21 Ways to Stop Chasing Happiness and Start Chasing Meaning

Chase happiness

Don’t chase happiness. That’s what you’ll find many articles on the topic will say, but perhaps that’s the wrong idea. Maybe we can chase it, if we do it in the right way.

Advertisements give us many ideas of what we’ll make us happy for profit. But scientific research gives us what’s actually proven to potentially help us be happy. And it’s often more about meaning than moments of joy.

With that said, here’s how to get happy in your life today

1. Replace the word “happy”

A study found that focusing too much on happiness can make us obsess over negative emotions when they inevitably come up. That can us more stress.

Ironically, people who allow themselves to feel their negative emotions, if you feel they’re right in the moment, can make you happier.

Instead focusing too much on having joy all the time, focus on another word to achieve in your life. Here are some examples you can consider:

  • Wellness
  • Inner-peace
  • Optimism
  • Contentment

2. Be present

A Psychology Today article notes that people who live in the moment tend to be happier. Be more present by practicing mindfulness.

Focus on what you’re seeing and feeling right now. It may help to slow down your mind and allow to enjoy some inner-peace.

3. Be more decisive

Researchers at Florida State University came up with a theory that those who are more decisive are happier than those who aren’t. I came up with a quote once on making decisions.

Once you’ve thought through things thoroughly, make your decision decisively.

Anecdotally, we can all think of a time where we gripped with uncertainty on what to do. Here’s something key to remember. You’re going to make the wrong decision sometimes.

But in general, it won’t be the end of the world. It’ll be lesson that you learn from, and make better decisions moving forward.

4. Small steps

Just taking a small step forward in reaching your goals daily has been proven to keep us motivated in pursuing them. Best of all, over time you’ll be amazed to see all of the progress you made.

5. Have joy before success

You would think achievements would give us joy, but in actuality, it’s the opposite. It turns out that having our own joy is what ends up leading to success.

It works this way because people who are more joyful tend to pursue new goals that reinforce their existing positive emotions. So don’t base your contentment on achievements.

Instead, create fulfillment within your life first. It will lead you to pursue goals that make you successful and even more joyful.

6. Cut out toxic relationships

Relationships are one of the most important aspects in our lives. Having bad ones in your life can have negative effects on your well-being.

Make your relationships matter by eliminating the ones that don’t make you feel good, and don’t make you a better person.

7. Nourish yourself

The human body is amazing. It does so much for us on a daily basis without much of our thought required. We ought to reward it by nourishing it well.

Make an effort to eat food that helps you feel well. More fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your mental and physical well-being.

Talk with your doctor about what other meals you can add to your diet to make you function better.

8. Eliminate stressors

Life is not meant to be so stressful all the time. If there are situations you can eliminate from your life that are extremely burdening to you, do it.

Too much stress can eventually be harmful to your physical well-being.

9. Break out of your comfort zone

Breaking out of your comfort zone can provide a lot of benefits to your life. It can make your more resilient in dealing with disappointment.

It can get you more comfortable with doing new things. Experiences are usually what we remember most when we look back on your time.

Create an adventure for yourself that you’ll be thankful to remember you did one day.

10. Gratitude

As I mentioned in my gratitude list article, research has shown that when we spend time being grateful for what we have in life, it helps us to be happier.

There are a lot of things you can probably think of right now that you’re thankful to have. If you’re having trouble, here are some examples.

You can be grateful for all of the parts of your body that work well. Go through each part individually in your mind. When you’re done with that, think about the shelter you have around you.

You can be thankful for your roof, your floors, your walls, and your windows.

Think about all of the other things you have, and perhaps more importantly, the people you have in your life that give you joy and peace. If you go about joyfulness in this way, you’ll likely feel it more often.

11. Altruism

We spend so much time thinking that getting things will make us happy, we don’t recognize how much giving can make us happy.

There have been studies that have shown when we give our time through volunteering, it can give us a good feeling afterwards.

Perhaps you can try to go to a homeless shelter to feed the hungry. Maybe you can go to a community center at tutor some kids.

Find a cause that you’re passionate about and donate your time and maybe your finances as well, then see how you feel. You might find that helps you be successful in having joyfulness.


12. Community

Even if you’re the most introverted introvert in the world, we all need people in our lives every now and then. A Harvard Study found that those who were the healthiest and happiest as they got older, were those who had warm relationships in their life.

These were people who had good relations with family, friends, or just connected to people within their communities. Particularly in western culture, we too often think that our joy hinges on achieving our individual goals.

While that’s true to some extent, it’s equally as true that you need relationships in your life. Spend more time creating warm and friendly connections with the people you have in your life.

If the people you have in your life aren’t the warmest and friendliest, then try to find people that are. I know that’s a little bit difficult right now, but there are many online communities of people with the same interests as you that you can talk to and connect with.

Good relationships will help you in having joy in your life.

13. Meet some new people

I’ll confess, I don’t have a study for you on this one. But anecdotally, meeting new people can add a lot of value to your life. One, the new people you meet could become some of the closest friends you’ve ever had in life.

Two, new people can potentially lead you to new opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise had. That’s the point of networking. Lastly, you enhance your social skills and learn more by meeting new people from different backgrounds.

14. Be in nature

So many studies have shown that being in nature can give us a sense of calm and peace. Remember, humans started out in nature.

Yes, it’s great we’ve developed comfortable homes and get places faster with cars and planes. But in a way, we’re meant to enjoy walking among the trees.

15. Sleep well

Your mind and body weren’t built to be constantly awake. Stanford researchers came to the conclusion that sleep helps to recharge us.

Keeping our energy levels balanced can better allow us to enjoy the life that we have.

16. Practice journaling

Journaling can be a great way to deal with emotions that are overwhelming you. It can also help you better process what you think and feel about your current reality.

You don’t have to do it everyday. In moments where you just really feel a lot inside of you, that can be your opportunity to let those feelings out.

17. Hug People

Obviously be sure you have that person’s consent, but hugging has been known to help lower our stress. Whenever I’ve hugged someone, I can’t explain it, but I felt a weird warmth inside.

I guess I say weird because I don’t hug people as often as I probably should. But there really is power in the human touch.

18. Tap into your creativity

I believe I’ve mentioned previously in another article that there was a documentary that talked about being in the zone making us feel good.

The idea is to really perform your best in a creative activity that you enjoy. When you’re dancing, playing an instrument, or doing any other creative activity, try that next time.

19. Enjoy animals

You probably don’t need a study to tell you this, but pets do make us feel pretty good. Maybe once in awhile you can enjoy petting a dog or cat.

You can get one as your own pet, or enjoy the ones your friends or family have.

20. Exercise

I’ve probably mentioned exercise in my past articles numerous times, and with good reason. Exercise really does help us to achieve more joyfulness.

We improve how we look physically, which can make us feel good, and we end up feeling in better shape, which helps us feel well emotionally.

You can read this article to get more of the science behind how exercise makes us happy. One way you can keep yourself motivated to exercise is finding one that you enjoy doing.

If you don’t like running, and you choose to commit yourself to running every day, what’s going to happen? You’ll probably stop running as often after a few days, and then you might stop exercising all together.

Instead of doing an exercise you don’t like, do one that you enjoy. Maybe you like dancing instead. If you do, then you can get in some cardio through doing dancing exercises.

Whatever type of movement you might enjoy, whether it’s kicking a soccer ball or playing tennis, do it often, and see if it helps you get the good feelings you desire.

21. Find Meaning

There’s a reason that religious people tend to be happy in life. As this Psychology Today article details, people noted that their religion gave them a sense of meaning in life, which helped them be happier.

I know not everyone is interested in joining a religion, but you can join a group that supports a cause or idea that’s meaningful to you.

If you’re a person who believes in environmental causes, join groups that work for those causes. Whatever gives you a sense of meaning in life, find ways to devote more of your time to it.

The more you spend time on these things that give you fulfillment, the more likely you’ll be going in the right direction in having more joy.


What won’t make you fulfilled in life

Materialism: If you pursue fulfillment through buying more expensive things, you’ll probably be left unsatisfied. Just think about all the things you’ve bought in your life that you don’t use anymore.

Unless the item you want to buy is something that will add meaning to your life, you’ll probably be left buying another thing to try to make you happy.

Pleasure seeking: Many of us have been guilty of thinking consistently pursuing pleasure was the way to have fulfillment. Whether it’s through food, drugs, or other pleasures in life, you’re never going to get enough of it to be happy.

In fact, you might get too much of it and it could lead to physical and emotional consequences that make you unhappier.

Inspiring video on joyfulness

Helpful articles on joyfulness

How to Start Your Day off Right and Be Happy

5 Ways Minimalism Life Can Make You Happy Right Now!

Digital Minimalism: How To Be Happy Cutting News and Social Media

Chase happiness

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