Happiness is a Skill: 3 Tips on How to Be Happy

March 17, 2022

Each month, approximately 38,000 people perform a web search for the following: "how to be happy." I don't know about you, but that tells me a few things ….

First, the weight of the last few years has taken its toll and we're looking to feel better again.

Second, many of us believe that happiness is something we just feel or something that happens to us.

I recently read a book titled Operation Happiness by Kristi Ling, and it is truly a game changer in how you view the concept of happiness and, honestly, your overall outlook on life.

In it, she discusses how happiness is a skill that can be cultivated, learned, and mastered—you just have to follow her three steps! Curious? I was, and I was amazed at how effective they were both at improving perceive happiness and overall wellness!

So, I’d like to share a bit more with you about what the science shows regarding happiness and your health and then review Ling’s three steps. Come along with me and discover the answer to the common search for “how to be happy.”

How to be happy - Dr. Pingel

How to be happy - Dr. Pingel


The Relationship Between Happiness and Your Health

Think back to the last time you were truly happy. Now, ask yourself if you recall the state of your health.

Odds are that you either remember feeling great or you don’t recall (because we have a tendency to only focus on our health when something is wrong).

You may be surprised to learn that scientists have studied the concept of being happy for years. And their findings aren’t all the surprising: Being happy is directly linked to improved health and lower mortality risk. [1]

Interestingly, the opposite appears to be true as well, with researchers noting that “impaired happiness” is directly linked to an increased risk of developing disease! [2]

Now, you may be thinking, But Dr. Pingel, I can’t control how happy I feel.

I hear you, and I understand—because we’ve been lead to believe that happiness is simply a feeling or something that happens to you.

But what if we are wrong? What if your state of happiness is completely within your control because it something that you do?

As I mentioned above, this is the very message of Kristi Ling’s book, Operation Happiness. She shares her journey about how she discovered happiness is actually a skill. And what do we know about skills?

They aren’t something we’re inherently born with, like a gift. Instead, skills can be cultivated, learned, and even mastered!

Now, I won’t go into all the details about how Ling discovered this (you’ll need to get her amazing paradigm-shifting book to find that out!), but I because happiness and health are so intertwined, I want to share with you her three steps to practicing and mastering the skill of happiness.

We’ve all had a rough couple of years, so if we can incorporate three steps into our daily routines to support our overall health and well-being and also get the answer to how to be happy, that’s worth exploring! So, let’s dive in!


How to Be Happy: The Operation Happiness Approach

Wondering how to be happy? Here are the three steps outlined by Kristi Ling for mastering the skill of happiness.

1. Change your view.

To discover how to be happy, you have to practice the skill of happiness–and this requires a change in the way you view happiness. Here’s what Ling has to say:

“ The skill of happiness—just like playing an instrument—is made up of many facets and habits we can learn. Embracing and following this simple idea is profoundly life-changing …. Happiness is the required skill for living our very best life that they forgot to teach us in school.”

According to Ling, “this one astonishing concept is the missing link that’s been holding so many back from creating the happiness they desire.”

So, if we begin to think of happiness as an action—something we actively do—then it changes our entire approach in our journey on how to be happy.

Ling goes on to share specific tips and tools that you can use and implement right away to help make this perspective shift. So, if you find that you’re having trouble changing your view, pick up a copy of the book for some actionable advice to get you started.

2. Make over your mornings.

That leads us to step two on how to be happy: making over your mornings to be fun, energizing, and empowering.

In Operation Happiness, Ling shares the following:

“The way you start your day creates the foundation for it—and your life. Changing your mornings to be more healthful, positive, and supportive is the single biggest shift you can make to create a happier life.”

Makes sense, right? We’ve discussed the importance of bedtime routines before because they promote better sleep, which can set the tone for your entire day.

But Ling found through her own experience that changing your mornings by incorporating small yet powerful shifts in your routine can “set the foundation for happier, more successful, incredibly dynamic days–day after day.”

Perhaps you can think of your own subtle shifts to make that could help you make progress in your efforts to answer the question of “how to be happy.” But if you need some guidance, Ling offers just that.

One of her tips is to “set an intention.” Simply stating out loud a specific positive task or accomplishment that you intend to do or achieve that day is a great way to begin your day.

She also outlines the top 10 happiness-boosting foods backed by research. (Hint: Avocado, a personal favorite of mine, made the list thanks to its rich omega-3 properties!)

By incorporating these foods into your breakfasts in a regular rotation, you’ll be supporting your whole well-being, which, as we discussed above, goes a long way in supporting happiness.

3. Create new habits.

Finally, the last step in your journey for how to be happy is to create new habits.

Think of it this way: In order to master the skill of happiness, you must first make your new practices habits. Otherwise, you won’t do them regularly enough to master the skill!

According to Ling, “Our habits drastically impact the way we experience life.” As such, Operation Happiness outlines the top 11 habits of the happiest people and then explains how to adopt theses habits yourself.

While I’ve made a point to incorporate each of her habits into my daily routine, I’ll share a few of my favorites:

#2. Prioritize mindfully.

#3. Keep resources on hand to create an instant uplift.

#6. Don’t make things personal.

#9. Be aware of your energy.

Personally, I take time each morning to think through my day and consider what my priorities are and how I can best tackle them. I’ve found that creating a doable to-do list is key.

But, as we all know, days get busy and hectic, so one key takeaway for how to be happy even on harder, more challenging days is to utilize habit #3.

Keeping positive affirmations around me is a great way to stay in the happiness mindset. And it encourages me to practice even more happiness habits.

The result? I’m less likely to take things personally and more likely to radiate positive energy to others, which, in turn, fuels my happiness as well!

So, what do you think? Are you ready to learn how to be happy by changing your perspective on happiness and treating it as a skill you can cultivate, learn, and even master?

Join me on social media each Friday during my live chats and we can encourage one another as we practice happiness in our daily lives and reap the rewards for our health!

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