The degree to which life is nothing but a mind game will probably scare you more than anything. The reality is that our thoughts create our experiences, because our thoughts determine what we notice, how we think, and therefore, how we feel. "Happiness" then is not only a choice, but a decision. You have to want to choose happiness. You have to care enough about your life to hope that it can become more.
Happiness hacks, despite sounding like a consumerist marketing ploy, aren't just good for your mental and emotional wellbeing — they're essential. The reality is that we're not taught about emotional intelligence, we're not instructed on how to make the most of our lives (or, at the very least, survive them peacefully). Like any good lesson, the point is best applied through a series of applicable and easy-to-use tricks and tips: some you've heard, some you haven't, some you'll try, others you'll hopefully brush off only to create some tricks of your own.
Because at the end of the day, these are suggestions, not commandments. The real point of any teaching is not to create who you are, but to help you — guide you — to creating who you are on your own terms. Here, a few things to get you started, four happiness hacks that will have you feeling better this week:
Decide The Five Most Important Things You Need Or Want To Do
And focus on them solely. It should probably go something like this: feel comfortable in your skin, get work done on time, get enough sleep, make time for people > things. If the perfectly clean apartment or event you're only attending to appease someone else or a home cooked meal each night falls to the wayside, that's fine. You can focus on those things later. The point is that it's not ever going to be all perfect, but some of it can be. So rather than leaving what that "some" is up to chance, decide for yourself.
Don't Try To Feel Happy
This is something Aldous Huxley calls the law of reversed effort. When you try to tread water, you get tired and sink; when you try to let yourself "drown" you realize that you begin to float. The more you try to feel happy is the more you're coming up with reasons why you should be, ideas that will make you feel better, outcomes to get attached to. All of these things separate you from where happiness really is: in the moment.
Be Radically Honest — Even When You're Not Feeling Great
If you have some raging feeling toward someone or some completely devastating emotion comes over you, completely release it. Be honest about it. In accepting that you don't feel well, you'll find your real happiness, because you'll be able to process it that much more quickly. It's not negative emotions we don't like, it's resisting them (or anything).
Redefine Happiness For A Day
Decide that on Monday, every time you feel thankful for something, you're going to say to yourself: "I am happy for that." Tie a string to your finger and make it a point to do it as much as possible: I am thankful for my breakfast, for my bed, for my apartment, for my job. Whenever you think that, replace it with: "I am happy to have." (You'll realize you're happier than you think you are.)