Rules for a Happy Life

Rules for a Happy Life (How to Foster Happiness)

We all want to lead happy lives. Happiness is a universal yearning, and everyone can achieve it. Sometimes, it’s easier when you have some guidelines to follow.

We’ve set some basic rules for a happy life to help you start on your path to a happier life. These rules will teach you how to foster happiness no matter what your present situation is. Read on!

Rules for a Happy Life

Do What You Love

The first rule for a happier life is to do more of what you love. This sounds simple, but it can be challenging. You might be pretending to be happy in your job or relationship. It’s time to get honest with yourself! 

We all make excuses for not following our passions in life, don’t we? We think we don’t have the time, money, or energy to do the things we love. The truth is, none of this is actually true. If you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen.

Remember when you were a child and could just be yourself, no matter what? It’s time to get back to that.

happy kid holding a book

Do you love cooking, writing, or painting? Maybe you want to learn a new language or skill. The important thing is to take action, however small, and do something that brings you joy.

List the activities that light you up and give you a sense of fulfillment. Then, carve out dedicated time each week to engage in those activities, even if it’s just an hour. Prioritize them the same way you would any other important commitment. Over time, look for ways to integrate more of what you love into your daily life and career.

If you need to figure out what your passions are, ask your inner child what it wants to do. What did you love doing as a kid that you’ve lost touch with? What are you curious to learn more about? Let your intuition guide you. There is something out there that you have a deep desire to pursue – figure out what it is and then make it happen!

Do Less of What You Don’t Love

This is sometimes easier said than done. If your current job or hobbies are no longer fulfilling, they can impede your quest for happiness.

You are the only person who can decide what is right or wrong for you. Stop comparing your lifestyle to others’ and start living in a way that makes sense for you. Love yourself enough to let go of what is holding you back.

Take an honest look at how you spend your time and energy. What drains you? What feels like an obligation rather than a joy? Start setting boundaries around those things. Say no to commitments that don’t serve you. Delegate tasks someone else can handle. If your job makes you miserable, develop an exit plan and explore other options.

It may be time for a career change, a switch to a different team or department, or having a direct conversation with your boss about your needs and goals. A new and engaging hobby to replace ones you’ve outgrown can reinvigorate you. 

Do less of what you don’t love, and you’ll free up more time and energy to invest in what matters most to you. When you pursue your own happiness, life begins to look much brighter.

man playing the guitar

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

One of the golden rules for living a happier life is to practice gratitude. There are many things to be grateful for, but sometimes, you need to do some soul-searching to discover them.

Are you in good health? That’s something to be grateful for. Are you in a loving relationship? That is also something to be thankful for. Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Those are immense blessings that many people yearn for. 

Even if all you can think of is being thankful for being alive, expressing appreciation promotes a sense of contentment and hope.

Let Thankfulness Become a Habit

Appreciate the positive things in your life, and you will start noticing more and more things to be grateful for. Make a habit of saying thank you, even for the little things. Too often, we take our blessings for granted.

Learn to thank people, even when they are just doing their job by serving you. Write thank-you notes to loved ones. Start a gratitude journal and jot down a few things you’re grateful for daily. Use an app designed for happiness, such as the Do Happy App. Never let a day go by without thanking someone for something.

"thank you" written in multiple languages

To build your gratitude muscles, try keeping a gratitude list. Each day, write down 3 to 5 things you’re thankful for, from your morning coffee to a kind smile from a stranger. Over time, your mind will start scanning for the good in every situation. You can also express gratitude directly to people through a compliment, a hug, or a thoughtful note of appreciation.

Consider starting a tradition of Thankful Thursday in your life. Dedicate this day each week to focusing on gratitude. Take a few extra minutes to reflect on your blessings, big and small. Write a longer gratitude journal entry or send a heartfelt message of thanks to someone who has made a difference in your life. Encourage your friends and family to join you in this practice and share your gratitude. 

Ultimately, it’s not about who you thank or how you thank them. It’s about cultivating a spirit of thankfulness and letting it permeate your daily life. The more you practice gratitude, the more joy and contentment you’ll experience.

Don’t Live for Others, but Help Others

Understanding the difference between living for others and helping others live better lives unlocks a powerful key to happiness. 

An example of the latter is doing volunteer work for a charitable organization. A surefire way to introduce happiness into your life is to spread kindness to those in need.

Feel free to donate your time, skills, or financial resources to make a difference for others. But always do so for the right reasons. It’s not about earning accolades or posting on social media. It’s about the intrinsic rewards of giving and how it enriches your own life in the process.

Look for opportunities to volunteer for causes you care about. That could be serving meals at a local soup kitchen, tutoring underprivileged youth, or fostering a shelter animal. Or you may feel called to support a nonprofit by using your professional skills for pro bono work. Even small acts of kindness, like helping an elderly neighbor with their groceries or shoveling a friend’s snowy driveway, count.

Do you feel a sense of meaning and purpose knowing that you’ve made someone else’s life a little easier? If so, you’re on the right track to fostering greater happiness through generosity and compassion. Over time, you may find that some of your most fulfilling moments and relationships come from helping others.

Hang out With Happy People

One of the most basic rules for happiness is to surround yourself with positive people and their uplifting energy. Happiness is infectious! But so is negative energy.

Seek out people who inspire and encourage you. Join communities of individuals working towards making the world better. Attend events and gatherings filled with laughter and enthusiasm. Observe what happy people do differently and model those behaviors in your own life.

group of women enjoying a laugh

At the same time, set boundaries with negative influences. Be selective about who you spend your time with. This applies to both work and your personal life. True happiness is at your fingertips, but you might need to reassess some relationships. Look out for people who lift you up, not bring you down. These are the kind of people who will make you happy—and help you stay happy!

If there are toxic people in your life that you can’t avoid entirely, like certain coworkers or family members, limit your exposure to them. Be intentional about ending conversations that turn negative.

Refocus your attention on the positive people and influences around you. Nurture those relationships and watch your own happiness grow.

Be Kind to Yourself

Being kind to yourself means prioritizing your own well-being – mentally, physically, and spiritually. 

Self-care is essential to achieving happiness. Pamper yourself with massages, unwind with a good book, or take a yoga class. Do something special just for you, even if it’s a simple bubble bath and some quiet time.

Physical health is closely tied to emotional health, so make sure you are eating nutritious, balanced meals, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise. Spend time outdoors soaking up nature’s beauty. Get enough quality sleep. See the doctor and dentist for preventative check-ups. When you feel good physically, it’s easier to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook.

Being kind to yourself also means going easy on yourself. Limit negative self-talk and self-judgment. Learn to accept yourself, imperfections and all. Build yourself up with positive affirmations and focus on your strengths. 

Notice when your inner critic starts chattering, and consciously replace those thoughts with self-compassion. Talk to yourself like you would a cherished friend. Celebrate your wins, big and small. Let go of perfectionism and embrace the beautiful work in progress that you are.

woman with her hands in the shape of a heart

Make a conscious effort to stop worrying about things beyond your control. Practice mindfulness and staying grounded in the present moment. Do not be too hard on yourself for mistakes and missteps. Learn from them, but don’t let them define you or hold you back.

You will find more inner peace and genuine happiness when you are kind to yourself. You teach others how to treat you by how you treat yourself. Make self-kindness a daily practice and notice how your world changes.

Savor the Journey, Not the Destination

Our last rule for a happy life is perhaps the most important of all. You are postponing your happiness when you focus on external circumstances like career success, material possessions, or relationship status to bring you joy. What you have right here, right now, is enough. 

The present moment is where your power lies.

You may be focused on the “future happiness” of a job promotion, higher salary, new car, or dream vacation. But lasting happiness comes from learning to love the journey, not just the destination.

Be thankful for your job, which enables you to pay your bills and learn new skills that serve your goals. Delight in your current home and fill it with love, even if it’s not your ideal living space yet. Appreciate your current relationship’s growth opportunities, even if your partner isn’t perfect. Find joy in working towards your dreams, knowing that every small step matters.

Live In the Present

Living in the present moment allows you to access happiness right now, not someday in the future. Having goals and plans is great, but not at the expense of enjoying today.

You learn to appreciate the power of small wins and simple pleasures – a great cup of coffee, a clear blue sky, a child’s laugh, a warm embrace from a loved one. You stop and smell the roses. You celebrate the tiny victories along the way to your bigger accomplishments.

smiling woman smelling the roses

You stop ruminating on what you could have done differently in the past or worrying about what hasn’t happened yet. You forgive old hurts and refocus on the opportunities in front of you. You embrace each moment as a gift and live more intentionally.

You find joy and satisfaction in your personal growth and the richness of your journey. Happiness becomes a way of life, not a far-off destination. It’s right here, right now, ready for the taking.

Final Thoughts

Following these rules for a happy life will help you foster greater happiness. This list of rules is by no means exhaustive. It contains fundamental principles to help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. As you incorporate them into your daily routine, new possibilities of happiness will unfold.

Remember, only one person is in charge of your happiness – you! External factors can impact your state of mind, but you get to choose how you respond. Happiness is an inside job. It starts with you and ripples out to every corner of your life.

Being happy is a choice you get to make again and again, moment to moment. Choose to be happy!


Your happiness matters! For more articles to help you cultivate lasting happiness, visit the a little dose of happy blog.

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