7 Ways to Live A Happy Life

There has been a lot of research into ways to live a happy life. So why not try a few and see what works for you?

1. Believe in something

Some studies suggest that religious people are more than twice as likely as the secular to say they were “very happy”. While this in itself is not a reason to hastily adopt a religion, we may do well to believe in something. Have you ever met a happy skeptic?

Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”

– Dale Carnegie

2. Embrace silence

Almost every person I’ve met who is living a happy life has cited “quiet time” or some equivalent as essential. Neuroscience professor Richard Davidson even measured the brain activity of Buddhist monks and showed that meditation actually altered the physical state of the brain in a way that made them feel happier.

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.”

– Bertrand Russell

3. Work on your own terms

In a recent study, those who work at their own business were much happier than even those in highly-paid professions. Having control over what we do, how we allocate our time, and choosing to do what we enjoy go a long way toward living a happy life. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job though. Instead, try to negotiate your terms of work so that you’re effectively working the way you want to.

“Drive your business; let not that drive thee.”

– Benjamin Franklin

4. Find your “flow” experience

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed that people with happy lives tend to engage in activities which resulted in “flow”. Flow exists when there is both a high level of challenge and a high level of skill. Conversely, high challenge with low skill caused anxiety, while low challenge with high skill brought boredom. Watching TV is low challenge with low skill which leads to apathy.

Whether your “flow” activity is dancing, painting, or water-skiiing, do it often!

“Live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events.”

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

5. Have something to look forward to

Viktor Frankl’s famous book Man’s Search for Meaning showed the world how having something to look forward to helped him survive extreme conditions of torture and deprivation. Brian Knutson used MRI to measure brain activity and found that even on a normal day-to-day basis, anticipation is a big part of a happy life.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

6. Hang out with friends

Friendship seems to have a much greater effect on how happy our life is than a typical person’s income. Economist Professor Oswald estimated that a person needs £50,000 to make up for not having friends. It is even thought that friendship can ward off germs by activating the part of the brain that controls disease. No wonder we reach for the phone to call a friend when we’re feeling blue.

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

– Tennessee Williams

7. Just carry on living

Happiness seems to follow a U-shaped life cycle: it’s highest at the beginning and end of our lives, and lowest in the middle. So if you’re feeling blue now, you may be at the bottom of the U; if you just wait a few years, you may find yourself having a happy life again!

“At my age I do what Mark Twain did. I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I’m not there I carry on as usual.”

– Patrick Moore

More ways to live a happy life

What makes people happy? The top 10 list

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46 replies on “7 Ways to Live A Happy Life”

This is a great article that hits on a lot of the most important areas of becoming happier in life! Thank you very much for writing it!

We recently published an article called 7 Ways to Become Joyful that is a great complement to this one. Give it a read!

really wonderful and practical tips. allow me to project my heartfelt thanks for the site and the related topic. the author requires all praises. have a bright day. P.M.KUMAR GANDHI

sounds simple and superb.Everyday i used to put them in my mind and i could find a lot of difference from the past. thank you from the bottom of the heart.

I am really happy with the above said recomendations and moreover my opinion is that one must plan to work hard and one must love his work and one must give importance for the knowledge and one must develop the attitude of compromise and one must practise to convince themselves and one must practise to live with the availed belongings.

Hi Kiran,

Thanks for adding these suggestions to the list on how to live a happy life. Sounds like these strategies are working for you!

bottom of the U? that sounds awful. i was hoping for an uplifting article. that sucks.

Nice day everyone!

Positive attitude will enable people to have a unique way to look at the world from another angle. In their mindset, everything is possible to achieve. If they face a problem or they make a mistake, they will bounce back from it and they will find a solution to solve it. That’s why if we focus on the positive aspect of things, we will be happier and we will be able to achieve anything.

Dear Purush,

Thank you for your kind comment, and for sharing about your wife’s faith in God. It’s true that people with strong faith tend to be happier!

I appreciate your encouraging words very much.


The First point is what my wife always got. Absolute faith in God and definetly she is more happier than me since she studies religious scriptures of Ancient Wisdom and follows it. So now understand that it is not limited to India and it is Universal.

I fully endorse “be your own boss” to be happy.

Rarely one come across such wonderful site with wonderful comments. Keep up and continue the nice work.

Even going across such nice things like this site, one tends feel happy naturally.

Wow,give us a reason to wake up every morning!
Yeah, we need it and I love it!
You are most welcome.

Tzong Yih,

And you give me a reason to check my blog every day, just to see enthusiastic, supportive comments like yours. Thanks again, very much!

Nice list,I love the 1st one very much.
Work for it, die for it!
Yeah! find something we believe and make it happen!!

Thanks for sharing.

Hey Tzong Yih,

Glad you like the list. You’re so right that finding something we can believe in, day after day, is so important to give us a reason to wake up every morning. Thanks for commenting!

What a great list. I am especially drawn to number 2 as I am incorporating more silence and quiet time into my life at present. In our world where there seems to be so much ‘rushing’ it is nice to take even a few moments regularly during the day to reconnect.

Yes, I believe with what you have written here. In fact, I’m applying most of them into my life. There are lot of ways to be happy, we just need to choose it rather than brood about life’s negativity. 🙂

@ Hilda,

I loved the way your described your transformation to a ‘learned optimist’ and can relate – I’m still learning but am much more of an optimist than I used to be. And I agree that meditation is under-rated. There is much power and peace in that simple practice. On gratitude, I once read that ‘the only prayer is gratitude’ because as you said, with gratitude you end up getting almost everything you want in a beautiful virtuous cycle.

@ Lindsey,

You’re an amazing person, and a wonderful example to the human race of just how much we are capable of. I’m sure in your position I wouldn’t be as happy, and admire you for being happy no matter what life throws your way!

@ Walter,

Great to know you’re already applying some of this to your life. You’re so right that it’s all about choice.

Hi Daphne,

I’ve read ALOT on the subject of happiness over the years, and have transformed myself from a miserable pessimist to a learned – and happy – optimist.

All of your points are very important, but if I were to single out one thing that everyone can do no matter what their current circumstances are, and would make a huge difference, it’s the one on meditation. It truly is powerful. And to add another: gratitude. Appreciation fosters happy feelings, and attracts more experiences to be grateful for – all adds to a virtuos cycle 🙂

I have found more meaning in my life when I started contributing my assistance and service to others. In the process, I become happier myself.

I used to think that there are many happy people out there. More recently, I realized that it is not really true. There are many who have been pretty much in pain and seeking help.

Hi Daphne

Lovely to see a post on Joyful days in my Google Reader this morning – and such an uplifting one at that! I concur with all 7 points you make, but especially like the quote ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ When you are immersed in doing something you really enjoy like your dancing, or being passionate about a business for instance, it does somehow give you a ‘toucstone’ to lift you when the ‘how’ of life gets you down. I’m really happy you’re enjoying your dancing and ‘off line’ world, but it’s always great to see a new post from you when the moment strikes to write!

All the best for now


“Which is partly why I’m blogging less now – I have a happy life to keep me occupied!” This is great. You sound happy! I find that spending time with friends does bring a lot of happiness into one’s life. It sometimes takes an effort to stay in touch, but it is definitely worth it.

I can attest that they all work. I’ve even been quite happy in the middle even though I’m sliding out of that place.

I wonder if the middle is not happy for people because all of the changes that happen at that age.

Excellent rundown.

I used to think happiness was doing nothing, then I found out it’s actually doing something. It’s got to be meaningful to you, and the secret is giving your best where you have your best to give (the secret of flow and engagement.)

The “work on your terms” is interesting to me, especially your suggestion that it doesn’t mean we necessarily have to go out and start our own business. After all, not everyone was meant to be an entrepreneur. Sometimes all it takes is asking – either as part of a job offer, or as part of a performance raise negotiation – for what we want. One year, in lieu of more money, I asked for an extra week of vacation. I pointed out the bottom line cost savings to the company, and they agreed. I ended up with four weeks of vacation, which made me VERY happy.

I enjoyed reading this list – keep dancing!

@ Hilary,

Wow you actually remembered each of the seven ways… and was able to summarise them in your comment so beautifully! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You know how much I appreciate every minute of your time spent here, because I know what kind of demands are on you right now.

@ Megan,

Yep, not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Interestingly though, just over a century back we were all tradesmen and basically ran our own ‘business’ and decided our working terms. Only since industrialisation did the corporate structure start to form our lives… and many today feel trapped by this. I still work for someone else but have negotiated terms I’m very happy with, without having the hassle of running my own business, so I know this is possible. Good on you too, for negotiating for that extra week of vacation… those were your terms and you got them!

@ JD,

I like your succinct phrase: “giving your best where you have your best to give” and I think this is a good guideline for anyone seeking fulfilment and happiness in life. Thanks for leaving your usual insightful comment.

@ Tess,

You have managed your life so well that I suspect you’ve been happy most of the time! Yes even the middle can be happy, since the research results work on averages and you’ve obviously beat those averages by consciously choosing to live well. You’re right that maybe the changes we go through in middle age – raising a family, or not being able to find a spouse to start a family with – all these have an impact on our happiness depending on how we choose to view and deal with these.

Hi Daphne – the points you describe so well are so true – Believe in Something – the Dale Carnegie quote .. if we occupy ourselves, we live life to the full much more; We need silence to listen to nature, to work through our thoughts, and as you say meditate and retreat. Work on your own terms – we do achieve so much more. TV and media are so negative and impart that into life in general – it’s not at all good.

Having something to look forward to .. essential! Hang out with friends who give you so many new ideas, laughs, thoughts – really so important in life; A “U-shaped” life .. interesting .. I can’t say I’ve found that .. but I’m happy .. I guess Sir Patrick Moore (aged 86), the astronomer, is right – he’s fine .. he doesn’t feature .. long life to us all ..

So pleased you’re happy dancing away, enjoying life and laughs with friends, going with the flow while finding the time for us! Thank you .. good to see you again … Hilary

Hi Daphne,
This is so good to read! And really, reading this I feel a deep sense of happiness both for you, and within you. Daphne, this is so good to read, especially your footnote. I wish you much continued happiness. Keep dancing, sweet friend…

@ Carla,

You are an amazing person for being happy despite what your life circumstances are. Yes I agree with you that looking forward to small things is enough – for me it is lunch with a friend, making the house clean, or just getting dressed to go out… joy is in the little things. Thanks for making time to be here.

@ Baker,

Thanks for your encouraging comment, and for being able to see my attempt at putting together a coherent post. In fact I re-arranged the points a few times to get them in an order I felt would make sense and make the post flow better. I’m so pleased that someone recognises that effort. Thank you! I’m starting to like “flow” a lot too these days…

@ Lance,

As usual you bring a burst of sunshine here with your caring words. Thank you for always being here and for being such a wonderful friend. Your encouragement is very much appreciated!

Wow. I have to mention that these tips here are very powerful. This is excellent. I can definetly see that you really did an amazing job at laying out these 7 tips carefully. I am a big fan of “flow” and use it daily in my life for beyond successful results in my persoanl activites.

I can definitely relate to having something to look forward to. When you live your live day by day in a tape loop, it can make things pretty dull and depressing. For me it doesn’t have a bit a huge, life changing thing, just looking forward to meeting with friends for an afternoon can be more than enough.

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