Practice the Art of Happiness

Earlier this year, I was searching for the secret to happiness.  I picked up the book, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale thinking that I would find my happiness.  I did not get past the first few pages.  I don’t blame the book; I just wasn’t ready.  If your mind, heart, and soul are not open to change, then seeking advice is pointless.

After months of wallowing over the things missing in my life, I realized that I needed to change.  I focused on what I can control.  My thoughts, my voice, my actions, and perception of life come from within.

These are five things that I picked up from others practicing the art of happiness.

  1. Live in the present

I hear people say, “If only I would win the lottery,” “If only I lived in that city,” or “If only I would have that high paying job.”  We think that if we had even one of these things, then all of our worries would vanish.  Having money, possessions, or status does not bring joy.  If you are programmed to look at the negatives in your life, then chances are you will more often than not find something to lament.  Living in the past can also be as detrimental.  We may find ourselves asking, “Why?”  So much energy is misdirected towards thinking about what we lack or what we could have done differently instead of what we have now.  It is time to concentrate on what is within and the good that we have.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

We are all on unique paths, and that is beautiful.  We have no sense in looking at the person beside us.  We tend to idealize the lives of others, but no one knows in reality what that person had to go through to get to where they are now.  Let’s start valuing our journey and finding comfort in the things we’ve accomplished.

  1. Don’t live your life for others

Do what satisfies you and only you.  We may want to be liked and appreciated by the people around us, but sometimes that’s not possible.  Pleasing everyone is a losing battle.  Being true to yourself can lead to a fulfilling life.  Thinking about others before yourself can paralyze you and prevent you from pursuing something you value.

  1. Appreciate your trusted circle

Love and be grateful for the people who love you no matter what. I watched the YouTube video, An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of HappinessSeveral people are asked to call the most influential person in their lives and tell them how much they mean to them.  At the end of the experiment, participants were increasingly happy.  Every time we show an act of kindness or gratitude, we feel better.  We have a purpose.  Humans need to feel valued and connected; it’s what gives meaning to our lives.

  1. Count your blessings

Every night before I go to bed, I count three good things that happened to me in the day. Big or small, it helps shift my focus from the negative to the positive.  Our mind has been trained to imagine terrible things and to prepare for them, but if we analyze how useful this type of thinking is, we will discover that we have been hurting ourselves instead of building ourselves.

Happiness is something that is practiced.  It is not something you can pick up in one day.  If things don’t change dramatically, please don’t give up.  Allow yourself to try at least one of these steps, and you’ll notice the fascinating life you already have.    

-Stephanie Sandoval

Photograph by Dương Trần Quốc (


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