How To Be Happier

3 Things You Need To Know.

Happiness. The word itself sounds like cotton candy, rainbows, and butterflies. Yet it eludes us when we chase it. Why is that?

Everyone wants to be happy. If happiness is elusive, what are you to do?

Without knowing these 3 things, you’ll never be happier on purpose.

Happiness is Like a Butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder. — Thoreau

The first thing you need to know

Happiness doesn’t just happen. You have to be happier — on purpose.

You have a part to play in whether or not you’re happy. You can purpose to be happier.

Yes, there are things that happen to us and around us affecting us.

Yes, there are people who have chemical issues in their bodies.

Yes, there are times in life when sadness or grief are needed.

Yes, those things are true.

But you have the power of how to respond to them. You don’t have to allow them to take over your life.

You can do something.

YOU are in charge of your happiness.

Happiness doesn’t just happen. You have to be happier — on purpose. Click To Tweet

The second thing you need to know

There is a reason happy feelings disappear as fast as cotton candy melts in your mouth.

It’s a thing called hedonic adaptation.

I know the term sounds awful. Not pretty like rainbows and butterflies. But it affects us all.

What is hedonic adaptation?

It is a process or mechanism that reduces the affective impact of emotional events. Generally, hedonic adaptation involves a happiness “set point”, whereby humans generally maintain a constant level of happiness throughout their lives, despite events that occur in their environment.

It is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. (source)

If you went huh? After reading that you’re not alone.

I did too.

So I kept digging to understand.

Here’s my definition.

Hedonic adaptation is the loss of the thrill after something good happens. It’s the new normal after the initial emotional impact.

Let me give you an example.

You get a new car. You’re elated. No food or beverage allowed in the car, you wash it frequently, you park far away from other cars and do other protective things for your “new baby.” Until the honeymoon is over. You start eating fast food while driving, parking as close as you can to the store, complaining about the payment…

There is a reason happy feelings disappear as fast as cotton candy melts in your mouth. Click To Tweet

The new and exciting became every day. The thrill is gone.

We not only get used to it, we start to take it for granted.

This happens in every area of our lives.

Hedonic adaptation works against your happiness.

Sounds depressing.

What can you do about it?

The third thing you need to know

Gratitude is the antidote.

Gratitude is not a feeling, it’s a state of be-ing that flows out of our inner life.

It doesn’t come to us naturally. We need to put it into our hearts and minds on purpose.

Gratitude not only can cure hedonic adaptation, it has many other benefits also.

The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. (Source)

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. — Willie Nelson

An Attitude of Gratitude, Count your Blessings, the Cup is Half Full or a positive attitude/mindset.

However you want to word it, you can do something every day to feed that into yourself.

Remember the first thing I said you need to know? YOU are in charge of your happiness.

If you want to be happier on purpose — you need to employ gratitude.

How do you employ gratitude?

Something I did was start a good things jar.

I started on New Year’s Day.

The next morning I wrote down something good that happened the day before and put it in the jar.

I’m going to read them all at the end of the year.

I’ve done this every morning since.

Some days the paper is full, and some days there is just one thing.

But every morning I find at least one thing good from the day before that I am grateful for and I feed my inner gratitude.

There is always something to be grateful for.

Being grateful is looking at what we have and not focusing on what is missing.

Being grateful is shifting focus from what we don’t like to something we do.

Being grateful is taking notice of good things in our lives like my good things jar.

Some say if you don’t count your blessings then the blessings don’t count. These lyrics speak volumes!

Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot Joni Mitchell — Big Yellow Taxi

Don’t let hedonic adaptation steal your happiness.

Don’t let your blessings drive off in a yellow taxi because you failed to pay attention.

Take responsibility for your happiness — be happier on purpose! Click To Tweet

Take responsibility for your happiness — be happier on purpose!

Make a good things jar for yourself. It doesn’t need to be for an entire year. Do a month or whatever works for you. You got kids? Include them. Teach them to take responsibility for their happiness.

Do you see something in your life where hedonic adaptation has stolen from you and a blessing might be headed to a taxi? Every day write down something you are grateful for about that subject or person.

More ideas here.

What are you going to do?

  • Let me know in the comments.
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Danielle Bernock is a the author of Emerging With Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, And The LOVE that Heals. Follow her on Twitter at @dbernock

Originally published at on May 23, 2017.