10 Steps to Happiness


Graphic by Cassie Jeong

By Jasmine Caputo

The pursuit of happiness is something that should be in everyone’s daily schedule. Learning optimism and perspective is one of the greatest lessons that anyone can be taught, but for some people it may be more difficult. Happiness can be a decision and a mindset.

1. Understand that memories make you happier than purchases.

You feel excitement when you make money or buy something new, but that excitement soon fades. The possession has now simply become part of your routine. Compare that to an amazing experience or memory you had, whether it be a trip or when you and your best friend couldn’t stop laughing. The happiness from recalling great memories continues to repeat itself.

2. Cut negative people out of your life.

If someone in your life consistently causes you more stress than joy, then they are holding you back from reaching your potential happiness. These “toxic” friends can be people that you are close to, making it more difficult to break away from them because of your strong bond. I encourage you to closely evaluate these relationships; friends should make you happier, not ruin your day. While it may be daunting to do, it will be worth it in the long run.

3. Open up to people.

Talking to someone is the best way to address your problems head on. Whether you’re talking to a friend, counselor or therapist, having someone to listen and respond to your problems is the best way to find a solution. While it may be difficult to open up to someone, identify one person that you trust and whose opinion you value so you can gradually begin to sort through your problems. Having someone that understands your problems will take a huge weight off of you so you don’t feel as alone.

4. Refrain from useless complaining.

While it is helpful to talk to someone about your problems, making small complaints to fill conversation is not. Even saying things like “I hate how cold it is today” allows your mind to focus on useless negative thoughts. Finding the silver lining in things is much more constructive toward your overall happiness. Train your mind to be optimistic. By expressing pointless complaints, you are also sending a negative energy toward the people you are talking to; no one wants to be the person that is “always complaining.”

5. Re-evaluate your social media.

If you are the kind of person that is constantly feeling bad when comparing yourself to others, then you might want to consider cutting down or eliminating your social media usage. Social media can make it seem like everyone else is happier than you. In reality, these other people are most likely struggling with the same anxieties as you are. If this is a problem for you, end the cycle by adjusting the time you spend on social media.

Graphic by Cassie Jeong
Graphic by Cassie Jeong

6. Invest in your passions and guilty pleasures.

The quickest way to make yourself happy is by doing things you enjoy doing. You only have so much time in your day, and when it is not being spent at school, it should be put towards your passions. Rather than doing what other people think you should be doing, focus on what interests you. For example, if you hate ballet and would rather play soccer, don’t let other people’s expectations stand in the way of doing what you truly want to. In the end, you’ll be happier.

7. Let go of the past.

The best way to put things behind you is to accept what happened and move on. Don’t waste your energy holding grudges because in the end, they will hurt you more than they hurt the other person. Learn to cherish your past and view them as learning experiences rather than mistakes.

8. Express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude is effective for two reasons: it forces you to verbalize what you are grateful for and it makes another person happy who is receiving your gratitude. Dr. Robert A. Emmons conducted an experiment for his book “Thanks!” and concluded that expressing gratitude can improve your happiness by 25 percent. By simply expressing gratitude toward someone, you can increase your own happiness, as well as theirs.

9. Be yourself, no matter what anyone says.

Once you learn to end the inner struggle of wanting to act as yourself but not wanting to be judged, you will find peace. You will find the people who appreciate you for being yourself and you will be continually rewarded. The energy you put toward avoiding judgement will be spent on enjoying yourself and the people around you.

10. Accept reality.

Dwelling on the past or the inevitable is pointless because neither of them are controllable. Rather than trying to fight or avoid it, accepting reality might eliminate whatever fear and anxiety you might be facing. Once you are able to do that, you will be able to focus your energy toward positive things and come to peace with the way things are supposed to be. ♦