Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about being happy. The most important thing I have learned is that happiness is a choice. While we cannot directly control our emotions, we can choose to live in ways that make us happy. I understand what it’s like to feel lost, so I wanted to share my “keys to happiness” to help others who feel helpless like I did. I wrote this for people who are struggling to find themselves, people who were once happy but seem to have lost it, and people who simply want to bring more positivity into their lives.

I realize that finding happiness is often a subjective matter; we all find it in different ways. This list was created from my own successful attempts at finding happiness, but some of the tips on it might not work for everyone. This is my advice based on my own experience.

Here are the Keys to Happiness, from A to Z:

Allow yourself to be imperfect.

If you’re like me and tend to be overly critical of yourself, stop. Take a step back and realize that no one is perfect. Recognize your faults and learn how to improve, but don’t beat yourself up over your imperfections. Think constructively, not destructively.

Believe in yourself.

You are capable of so much, but you have to stop doubting yourself. Your self-doubt is only getting in the way of your potential success. It’s time to start believing in yourself so you can get to work on things that matter to you.

Chase your passions.

I have to write. If I don’t write every day, I am not happy. Maybe you feel that way about art, music, crafting, or any other passion you might have.

“Chase your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.”

I couldn’t imagine living a happy life without writing. If you have something that you feel the same way about, make time for it. You will be a lot happier if you are able to spend time doing something you are passionate about.

Dance when no one is watching.

Or sing. Let loose. You don’t have to be serious all the time.

Express yourself.

Don’t let bottled up emotions affect your mood. Express yourself by speaking, writing, making art, or by using any other medium that suits you. We all have stress in our lives, and it’s important to relieve that stress through a healthy form of expression. Discover a medium that you love and devote a certain amount of time to it each day or week. For me, my stress relieving medium is blogging. I find joy in writing for this blog because it is a fun way for me to express myself.

Find inner peace.

Once upon a time, I felt like I was at war with myself. I was unhappy, depressed, and overly critical of every action I took. Today, my mind is a much more peaceful place. I learned to accept myself, flaws and all, and I became a much happier person.

Give to others.

It always feels good to help someone else. Anyone can do it, too. Giving can mean doing a chore for a family member without being asked, or it can mean going out and volunteering for a cause you are passionate about. There are infinite ways to give back. For a more extensive list, check out my post “50 Ways You Can Make A Positive Impact in 2017.”

Have an open mind.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is its diversity. There are so many different people, places, religions, cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives. I found that I was a much happier person once I learned to accept others and appreciate the diversity of my surroundings. It helped me to better understand my individuality; I realized that I have a place in this world just like everyone else. Being a more open minded and accepting person was just another step toward happiness.

Ignore hate.

While some criticism can be constructive, hate is not. Hate doesn’t help anyone. If hateful people are not trying to help you, then why should you listen to them? Positive people don’t allow haters to get in the way of their happiness and success. You are capable of so much. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Journey to new and foreign places.

It’s always exciting to see something new. Visiting new places helps you to understand the cultures and perspectives of people who are different from you. This goes along with my previous point about being open minded and accepting others. By traveling and meeting all sorts of people, you learn to appreciate the diversity in the world and also better understand your place in the mix. For many, traveling is a very fulfilling activity. You will probably be happier if you take some time to travel around and experience other parts of the world.

Know your worth.

You are a unique individual, and that alone makes you worth so much. Your thoughts, feelings, and ideas are priceless. You can contribute much more to society than you think. By living a positive lifestyle and working toward goals you feel driven to achieve, you can make an incredible difference in the world.

Love fiercely.

Love your family, love your friends, and love your significant other (if you have one right now). Life is too short to hold back your love. And if you really, truly, without a doubt in your mind love someone and want to be with him or her forever, don’t let that person go. It’s a mistake to turn your back on someone who could have made you the happiest person alive. Love fiercely, and when you find it, don’t let it go.

Manage your time and money well.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it’s a lot easier to be happy if you are able to live comfortably (whatever that means for you). The amount of money doesn’t matter as long as you are able to manage it well and know how much you need to live the lifestyle you want. The same goes for time. We are only given a limited amount of time in this world, so time management is key to everything in life. Spend your time in ways that you find productive and fulfilling, and you will be much happier.

Nourish your body.

Eat healthy. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Take care of your skin. Brush your teeth and floss every day. If you take care of your body, it will treat you well now and in the future.

Observe the world around you.

Turn off your phone. Get away from technology for a minute. I’m all for staying connected, but I think it’s equally as important to turn it off every once in a while and take a walk in the park or go for a bike ride. You’ll be surprised at how much you notice about the world around you when you actually look.

Paint a picture.

Let loose and paint, even if you’ve never painted in your life. Don’t worry about what it looks like. Just break free from the criticism of your left brain and allow your right brain to take over for a few minutes. Create something for the sake of creating. You might just find it relaxing.

Quit making excuses.

Excuses hinder your progress and success. If you keep making excuses, you will never accomplish anything. So stop! Hold yourself accountable, reach for your goals, and happiness and success will come to you.

Radiate positivity.

Positive people are happy people.

Socialize, but also spend time alone.

I have found that it’s important to balance social time with alone time. I am a lot happier when I’m able to interact with a lot of other people, but I also need alone time so I can reflect. I know I couldn’t be happy if I never spent time with other people, but I also wouldn’t be happy if I never had time alone. Finding the perfect balance can be tricky, and the balance varies from person to person. However, I still think it’s important for everyone to consider.

Try your best at everything.

You will find success if you always put in your best effort.

Understand your feelings.

We feel happy. We feel excited, sad, angry, depressed, and an array of other emotions in our lives, depending on the day and the circumstance. It’s important to understand that we can’t be happy all the time. We can’t control our emotions, but we can often control the circumstances that cause us to feel certain emotions.

Visit family and friends more often.

I find that I am a lot happier if I am able to stay in contact with my family and friends. I live several hours away from my family right now, but I call home often. I’m happy when I interact with the people I love on a regular basis. Perhaps you would be too.

Write in a journal.

Journals are great reflection tools. By writing in a journal, you can keep track of your experiences and feelings and look back on them later. After a while, you might even start to notice patterns in your behaviors and emotions. You could gain some valuable insight into yourself by starting a journal, plus you might find that you relieve stress by writing out your thoughts on paper.

EXpel negative energy.

It’s difficult to be a positive person if you have lots of negative energy bottled up inside of you. If you’re feeling upset, go for a run or do something creative. Try to get your mind off of what’s upsetting you by being productive. Radiate positive vibes and expel the negative ones.

Yearn to learn.

People who strive to learn are people who grow. I’m happier when I have the opportunity to learn something new every day. I love going to school because every time I go to class, I walk out of it feeling more enlightened about the subject I am studying. I feel as if I’m becoming a wiser person when I learn, and that makes me very happy.

Zero in on your life goals.

You’re awesome. You can do amazing things in life. It’s time to let go of your fear of failure, set goals you’re willing to work for, and pursue them. You will feel a lot happier and more fulfilled if you are doing things in life that you care about while holding yourself accountable. So get out there, work hard, and do the great things you’ve always dreamed of!

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