3 Things You Can Do Today to Start Living a Happier Life

by Henrik Edberg

Image by nicolas_gent (license).

.“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness must not always come from big things and events. It can come from smaller, daily habits too.

So today I’d simply like to take a look at 3 quick tips and habits that help me to live a happier life. Pick one and see how it works for you.

Help someone.

Helping someone out is one of simplest but also one of the most powerful things one can do to live a happy life.

How can you help someone out? By giving them value in some form. Such forms could be:

  • Offering some practical help. With for example work, moving houses or cooking dinner.
  • Giving some good advice. People may not always want advice but if they ask then give your best advice based on your experience.
  • Being understanding instead judgmental. Two questions that can help with that are: What parts of this person can I see in myself? How is he or she like me?
  • Hugs. The comfort of one hug or more can make the other person’s situation at least a bit better.
  • Encourage someone. There is much discouragement in the world. So instead, be an exception and encourage people to believe in themselves and what they want to do.
  • Just listen. Sometimes people don’t want any help. They just want to vent or for someone to listen as they figure out things and release pent up emotions. It may not seem like much but it can be an immense help for someone who needs it. So be there fully – don’t sit there thinking about something else – and listen.
  • Put things into perspective. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a problem and to make a mountain out of a molehill. But you can help out by adding your perspective. The two of you can talk about it, perhaps laugh about it and even find the hidden opportunity within the problem that in one person’s head may have almost seemed like the sky was falling.

And remember to pat yourself on the back and appreciate yourself for helping someone out. Do not brush it off or make it smaller than it is. Pause and take a moment to quietly reflect on how you did something good.

Have a low bar for happiness.

This is something I have experimented with lately.

I tell myself this when I wake up in the morning: “Have a low bar for happiness today.”

As I tell myself this and try to keep it in mind during the day I appreciate things more. The food, my work, the weather, the small events of the day becoms not everyday stuff but something I feel happy to have. The small or what may be something one takes for granted becomes something I now often pause for a moment or two to take in and appreciate.

But if I become happier in my everyday life for the smaller things does that mean that I become unmotivated to keep working towards the bigger things?

Not in my experience so far.

This way of looking at my life instead fuels me with more energy and inspiration, life becomes lighter and I feel less inner resistance as I explore and work towards both small and bigger things.

I recommend giving this one a try and see how it works for you. You’ll of course forget about this low bar for happiness from time to time during the day if you are like me. That is only natural and this still makes a big difference in my day.

Be kind to yourself.

Being kind to yourself is a wonderful things to live a happier life and a life with high self-esteem. There are many way to be kinder to yourself, but here are three good ones that I often use and have found to be powerful.

1. Change your input to things that are kind and constructive.

Destructive messages from the people around you or from people further away such as media, advertising and society in general does not help you to be kind to yourself. So, bit by bit, replace them with other daily and weekly input.

It could be the encouragement of friends and family and the help from someone close who has been in a situation that you are in now. It could be practical personal development books and blogs that help you out with real solutions to the challenges you face and the goals you want to achieve. It could be spending more time in nature and in silence to relax and recharge yourself.

2. Compare yourself with yourself.

Comparing what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished can really kill your motivation and keep your self-esteem at a low level. There are always people ahead of you.

So focus on you. On your results. And how you can and have improved your results. This is important because it’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come.

3. Give yourself a break.

I sometimes hear that you should always be positive or always be winning or working towards your goal. That may sound inspirational in theory. But reality is not ideal or perfect and neither are you and I. Life gets in the way sometimes. You may get in your own way. And sometimes you simply don’t have the energy or the courage or the time to do something. And that is OK.

Instead of trying to live up to some perfect image that other people and/or you may press upon you, choose to set human standards for yourself. Choose to give yourself a break when things don’t go as you may have wished and choose to cut yourself some slack. Instead of beating yourself up mercilessly.

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Ben April 13, 2012 at 3:07 am

Thanks Henrik,
It is good to help people. I guess the challenge with this kind of stuff is that some people aren’t open to real help and solving it and just want to complain about it.

But I believe that if people have come to a blog like this and sought you out, then they are atleast a little bit open to being helped and working on their issues.


Justlife April 13, 2012 at 6:01 am

Always give, but remember to take too. Helping people brings happiness, but never forget to help yourself too. As you said, ‘be kind to ourselves’. I love these tips, Henrik! And looking forward to your new course :)

Cristina April 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Nice article! Indeed helping others and do your part truly brings not just happiness but self-fulfillment and long lasting joy. The true meaning of life is when you start to share and reach out someone unconditionally… the smile and happiness you bring.. just PRICELESS!

Jeremy April 15, 2012 at 4:02 am

Great post! I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while. It’s part of the reason I started my own blog. http://acollegekid.com/
Be the change,

Noch Noch | be me. be natural. April 18, 2012 at 10:39 am

my key is giving myself a break. i always forget to. and need to!
Noch Noch

Vic April 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

Great tips as usual, Henrik. I always feel better after I’ve helped a friend or family member. It’s very rewarding and it doesn’t get much easier to feel instantly happier. Thanks again!

Henrik Edberg April 19, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thank you all for the added tips, insights and for the kind words! :)

Pavan April 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

hi…..i’m an indian…..i go through ur website for atleast twice a week and i feel good after reading ur articles…..do u write them on ur own or do u look some books or stuff……? And i never mind about this…..But one thing, whatever ur put on ur blog are realistic and very close to our daily life……u rock……i’m a big fan of u……

Zoe Alexander April 19, 2012 at 10:44 am

Henrik, thanks for helping me get things back in perspective. I have been working so hard recently on the launch of our new designer maternity brand that I’ve lost my way a little! Fatigue and a sense of frustration have been eroding my usual positivity! Just looking for that opportunity now!

Happiness April 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

Happiness comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!

Ann B April 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This really helps me! Thank you so much for your blog! I was having a bad day and I found this and now I’m fine :) Thanks

samir April 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I completely agree on the idea of comparing yourself with yourself. This way we cannot keep any limit to our growth. Be better then what you were yesterday.

Anurag Sharma April 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Thanks Henrik for this wonderful post

Marien Perez April 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

Great input Henrik

I particularly like the idea of “lowering the bar”. I’ve never tried it with happiness, but a friend helped me use it in situations that matter to me.

For example, when I’m about to enter a critical meeting at work, physically I do as if I was lowering a bar. What this means is “good enough is fine”, there’s no need to be perfect.

The result is that performance improves – because lowering the bar lowers your blood pressure, nerves become manageable and you start to feel comfortable.

Tez April 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Another great article, one of your best ever and that is saying something.

The last part is so true. So many people are their own worst critics. It reminds me of a quote by Jamie Madrox: “When you compete against other people, you become bitter. When you compete against yourself, you become better.”

Erika Awakening April 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

I liked what you said in the Gandhi post about internal alignment with your words and actions. For me, that actually gives so much happiness that anything external or beyond that is just a bonus :)

David Hamilton April 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I love the “compare yourself with yourself” I view it as seeing how far you’ve come and really honoring that. Although underneath I belief self-acceptance and compassion is at the root. If coming from a space of “not good enough”, then comparing yourself to yourself can be detrimental. Which goes right into “giving yourself a break”.

rather/splendid April 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I feel one of the most important things you can do to start living happier today is to fully and authentically choose to be happy. Know that happiness is a internal choice, not an external influence, and simply choose to be happy.

Amrita April 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Dear Henrik, you wrote exactly what I need to raise the quality of life.
very well written. thanks.
wishing you all the very best for your efforts to create positivity around,

yoda May 16, 2012 at 3:15 am

” . .. happiness is the highest good, being a realization and perfect practice of virtue, which some can attain, while others have little or none of it. . . . ”

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