Happiness is, in a way, infinite. There is no end game or final destination when it comes to attaining joy in life. It’s an endless game, and you can only hope to reach a place you can call happy as many times as you can in your life. Joy is, of course, highly subjective, and it manifests differently for all of us. However, there are several time-tested practices and rituals that you can learn and apply with consistency that will inevitably increase the joy in your life or, at least, improve the likelihood for you to get there.
The Elusive Happiness
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have never stopped looking for happiness. Philosophers across borders and centuries have tried to define the concept and understand what it means. To some extent, they all found an answer, but, to another extend, neither one of them did because happiness is simply too complex. This is not to say that complex concepts cannot be defined; I’m talking about a definition that could be dumbed down for us, mortals, in a straightforward way—I haven’t found one that covers all bases.
Happiness, for one, is not a thing. It’s not a palpable object you can hold in your hand and never let go once you obtain it. Happiness is a lot of different things, but, most of all, it’s a feeling. It’s not the object, activity, or person that makes you feel happy; instead, it’s the mere way that you feel when happiness finds a way in your heart.
Some people need a lot of stimuli to feel happy, while others need very little. Moreover, some can stay in that place of happiness for a prolonged period, while for others, the moment is fleeting. Therefore, the lifelong chase for happiness does not stop at finding it but also at its quality, intensity, and duration.
As you can imagine, with so many dimensions, happiness is not only difficult to quantify or qualify but also almost impossible to define. What makes me happy might make you sad, and vice-versa. So, then, how can one even attempt to figure out how to be satisfied?
Well, don’t despair. There is an answer, although—and I know this is disappointing—that answer doesn’t involve a map with an X where you can dig out happiness and keep it forever. Instead, it involves several practices that have been shown to increase the happiness in your life when practiced consistently. So, these rituals are not short-term fixes or magical finger-snaps that can turn you happy overnight. They’re not some comedy routines that will get you laughing your ass off for an hour and then go away.
Instead, these are slow, steady rituals you must apply day after day to ensure you’ll see an improving trend in the quality of your life, which will then increase your life’s happiness overall.
The Power of Rituals
Since we talked about rituals already, let me touch on why they are so critical to your happiness and joy. The power of habits has been studied heavily over the past few decades. For example, in his bestselling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear writes, “success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
Charles Duhigg, an expert in habits and rituals, writes in his book, The Power of Habit, “If you believe you can change—if you make it a habit—the change becomes real.”
So, if habits define who we are, I asked myself the question, are there any habits that can make us happier? Is there anything that we can consistently do to increase that elusive joy in our lives?
I began reading all the research I could find on the subject. I identified several ideas that I immediately began to practice and experiment with to see where they’d take me. So here we are, a few years later, and I can say that I firmly believe that when you start applying these consistently, you will see an immediate improvement in the joy in your life. And when I say immediate, I mean… it will take some time and some organization.
I recommend starting with one or two habits and implement those first. Then, slowly introduce more. Within a year, you should be able to implement all of them in your life. Once you have, I guarantee you’ll see a significant improvement in your happiness and joy in life. Moreover, you will create a platform upon which you can continue to build and create more happiness, fulfillment, and overall satisfaction for you and those around you.
Let us take a journey together and see what these practices are.
Annual Practices for a Happier Life
You can think of the year as a time for significant changes. A year is long enough to contain many things, which is why we think of it as the longer-term view. Here are some practices you can add on an annual basis to improve the happiness in your life.
Yearly review and reflection
One critical part of everyone’s life is a life vision and a goal-based plan to attain that vision. The plan spans your life, but it needs to be adjusted every year after a session or more of self-reflection and review. During this time, you must reevaluate where you are, what you have accomplished and what you have not, and what new things have appeared in your life since the last time.
An annual review is a critical piece of keeping your life on track, ensuring that you are still true to your life’s purpose, and working relentlessly toward your vision.
This review will also center you and realign you with your vision allowing you to internalize the gratitude for what you have done and get more excited and motivated for what the future has to bring. It will create an elevated level of clarity which will be the perfect ground for your happiness and joy to flourish.
Reevaluate and realign goals
Once you review and reflect, you must also reevaluate and realign your goals for the year to come. That will ensure that you are still working toward your priority goals, and those goals align with your values and are congruent with your purpose. You must reassess if your priorities have shifted and if your assessment about your ability to complete your goals needs a revision.
Life moves fast, and often things outside of your control can shift your environment massively. You need to be aware and also conscient of the fact that you can only act upon those things which you can control. Therefore, every year, you need to reevaluate those goals and make new, adjusted plans to accomplish them.
You may need to change your job, sell your house, fire your accountant, or take a well-deserved trip to a beach island. Or you might not need to change anything and keep going the same route. Either way, that realization needs to be intentional and driven by your current circumstances.
Take care of yourself
Last but not least, you must take special care of your body once a year. That is not to say that you must not take care of yourself daily. What I mean by this is an overhaul of your health that you cannot do and shouldn’t do more often than once or twice a year because it wouldn’t be practical.
It means seeing your primary doctor for a well-visit, your dentist for deep cleaning, and any other specific specialists treating you for different ailments. Depending on your age, you may need to do other procedures such as colonoscopies, mammograms, or ultrasounds. At least once a year, you should get a complete blood and urine test and anything else your doctor recommends.
Annually, you need to get a clean bill of health from your doctors. That will not only ensure that you won’t have any surprises, but it will also provide you with the peace of mind you need to enjoy your life.
Monthly Practices for a Happier Life
Giving is inherently gratifying and not because you’re stroking your ego but simply because you contribute and because it’s part of your mission. This area is where the concept of happiness gets a bit fuzzy. For me, life fulfillment is an inherent part of the happiness and joy of life.
Simon Sinek once said, “if you want to feel happy, do something for yourself. If you want to feel fulfilled, do something for someone else.”
That is true, and it plays out precisely into my point. To enjoy life to the fullest, you need to feel happy and fulfilled. That means that you need to take care of yourself and your needs and take care of others and their needs as well.
Your contribution is a significant addition to your life’s happiness, and it can be as narrow or broad as you want to make it.
There are some prominent places where you help all the time, such as your immediate family (kids, spouse, parents, siblings), your friends and co-workers, and neighbors.
But to get even more out of it, it’s a great idea to expand that horizon and help others outside of that close circle. It could be by donating something to charity, participating in a fundraiser, donating your time and energy to a shelter, or otherwise getting involved in voluntary charity work.
By doing so, you’ll increase the level of fulfillment in your life, you’ll feel a stronger sense of purpose or WHY, and therefore, you will feed the joy in your life.
Although this should be obvious, it’s often the one thing that we all tend to forget as we get caught up in the busyness of our lives.
If you find yourself often giving a lot, you’ll feel an elevated level of fulfillment. But, when you forget to take care of yourself, you’ll find it harder and harder to internalize that fulfillment over time. That’s because your resources are also limited, and you need to feed yourself before you can feed others.
That is not an argument for being selfish. Taking care of yourself is not selfishness; it’s a responsibility. Before you can help others, you need to be in a good place yourself—mentally, physically, and emotionally—to support others in the right way and with the appropriate energy.
So, every month, do the things that make you happy. Maybe it’s a day at the spa, a few hours at the nail salon, or playing golf with your friends. Maybe it’s dancing, reading, or singing. Once or twice a month, fill up your cup.
Whatever it is, make sure you schedule it and don’t forget about it; don’t put it at the bottom for when you have some free time. To be effective, this needs to be deliberate and planned with intent. It can’t be an “if” after everything else. It must be a priority because guess what? You are a priority.
Weekly Rituals for a Happier Life
Our lives get increasingly complicated each day. With that complexity, we keep accumulating stuff; stuff we need, stuff we want, stuff we like, and everything else in between. Then we get more stuff to put on top of the old stuff. Soon enough, we’re living surrounded by piles of stuff. By the way, when I say stuff, I mean physical, mental, and emotional. There are piles and piles of that stuff to the point where there’s no place for us even to live our lives.
Decluttering your life is a fantastic way to refresh and reset yourself while keeping your environment organized. Getting rid of old things and cleaning your surroundings are excellent ways to rejuvenate your life. The cleaner and more organized your life is, the better it will foster an environment where happiness can thrive.
Every time you declutter yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally, you remove layers that stand in the way of your happiness and joy in life.
See friends and family
Often, we all get so caught up in our work, bills, and to-do lists, that we start living in a bubble. We isolate in an attempt to get this done, and then that done, and then, when we’re done with all of that, we can finally come out in the world.
But the reality is, you never seem to get to that end. It’s like a mountain peak followed by another peak and then another peak and then another. To avoid this, you need to reconnect with the people you love and care about. You can do so by arranging weekly visits to your friends and family, or you can invite them over to your house.
Connecting with the people you love strengthens the bond and brings happiness not only in your life but in their lives as well.
Weekly and daily planning
The one sure thing that introduces anxiety and frustration into your life is uncertainty about the future. Of course, uncertainty will always exist, and it will manifest mainly in places where you lack control. But there are other areas of your life where you do have control, and allowing too much uncertainty in those areas is the same as inviting stress to come in.
If you enter a week or a day without knowing what your priorities are and what you want to accomplish, the chances of you feeling happy are left one hundred percent to chance, and that’s not the best way to organize your life. Perhaps once in a while, you’ll be lucky, but we’re not interested in that type of haphazard joy. You want sustainable happiness, and for that, you need to replace the fog with clarity.
When you sit down at the beginning of each week and day and ask yourself, what are my priorities, you give yourself a chance to happiness. Then, of course, you need to act and do something to complete those plans, but the sheer fact that you make yourself a plan ensures that you have clarity, and clarity breeds happiness.
That’s why a weekly plan before the week starts and a weekly review at the end of it are paramount for your life’s happiness. The same thing goes for your daily plan and review.
Neither one of them have to take hours. After you’ve practiced this enough, you’ll be able to plan your weeks and days within minutes. Those minutes will be well spent and an excellent investment toward your happiness and joy in life.
Last but not least is stress. No matter what you do or how you do it, stress will find ways to creep into your life. It’s inevitable, so much so that you should prepare yourself to be stressed. That means that you’ll anticipate that there will be stress in your life and accept it as a normal part of life.
That’s why it’s so critical to figure out ways to prevent and relieve yourself from stress. Stress will act as a hindrance to your joy of life and general happiness. Left unchecked for too long, stress will eventually make you unable to feel happiness or notice the joy in life.
You can try many practices, but some of the best are mindfulness meditation, yoga, or good-old physical exercise. Find out what works for you and make sure that you implement those practices consistently in your life day after day.
Live and Maintain a Happier Life
After practicing these rituals for several years, I firmly believe that they work great if maintained consistently. The true joy in life is not just happiness and not just fulfillment. It’s a bit of each, all the time. It’s also not just luck or something borrowed from other people. You can create your happiness or, at least, do the best that you can to invite it into your life.
If you start applying these patterns in your life and continue to be persistent with them, you’ll start feeling it. Happiness and fulfillment will crawl under your skin little by little. Then, after a while, they’ll stay, and you’ll begin to feel that deep life joy that you’ve so yearned.
As you can see, none of these practices are paradigms or super-complicated mind shifts. Instead, they are apparent yet elusive, and they work because they’re simple. They’re easy, but they’ll still require time and commitment from you.
So, which one will you add to your life first?
Whichever one it is, I commend you for trying and wish you the best on your way to happiness!
Other Resources on Living a Happier Life
- How to Create Joy Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life
- 7 Ways to Create More Joy in Your Life
- Exactly How to Find Joy Today–and Every Day
- 12 Incredible Ways to Add Joy to Your Life
Now, before you go, I have…
3 Questions For You
- What are some of your practices that you feel give you joy and happiness?
- Which one of the practices suggested in this article resonated with you the most?
- What are some things that always bring joy and happiness into your life?
Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!
Hi there! I’m Iulian, and I want to thank you for reading my article. There’s a lot more if you stick around. I write about personal development, productivity, fiction writing, and more. Also, I’ve created Self-Growth Journey, a free program that helps you get unstuck and create the beautiful life you deserve. Enjoy!