HAPPINESS and how to achieve it? It is a state of being happy and the older I get the more I realise that it’s not so much dependent on how much we have but are we grateful for what we have no matter how little it is? I have a vision board in my bedroom with things I want to achieve this year and on top of the list is “I’m happy no matter the circumstance” because if I can stay happy no matter where life takes me how easy would life be?

I also write at least four things that happened each day in my gratitude journal before I go to sleep to remind myself how lucky I’m to be healthy, to have a job, to have a lovely family, wonderful friends, roof over my head and fresh healthy food. The list goes on and I’m sure you know what I mean. Forbes has a great article that goes deeper into HAPPINESS and how to achieve it. HAPPY READING!

9 Small Steps That Will Make You Happier, Starting Now

Try all 9 if you’re ambitious.

By Nancy F. Clark

Starting out in rocket science and computer programming, if you would have told me then that here’s a science to happiness I would have laughed. And actually that would have made me a little happier (see #7). Today there’s solid research on techniques that can increase your happiness and fulfillment in life.

I’m going to give you 9 easy techniques to do. If you’re really busy, try 5 of them. If you’re a competitive high achiever—and probably very busy—go ahead and try all 9 of them.

1) Use Your Happiness Autopilot

Researchers at Duke have found that more than 40% of your daily actions are autopilot habits that don’t use up your decision making brain power. So let’s tack a little add-on to one of those ingrained habits.

Here are 3 ideas.

  • When you put toothpaste on your toothbrush, think of 1 thing that makes you feel grateful.
  • Or when you wake up in the morning, glance at a photo that makes you feel happy.
  • Or at night, do what Christine Carter of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Center says, “After I put my head on the pillow, I will think of one good thing from my day.”

What will you choose to add to your autopilot?

2) Good Enough Instead of Perfect

3) Do What You Love

Don’t say, “When I retire, I’ll do what I love.” Instead, plan on spending some time doing things you love, even if it’s as a hobby. Decide when you can devote a little time on a regular basis. Or, is a career change needed?

4) How To Choose Your Friends

Researchers at Harvard say choosing your friends wisely is one of the most important factors related to happiness. Do you have some friends who sap your energy when you’re around them? Perhaps they’re frequently complaining and reminding you of negative events? Zap these people from your new friend list and replace them with optimistic people who make you feel energized when you spend time with them. And besides spending time with them, spend money with them also (see #5).

5) Where Should You Spend Your Money?

Michael Norton, Harvard Professor and co-author of Happy Money, says purchasing material items like televisions, clothes, and coffee machines won’t make you happier overall. People are wired to become happier with social connections, so spending your money on experiences with friends will give you the biggest happiness boost. So my advice is, “Spend your money on concert tickets or on a yoga retreat with a friend and enjoy the happiness surge.

6) Cultivate Flow

The author of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says when you find an activity that you enjoy, one that challenges you, and increases your skill, you’ll find yourself fully engaged in it. You’ll be in a flow state. This means you’ll be concentrating on the present and may even lose your sense of time. This feels good and contributes to your well-being and happiness. 

Combat stress with laughter.

7) Enjoy The Funny Side

When we crack a smile—a genuine eye crinkle that researchers call a “Duchenne smile”—our cardiovascular system calms. Laughing takes it one step further partly because it forces us to exhale. Simply exhaling lowers our heart rate and induces feelings of calm.

Smiling releases endorphins, which combat stress hormones. My advice is, “You should practice smiling right now, even if you feel foolish. You’re canceling some of the stress cortisol and you’re increasing your happiness—a double bonus.”

8) Reframe Obstacles

No one gets through life without encountering obstacles. Each time one pops up, try to reframe it as a challenge that you can handle. If you need support, think of a time when you surmounted your fear and successfully took action. Be a problem solver. My advice is, “Say ‘How can I fix this?’ Questioning opens the creative parts of your brain and you may come up with more than one solution.”

9) Random Acts Of Kindness

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has shown that practicing acts of kindness gives people a happiness boost. In addition, the recipient becomes happier and this even extends to people who merely observe the act. These acts don’t need to be anonymous, as her research shows. The observers often want to pay it forward.

So please add more acts of kindness to your week and help make the world a happier place.

I’m Nancy F. Clark, author of The Positive Journal, and curator of Forbes WomensMedia. My team helps businesswomen succeed and live happier and more fulfilling lives.