How to Learn to Be Happy With What You Have

How to Learn to Be Happy With What You Have (Top Tips)

If you’re wondering how to learn to be happy with what you have, you’re in the right place.

Many people believe that a bigger house, more money, or a better job will bring them more happiness.

However, 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, one must meet basic needs, such as having enough food and water.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but that’s only somewhat true. If someone doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, this will undoubtedly impact their happiness!

Yet, people with enough money continue to turn to external sources to find happiness.

Why?

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 someone’s basic needs are unmet.

woman buried under a pile of clothes

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 regret 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 no longer get the same level of satisfaction from consuming more.

So, if you’re unhappy now, chances are you won’t be 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 a powerful way to instantly feel happier with what you have. By consistently acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life, you train your brain to focus on the positive aspects.

Research shows that practicing gratitude can significantly impact mental health by reducing stress and depressive symptoms. Gratitude helps shift your perspective from what you lack to what you already have.

3 friends skipping outside

Here are some ways you can practice gratitude:

Start a Gratitude Journal

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to write down the things, moments, and experiences that made you happy. By regularly reflecting on the positives, you reinforce a mindset of gratitude.

Notice What You Already Have

Many things make us happy, and we often take them 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! Expressing gratitude to others makes them feel appreciated, strengthens your relationships, and increases your happiness.

Celebrate the Wins

Allow yourself to celebrate when things go your way, no matter how big or small. Whether completing a project at work, learning a new skill, or receiving a compliment, take a moment to savor the achievement. Recognizing your successes boosts your confidence and reinforces a positive outlook.

Practicing gratitude is a surefire way to enhance your subjective well-being. By consistently focusing on the good in your life, you cultivate a mindset of abundance and contentment, even in the face of challenges.

2. Make More Memories

Unsurprisingly, how you spend your time is extremely important, especially regarding 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.”

two friends chatting as they leave a subway station

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 instead 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 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 many 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 have not looked at. This way, you can easily reminisce about the happy moments you’ve enjoyed. Reliving these positive experiences can boost your mood and remind you of the good times.

To accomplish this easily, use the Do Happy App to create more happy memories and curate them in a beautiful virtual journal that you can enjoy anytime.

3. Let Go of Expectations

man releasing a bird

Expectations are around every corner. Whether they come from ourselves or others, they can harm our overall happiness. We set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration when we have rigid or unrealistic expectations.

Listening to your inner voice and hearing what it says is essential. Perhaps you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, such as achieving perfection in every aspect of your life or accomplishing goals within an unreasonable timeframe.

It’s important to remember that life is not a perfectly scripted narrative. Our own stories are filled with twists, turns, and unexpected chapters. By letting go of rigid expectations and embracing flexibility, we allow ourselves the freedom to adapt and grow.

Instead of striving for perfection, focus on progress and personal growth. Embrace your journey, knowing that each experience, whether joyful or challenging, contributes to your unique narrative.

By letting go of unrealistic expectations and being kind to yourself, you create space for genuine happiness and fulfillment and can appreciate all that you have along the way.

4. Focus on Your Relationships

Your closest relationships frequently determine your happiness. Good social support is also great for your mental health. Strong, meaningful connections with others provide a sense of belonging, love, and security.

a couple snuggling under the man's jacket

Building lasting relationships with your friends and family will make you 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 spending time with family members and friends, make sure you are actually with them and not looking at your phone. Give them your undivided attention and engage in meaningful conversations. Put away distractions and be fully present in the moment.

Engage in Active Listening

This means genuinely listening to what the other person is saying. Show interest in their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Ask follow-up questions and provide supportive feedback.

Keep in Touch

Keeping in touch with friends can be as simple as sending a quick message every so often to say hello. Check in on them, share updates about your life, and express your appreciation for their friendship.

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, 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. In today’s digital age, social media has made this even more prevalent.

Social media has made us believe everyone is successful and can always be happy. We see curated highlight reels of people’s lives, showcasing their achievements, vacations, and seemingly perfect moments. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with our own lives.

However, the phrase ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ has never been more accurate.

While others may seem to have more than you do, the reality is often different. Everyone faces challenges and struggles that may not be visible on the surface.

woman covering her ears

Those people you compare yourself to are probably also sitting on the sofa wishing they were happier. Comparison is a never-ending cycle that leads to discontent and unhappiness.

For life satisfaction, stop looking at everyone else’s success. Instead, focus on your own journey and progress. Celebrate your unique strengths, accomplishments, and growth.

Being aware of the good things in your life is an easy way to increase your happiness. Reflect on your blessings, such as supportive relationships, personal achievements, and simple joys. Be grateful for what you have, and love yourself for who you are!

6. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness trains your mind to be present in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

The best part is that there are many ways to introduce mindfulness into your life. It doesn’t require any special equipment or a significant time commitment.

Some people enjoy mindfully taking a sip of tea, while others mindfully wash the dishes! This is an excellent trick to learning how to be happy with what you have rather than searching for new sources of happiness.

By fully immersing yourself in the present moment, you appreciate the simple pleasures and find joy in everyday activities.

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. Allow yourself to fully experience the moment’s sensations, sounds, and emotions without judgment.

You can also try labeling your thoughts. For example, if you think, “I can’t do this,” label that thought as “negative.” Don’t get attached to the negative thought; simply let it go. This practice helps you become more aware of your thought patterns and learn to observe them without getting caught up in them.

The key to mindfulness 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!

woman meditating outside

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.’

happy family eating a meal

Creating a sense of hygge at home is a wonderful way to feel happy. Simply introduce a few cozy things into your life! 

Consider following these ideas:

  • Light a candle and enjoy watching the flame dance. The soft, warm glow creates a calming and inviting atmosphere. Take a moment to appreciate the simple beauty of the flickering light.
  • Practice togetherness in your family and with friends. Spend quality time engaging in heartfelt conversations, sharing meals, or playing games. Foster a sense of connection and belonging.
  • Wear comfortable clothing, and choose clothes that make you feel good. Opt for soft, cozy fabrics that provide warmth and comfort. Surround yourself with textures that bring you joy and relaxation.

Now that you know about the charming concept of hygge, you’ll find it hard not to be happy where you are! Incorporate hygge into your daily life and experience the joy and contentment it brings.

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. We often dwell on past mistakes, criticize ourselves, or worry about future uncertainties.

But there are ways you can change these negative thought patterns.

One powerful technique is to start your day with positive affirmations or mantras. These are short, uplifting statements that you repeat to yourself to cultivate a positive mindset. For example, you might say, “I am worthy of love and happiness,” or “I choose to focus on the good in my life.”

Take a few minutes each morning to sit quietly and repeat your chosen mantras to live by. You can say them out loud or silently to yourself. As you repeat these positive statements, visualize yourself embodying their meaning. Feel the emotions of love, happiness, and gratitude flowing through you.

Another helpful practice is to end your day with reflection. Take a few moments before bed to reminisce about your day. Go over what you did that day, and most importantly, think about the good bits! Reflect on the moments that brought you joy, the accomplishments you achieved, or the connections you made.

Over time, you’ll build up a bank of happy memories that you can draw upon when you’re feeling down. These positive recollections remind you of the good in your life and help shift your focus away from negative thoughts.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself engaging in negative thinking. We all do it! It’s a natural human tendency, but it’s important to recognize when it happens and take steps to reframe your thoughts.

Notice when you do it, and with some self-awareness and self-compassion, let any negative emotions fade away. Acknowledge the negative thought without judgment, then gently redirect your attention to something positive or neutral. You might find it helpful to have a go-to list of happy memories or things you’re grateful for to shift your focus.

By consistently practicing these techniques, you’ll develop a more positive mindset. 

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 happier, 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.

stack of neatly folded beige towels

This example shows that true happiness comes from within, not from material goods. When we have fewer possessions, we have less to worry about, less to maintain, and more space for the things that truly matter.

Once you realize that happiness doesn’t come from owning more stuff, your happiness will surely soar! And when you’re feeling happy, the rest will fall into place.

For a quick fix, try organizing your wardrobe. Throw out anything you haven’t worn in the past year (unless it’s something you genuinely have yet to have the opportunity to wear, like a ski suit). Be ruthless in decluttering, keeping only the items that bring you joy and serve a purpose.

When you finish, step back and notice how much nicer it is to look at your clothes. This is a great trick to feeling happier. 

Seeing less clutter in your living space will make you feel calmer and happier. This is a simple way to be happy with what you have (or rather, what you don’t have)! Apply this principle to other areas of your home, such as your kitchen, bathroom, or workspace. Create a peaceful and organized environment that supports your well-being.

Another trick is to post less on social media.

Notifications can bring us a surge of happiness, 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. By reducing your dependence on social media validation, you create space for more genuine sources of happiness and contentment.

10. Do Something Good for Yourself Every Day

As human beings, we often focus on the needs of others. While that’s not necessarily bad, 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! It’s impossible to please everyone, and trying to do so can lead to burnout and neglecting your own needs.

Every day, show yourself self-compassion and spend time doing something that makes you happy. Prioritize activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment.

You might enjoy engaging in fun solo activities or curling up with a good book.

Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you like. When you make yourself a priority, your happiness will flourish.

woman painting in a notebook

Final Thoughts

Now, it’s up to you to learn how to be happy where you are.

We’ve examined some great ways to foster happiness and learn 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!


To maintain these good habits, remember to download the Do Happy App. The app provides daily reminders, inspiration, and tools to support your happiness journey. It’s a simple way to keep your motivation and momentum going as you learn to be happy with what you have.

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