If you’re wondering how to learn to be happy with what you have, you’re in the right place.
Many people say that they want a bigger house, more money, or a better job. They believe these things will bring them more happiness in their lives.
These things don’t necessarily go hand in hand with happiness.
So what do you need to become a happy person?
Do You Need More to Be Happy?
The short answer is yes – and no.
To be happy, your basic needs have to be met (such as having enough food and water).
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but that’s only somewhat true. If someone doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, this is sure to impact their happiness!
Yet, people with enough money continue to turn to external sources to find happiness.
If You’re Not Happy Now, You Won’t Be Happy With More
Most people think they will be happier if they have more of something.
Usually, this isn’t the case. Unless, as we mentioned, someone’s basic needs are not being met.
But beyond this, people need much less than what they think.
Take, for example, eating a slice of cake. One slice is typically enough. Once you eat that second or third slice, you usually end up regretting it. This is explained by the law of diminishing returns whereby the satisfaction you get from consuming more and more of something starts to decrease.
The same goes for other things in life like material possessions and even experiences. There is a point of diminishing returns where you are no longer getting the same level of satisfaction from consuming more.
So, if you’re not happy now, chances are you won’t be any happier with more. This is why it’s important to focus on living a life of quality rather than quantity.
So, what’s the solution?
Read on to learn some practical tips for learning to be happy with what you have.
How to Learn to Be Happy With What You Have
1. Adopt a Gratitude Attitude
Practicing gratitude is an instant way to feel happier with what you have.
Research shows that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on your mental health. It reduces stress and depressive symptoms.
Here are some ways you can practice gratitude:
Start a Gratitude Journal
At the end of each day, write down the things, moments, and experiences that made you feel happy.
Notice What You Already Have
Many things make us happy that we often take for granted. Take a moment to acknowledge the good things in your life. Consider joining in on Thankful Thursday! Every Thursday, think about things you’re grateful for and make a note of them.
Thank Those Who Show You Kindness
Did a friend invite you over for dinner? Did the barista make you a great cup of coffee? Acknowledge them and say thanks!
Celebrate the Wins
No matter how big or how small, allow yourself to celebrate when things go your way.
Practicing gratitude daily is a surefire way to enhance your subjective well-being.
2. Make More Memories
Unsurprisingly, the way you spend your time is extremely important, especially when it comes to measuring happiness.
World-renowned American-Israeli Psychologist Daniel Kahneman suggests that:
“Happiness feels good in the moment. But it’s in the moment. What you’re left with are your memories. And that’s a very striking thing – that memories stay with you, and the reality of life is gone in an instant. So memory has a disproportionate weight because it’s with us.”
In other words, rather than trying to get more money or things, aim to make more memories. The goal is to resist instant gratification and rather invest time in doing things that make you feel happy.
Spending money on experiences rather than things is one way to do this. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who spend money on life experiences rather than material goods are generally happier.
By doing happy things and experiencing life, you’ll have a ton of happy memories to look back on.
A great idea is to make a photo album of all those pictures you’ve taken on your phone and probably never look at. This way you can easily reminisce about the happy moments you’ve enjoyed with friends.
To accomplish this easily, use the Do Happy App to create more happy memories and then curate them in a beautiful, virtual journal to enjoy anytime.
3. Let Go of Expectations
Expectations seem to be around every corner. Whether they come from ourselves or other people, they can harm our overall happiness.
We all want to be in charge of our own stories. It doesn’t matter what your friends or family members are saying.
It’s important to listen to your inner voice and hear what it has to say. Perhaps you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.
People have a habit of putting too much pressure on themselves to live a certain lifestyle. Unable to meet these high expectations, they often end up unhappy with the results.
But don’t despair!
If you let go of your expectations and focus on the present moment, you’ll be able to appreciate what you do have.
4. Focus on Your Relationships
Happiness is frequently determined by your closest relationships. What’s more, good social support is great for your mental health.
Building meaningful, lasting relationships with your friends and family is sure to leave you feeling happy.
A famous Harvard University study revealed that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Harvard graduate or an economically marginalized person growing up in Boston. As long as you have good relationships, you’ll be happy!
Here are a few tips on cultivating relationships:
Be Fully Present
When you’re spending time with a loved one, make sure you are actually with them and not looking at your phone.
Engage in Active Listening
This means genuinely listening to what the other person is saying.
Keep in Touch
Keeping in touch with friends can be as simple as sending a quick message every so often to say hello. When you fall out of touch for a while, consider sending a thinking of you gift to show you still care.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
If you want to learn to be happy with what you have, you need to hop off the comparison train.
It’s easy to find yourself stuck in the comparison trap where you feel a constant need to compare yourself to others.
Social media has made us all believe that everyone is successful and can always be happy.
However, the phrase ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ has never been more accurate.
It may seem that other people have more than you do. In reality, they are probably also sitting on the sofa wishing they were happier.
For life satisfaction, stop looking at everyone else’s success.
Being aware of the good things that you have in your own life is an easy way to increase your own happiness. Be grateful for what you have and love yourself for who you are!
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a quick and simple way to boost self-esteem and engage in self-care. And it has multiple mental health benefits!
Studies show that this can reduce stress and negative thinking. The best part is that there are multiple ways you can introduce mindfulness into your life.
Some people enjoy mindfully taking a sip of tea, while others mindfully wash the dishes! This is a great trick to learning how to be happy with what you have, rather than searching for new sources of happiness.
If you’re not sure what to try, here’s a recommendation:
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Focus on trying to make today great by being present. Notice any feelings that come up, and let them go.
Stay present for a few minutes.
You can also try labeling your thoughts. For example, if you’re thinking “I can’t do this,” label that thought as “negative.” Don’t get attached to the negative thought, and simply let it go.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to focus on the present moment and be deliberate about your thoughts and actions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how big of an impact this can have on your happiness!
7. Get Your Hygge On
Say what now? Let us explain.
Every year, Scandinavian countries rank highest in the annual worldwide happiness reports. Danish happiness researcher, and founder of The Happiness Research Institute, Meik Wiking reveals their secret.
Meik Wiking explains that Danes don’t necessarily have more than others. In fact, they are subject to some of the highest tax rates in the world, and it’s dark outside for a fair amount of the year.
So what’s their secret?
“It’s hygge,” he says.
Hygge – pronounced hyoo-guh – doesn’t translate well into English. Instead, it’s described as ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,’ ‘cocoa by candlelight,’ and ‘the art of creating intimacy.’
Creating a sense of hygge at home is a wonderful way to get your happy on. Simply introduce a few cozy things into your life!
Consider following these ideas:
- Lighting a candle and enjoying watching the flame dance.
- Practicing togetherness in your family and with friends.
- Wearing comfortable clothing, and choosing clothes that make you feel good.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the charming concept of hygge, you’ll find it hard not to be happy where you are!
8. Change Your Thought Patterns
Positive thinking is a great tool to foster a happier life.
Humans tend to remember negative events rather than positive ones. These negative thoughts naturally have an impact on our happiness levels.
But there are ways you can change these negative thought patterns.
One of the things to do at the end of the day is to reminisce. Go over what you have done that day, and most importantly, think about what the good bits were!
Over time, you’ll build up a bank of happy memories that you can think about if you’re feeling down.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself engaging in negative thinking. We all do it!
Simply notice when you do it, and with some self-compassion, let any negative emotions fade away. Afterward, you’ll be left feeling happier.
9. Embrace the Less Is More Philosophy
When it comes to being happy with what you have, as the saying goes, ‘less is more.’ Frequently, a simple life is a happier one, so learning to embrace minimalism can be a great way to find joy in what you have.
Imagine a hotel room. It has minimal decorations and minimal clutter. It only has what you need.
This example shows that true happiness comes from within, not from material goods.
Once you realize that happiness doesn’t come from owning more stuff, your feelings of happiness are sure to soar! And when you’re feeling happy, the rest will fall into place.
For a quick fix, try organizing your wardrobe. Throw out anything that you haven’t worn in the past year (unless it’s something that you genuinely haven’t had the opportunity to wear, like a ski suit).
When you finish, take a step back and notice how much nicer it is to look at your clothes. This is a great trick to feeling happier.
When you see less clutter in your living space, you’ll feel calmer and happier. This is a simple way to be happy with what you have (or rather, what you don’t have)!
Another trick is to post less on social media.
We get a surge of happiness from notifications. But, once they’ve gone, we crave more. This can lead to disappointment and ultimately negative feelings.
Turning off notifications can instantly make you feel calmer.
10. Do Something Good for Yourself Every Day
As human beings, we often focus on the needs of others. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to make sure you’re happy in your own life.
You might be wondering, “How can I make everyone happy?”
The answer is you can’t!
Every day, show yourself self-compassion and spend time doing something that makes you feel happy.
You might enjoy engaging in fun activities or curling up with a good book.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you like.
Now it’s up to you to learn how to be happy where you are.
We’ve looked at some great ways to foster happiness, and know how to be happy with what you already have.
The true secret is to choose the things that suit you. Once you start one or more of these practices, you’re sure to be a happier person.