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7 Simple Rules To Live By For A Happy Life

Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
May 15, 2015
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology
By Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology and life coach, helping ambitious, driven women achieve the financial, spiritual, and lifestyle abundance they desire and deserve. She holds a bachelor's in business from American University, and her master's and doctor of psychology degree from Ryokan College.
Photo by Getty Images
May 15, 2015

Do you ever feel stuck in negativity? Or are you one of those happy-go-lucky types who sees the silver lining in every situation? If you're in the latter category, high five to you, friend!

When I find myself stuck in a rut, I reach for a dose of gratitude. I try to focus on the simple things in my life that bing me joy, like the feeling of freshly dried towels or a hug from my husband.

Whatever happiness is to you, these seven strategies are sure to inspire greater happiness and well-being starting today!

1. Manage your energy, not your time.

You can't fully take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. And if you don’t master your body — i.e. your capacity to maximize your health, energy and vitality — all the career success, money or contribution in the world will be worthless.

Not sure where to start? Sketch a pie chart that represents your daily energy spent and notice where you're investing your energy. Is the majority of your precious energy spent by taking care of your children, work, problem-solving or stress over finances? Pay attention to how much time is spent on self-care. If there’s a deficit in this category, it’s time to prioritize you.

2. Focus on what you can add to your life — not what you "should" subtract.

This advice is often given for changing dietary habits: instead of cutting out certain foods (and thus feeling deprived), it's easier to start adding healthy foods. The idea is that, over time, the "good" foods will crowd out the less-desirable foods.

The same could be applied to almost any habit. For example, say my goal is to spend less time on social media. Instead of setting a time limit on tweeting, I could simply add in to my schedule some other activity that I enjoy!

This strategy also works well when it comes to avoiding judging myself. Rather than trying to stop being critical about myself, I can focus on adding more self-love and gratitude.

3. Practice letting go of wanting it so bad.

Isn't it crazy how we invest our happiness into things we may lose? The new iPhone, the relationship, the career, our beauty? I've been thinking a lot lately about the impermanence of our lives and notice that most of us rarely feel successful or satisfied or “finished.” There's always something else to check off the list that we presume will land us smack-dab in the middle of forever happiness.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how much you get, you're left wanting more. Ambivalence can help. Too often books and magazines tell us to cut out pictures of what we want, create vision boards and repeat it as a mantra to ourselves over and over again. Sure, it's great to get clarity on what you want. But maybe sometimes we want “it” too bad?

Try to care less. Don't let the pursuit of happiness become the source of unhappiness.

4. Practice compassion for yourself.

No human can be perfect all the time. Understand that you may not be able to give 100% every single day and that’s OK. Agree to do the best, to your best ability with each aspect of your day. You will be pleasantly surprised how much more successful you can be with this slight attitude adjustment.

5. Smile.

It's such a simple, powerful gesture, but many of us forget to smile. So the next time you have a headache, crack a smile instead of popping a pain killer. Research has shown that just the act of smiling can make you feel better.

6. Create an "inner circle" support group.

Spend your time with people who are moving in the direction that you want to go. Want to be your fittest, healthiest, tightest self, for example? Spend more time with your green-juice-drinking, outside-loving friends.

Put thought into creating a circle of people who uplift you, believe in the best of you, and share similar moral fiber. This just might be your most important step to achieving greater joy and making big things happen for you and those you love. And if you're not inspired by your circle, it may be time to consider a friend detox.

7. Have a feel good formula of healthy habits.

You'll never change anything in your life until you change what you do on a daily basis. Routines create consistency, which is an essential ingredient in creating a life you love. When you’ve hit a bump in the road, having “feel good” healthy habits will keep you on the right path.

Here are some of my go-tos to stay on track:

  • Close friends and mentors to be there when I am feeling overwhelmed
  • A morning meditation routine (10 minutes) that allows me to sink into my body + set healthy intentions for the day ahead
  • Workouts that I know I get results from and that make me feel good
  • Time to cozy up and engage in one of my favorite past times: reading
  • A refrigerator of delicious and nourishing foods. I pack a cooler for my car if I am visiting with clients all day

I hope these suggestions are helpful and inspiring. I would love to hear what works for you below!

Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. author page.
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology

Dr. Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology and life coach, helping ambitious, driven individuals achieve the financial, spiritual, and lifestyle abundance they dream about. She holds a bachelor's in business from American University, and her master's and doctor of psychology degrees from Ryokan College.

Dowling has spent years helping people live richer, more joyful lives. She has seen firsthand the magical pairing of psychology and life coaching, which allows people to access their happiest selves.