How to Live a Happy Life: 10 Things to Say Yes to Starting Today

How to Live a Happy Life: 10 Things to Say Yes to Starting Today

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

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
Chinese Proverb

Saying no is often the easier way out.

When you say no you can safely stay within your comfort zone. You don’t have to fear failing or being rejected.

The scary unknown and sometimes difficult change can be avoided.

But if you say yes your life can expand and deepen. The yes allows you to open up your life to more happiness.

Today I would like to share 10 things that I have said yes to and that have helped me to become happier in my life.

Pick one of these that resonate the most with you and focus on making it a part of your life.

1. Being imperfect.

Trying to be perfect is setting the bar too high. It will be impossible to reach.

And so you’ll lower your self-esteem. You may not feel very happy about how things are going in your life.

Even though they might be going very well indeed.

Perfectionism is mindset that eats at you and your happiness. Saying yes to being imperfect can turn that around.

How to do it:

Realize the costs of buying into myths of perfection. 

By watching too many movies, listening to too many songs and just taking in what the world is telling you it is very easy to be lulled into dreams of perfection.

It sounds so good and wonderful and you want it.

But in real life it clashes with reality and it can harm or possibly lead you to end relationships, jobs, projects etc. just because your expectations are out of this world.

I find it very helpful to remind myself of this simple fact.

Go for good enough.

Aiming for perfection usually winds up in a project or something else very slowly or never being finished.

So go for good enough instead.

Don’t use it as an excuse to slack off. But simply realize that there is something called good enough and when you are there then you are finished with whatever you are doing.

2. Being you.

Not being able to be yourself, always trying to change for others or censoring yourself don’t feel good at all.

It makes life feel so small and limited.

So how can you be yourself? Your environment plays a huge part.

How to do it:

Supportive people.

Spend more time with the people who support your dreams, values and you. Or are at least neutral.

And spend less time with people who always criticize you or you simply aren’t a good fit for.

Supportive and life-expanding influences outside of your everyday life.

Change your environment not only close to you. Go further and spend more time with sources of information that supports your dreams and can give you information that expands and makes your life happier and more exciting.

Find support from people you have never met via books, movies, blogs, forums and music.

And spend less time with negative and limiting influences.

3. The things that make you come alive.

It is important to find some time and energy for the things that you feel makes you come alive.

How to do it:

Mix it up.

Try something new, even if it is just something small each week.

  • Eat the vegetarian dish at lunch if you always eat meat.
  • Listen to some music that isn’t your normal cup of tea.
  • Go out to a movie, café or pub with friends if you usually stay in at night. Or vice versa.

Create variation and expand your comfort zone regularly in small ways to live a happier life.

Reconnect with what you used to love if it has fallen by the wayside.

If you used to go fishing, paint or play the guitar and it really made you come alive then reconnect.

Use an hour for it this week and see if it still brings you joy and makes you come alive.

4. Optimism.

Pessimism can really limit your life and bring it to a standstill.

It can make it feel like there's no point in trying because it won’t make a difference or you’ll just fail. It can create ceilings and walls made out of glass where there really are none.

Saying yes a more optimistic way of thinking can on the other hand open your life up.

How to do it:

Ask yourself optimistic questions.

When you’re in what seems like a negative situation then make something better out of it by asking yourself questions that promote optimism and helps you to find solutions.

Questions like:

  • What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
  • What is the opportunity within this situation?

Start your day off on the right foot.

As mentioned in tip #2, the influences in your life can make a huge difference.

So choose to spend your breakfast time with an optimistic influence like for example a book, a blog or your mom.

Or talk to someone early in the day that most often supports and cheers you up like a co-worker or a friend in school.

5. Turning negative self-talk around.

It is very important to keep your motivation and your self-esteem up to live a happier life.

Your inner critic may be one of biggest obstacles standing in your way of that.

If you make a mistake or fail, if someone criticizes you or if you are just getting tired then that small inner voice can become louder and louder and drag and keep you down.

It can tell you that you are stupid or lazy. That you will not succeed. That you are worse or uglier than someone else.

Being able to turn the inner critic around or to shut it up as soon as it pops up is a very helpful skill.

How to do it:

Say stop.

Simply create a stop word or stop-phrase that you say or shout in your mind whenever your critic pipes up with a distorted and self-esteem hurting thought.

Say: Stop!

Or: No, no, no, we are not going there again!

Explain to yourself what this will lead to over the next year or more.

As I mentioned in tip #1, reminding yourself of the cost of buying into myths of perfection is a powerful way to replace those thought habits.

This works very well for other self-esteem hurting thought patterns too.

Remind yourself of how the inner critic has shaped your life so far. And in your mind see the cost of letting it roam free for another year or five.

6. Saying no when you feel it is the right thing for you to do.

To have the time and energy to say yes to the most important things you have to say no to some things too.

How to do it:

What do I truly want to focus my time and energy on?

When you get an offer or an opportunity arises ask yourself this question.

When you look over your schedule ask yourself this question. Think about and look at what your top priorities are and what you deep want before you say anything.

Disarm and then state your need.

It becomes easier for people to accept your no if you disarm them first.

You could for example do that by honestly saying that you are flattered or that you appreciate the kind offer.

Then you, for instance, add that you do not have the time for accepting and doing what they want. Or say that you do not feel that this offer is a good fit for your life right now.

7. Forgiveness.

Not clinging to the past and to the hurt that is there but to let it go and look to the now and the future is an essential thing to find more happiness in your life.

Forgiving is not always easy and can take time but there are some things that can make it a little easier.

How to do it:

Remind yourself that you forgive for your own benefit.

As long as you don’t forgive someone you are linked to that person. Your thoughts will return to the person who wronged you and what he or she did over and over again.

The emotional link between the two of you is so strong and inflicts much suffering in you and – as a result of your inner turmoil – most often in other people around you too.

When you forgive you do not only release the other person. You set yourself free from all of that agony too.

Make a habit of forgiving yourself.

Do not just forgive others but also yourself. By forgiving yourself – instead of resenting yourself for something you did a week or 10 years ago – you make the habit of forgiveness more and more of a natural part of you.

And so forgiving others becomes easier too.

8. Making someone else happy.

Making someone else happier has many benefits. The happiness spreads back to you as you see his or her face light up and as you know you did the right thing.

It spreads back to you as people have a strong tendency to want to give back when you have done something good for them.

And it spreads out into the world as that now happier person may spread his or her happiness to other people.

How to do it:

Help out practically.

Lend someone a hand when they are moving. Or give them a ride in your car. Or if they need information, try to find a solution by asking the people you know or via Google.

Just listen.

Sometime a friend or someone close to you may just want to vent or for someone to listen as he or she figures things out. 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.

9. Openness and growth.

Saying yes to being open to the good things in life and growing as a person plays a big role when it comes to happiness.

The other things in this article will help you with that. But here are two more tips that will make your journey a little easier and simpler.

How to do it:

Change one thing at a time.

Changing many things or your whole life at once sure sounds good. But willpower is something we often overestimate and everyday life tends to come in the way.

So to make sure you have a much better chance of changing a habit or area of your life change just one thing at a time.

Start small.

Just say no to one small thing you don’t want to do this week. Or forgive one person for one thing. Or help and make someone happy in some small way.

Take just one small step outside of your comfort zone.

10. To living your life fully despite setbacks.

When things have been standing still for while or you hit a bump in the road then it's easy to back down. To shrink. To give in or give up.

But a better way to say yes to happiness in those situations is to say yes to living your life fully.

How to do it:

Keep going.

When you fail or make a mistake don’t give up. Reconnect with optimism by using the questions further up in this article. Find inspiration from books and blogs and the people around you.

And don’t beat yourself up. Instead nudge yourself back on track again.

Remember, it's not too late to change your life.

I didn’t really try to improve my life very much until I was 25. And many throughout the world and history have made positive changes far later in life than that.

So if you want to make a change then start today. Work with what you have where you are right now.

Start small and take the first step towards something new.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sometimes we have to deal with negative environments like friend cheats, loss of job, lack of money or breakup, etc. That time, we don’t knowm how can we enjoy patience or positive energy that time? Of course thing come and go with the time but the main question is how to handle that situation calmly. Can you suggest anything on this?

    • Anna Abbott

      I am not trying to simplify your problem, however; there is a quote that says, ” it doesn’t matter what happens but how you take it” in other words what matters is your interpretation of the situation, how you take it. Everything will pass in time,
      what you are going through shall pass too. Good day!

  • Ogunoh Anastesia Ifeoma

    Thanks for these writes up, I have been dying slowly with things happening around me but I told myself I will never give up. I promise to forgive myself, those that have wronged me. I need to start life afresh again no matter what, I need to have and live a happy life through God. Thanks so much

  • Lisa

    Wow – the forgiveness part really spoke to me. “When you forgive you do not only release the other person. You set yourself free from all of that agony too.” So hard to do, but so true and so worth it.

  • Fiona Jayne Slater

    I feel at a time on my life where I think of the negative and I think of my future and getting old. I cant think of anything else my partner has been diagnosed with MS and I feel so lonely. I feel I cant live for today and I’m missing out on the joy of my days. How do I reconnect with day?

  • Thanks, I’ve just been searching for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.

    • Sharon

      Dear Henrik: Thank you for your wise and uplifting emails. I always look forward to them. It is a gift that you share your experiences with others, & there is so much universal truth in what you share. Keep well.

  • Beautifully explained and the 3rd point od being with your own things was amazing ..Thanks for each word of positivity.

  • We should search happiness within ourselves definitely

  • Yes! Saying yes to being imperfect is so freeing. Since I’ve started letting go of being perfect, I’ve been able to relax and be myself more. Thanks for the post!

  • Armaya Doremi


    Thank you for sharing this. Your article is so inspirational. I have tried to be imperfect, albeit people told me that I am such a pessimist person who doesn’t believe in my self.

  • Really nice article.
    Thanks for sharing.
    It also generates positive vibes

  • Nice article.
    Thanks for sharing.
    It also help in generating positive vibes.

  • Hi,
    i think that if every person would do at least one of these earth would be a so much better place to live in.
    Increese positive energy, every day little by little, and you are on the right track.
    Thank you for a great article.

  • Turning around the negative self-talk is so important!! We’re so hard on ourselves a lot of the time. If we just gave ourselves the grace we give everyone else, we would be in a better space mentally. Be your own cheerleader! Great reminder for everyone.

  • Vee Ci

    Just wanna share this that may help for being a positive person.

    “In every hardships, there is ease”

    Whenever we faced a hard situation like we’re giving up on all things, let’s bear in our mind that there is ease after hardships..

  • Christina

    Wonderful article! GREAT tips on how to live a happy life. Finding happiness in our lives is something that everyone wants to enjoy more frequently.