How to be Happy (Without Trying too Hard)

Finding contentment in life is easier than you think, says leading psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos

Here are some simple ways to rediscover a sense of joy and fulfilment, just by switching your mindset.

Laugh at life

Many naturally up-beat people share the same quality – they find
snatches of humour in daily life that others wouldn’t notice. When
you’re able to laugh at yourself, it shows you accept the real you,
along with your flaws. Re-train yourself to think like an optimist and
find little things to laugh at every day.

Value yourself beyond your looks
Whatever your age, it’s always dangerous to invest too much self-worth
in your looks, which will of course evolve over time. Instead focus on
your successes at work, what a brilliant parent or friend you are or
your talent for dancing/interior design/listening. From an early age,
teach your daughters to value qualities other than beauty too. Remember
not just to compliment them on how pretty they look, but also to mention
their intellect or great friendship skills too. Help them develop an
inner confidence that will stand the test of time.

Don’t dwell on the past
Research shows too much rumination can lead to depression, so don’t
over-analyse past events. One of my favourite sayings is: there are only
two things to worry about:
1. Things you can fix – in which case, fix them.
2. Things you can’t fix – in which case, stop worrying about them!
So your boss insults you in front of your team, you can choose to:
1. Try to fix it by telling him, ‘Next time I’d really appreciate
it if you could speak to me about this in private.’
2. Accept you can’t change him and decide to brush off his comment
and get on with your day.

Define your own success
Look at where your goals in life stem from and come up with your own
definition of success. So you’re busy climbing the career ladder but not
truly happy? Maybe you’ve been brought up to believe your value lies in
earning a big salary. Take a step back and ask yourself, ‘What really
brings me pleasure in daily life?’ Perhaps you don’t want to go for that
big promotion after all and instead need more balance in your life.
Maybe your own vision of success shows a calmer, less stressed you with
time for the hobbies you love. Make space for the things you really

Forget the word ‘should’
We’re so caught up in everything we ought to be doing in life, than our
sense of fun can often go out the window. Next time you find yourself
thinking, ‘I must’, take a step back and challenge that thought. Do you
have to go to the PTA meeting this evening? Or do you have clean the
house all Saturday morning? Why not give yourself a break and have some
me-time instead? Tune back into life’s simple, unexpected pleasures.


‘Unfollow: Living Life on Your Own Terms’ By Dr Linda Papadopoulos
(£9.99, Piatkus) is out now.

Share this post:

Receive our editor's picks weekly to your inbox