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Roadmap to Happiness - Ten Happy Habits

by Liggy Webb(more info)

listed in personal growth, originally published in issue 193 - April 2012

Life is what YOU make it!
If you want to be happy then you have that choice; consciously making the decision to be happy is the first thing to do. Having been involved with research on the very intangible and elusive concept of happiness for many years, I have come to the resounding conclusion that happiness is not out there! We all have the ability to be happy; if we don't feel it then we need to get into the happy habit. It may not be possible to be happy all the time; however if we take a more positive view on life then we can wake the happiness up within us more often!

Happy Image

Here are Ten Happy Habits to keep you on track

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1 - Take Personal Responsibility
Taking personal responsibility for your life is key. Here are a few pointers to you on your road map:

  • The first step to happiness is simply to choose to be happy - You have that choice and opportunity;
  • You get out of life what YOU put into it;
  • In finding happiness for others, you will find it for yourself;
  • Be kinder than you have to be;
  • Be tough-minded, but tender-hearted;
  • Never pass up the opportunity to tell someone you love them or to rescue a friend in need;
  • Love unconditionally. Laugh uncontrollably. Smile endlessly. Live limitlessly;
  • Find your sense of purpose and be comfortable in your own skin;
  • Remember mistakes aren't mistakes at all, merely learning experiences - the stepping stones to strength and mastery;
  • Anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else - you are the one who ends up getting burned;
  • Finding humour in any situation is your ultimate key to happiness;
  • You can never truly appreciate the light if it doesn't ever get dark. If you want to see the rainbows you need to put up with the rain!
  • We have 60,000 - 80,000 independent thoughts a day, so start to think about what you think about and feed yourself positive thoughts!

2 - Be Fit For Life
Health and well being is not about occasional intention it is about being fit for life .Here are a few useful and simple tips:

  • Eat a balanced diet - "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper". Remember your five fruit and vegetables a day;
  • Energy in - Energy out - Faddy diets do not work! A healthy diet for life is by far the best approach. Most men need about 2500 calories a day and most women about 2000 calories a day. If you exercise, you can eat more. It really is a simple mathematical equation when it comes to losing or putting on weight: calories that you consume versus calories you expend;
  • Cut down on sugar - Refined sugar has 90% of its vitamins and minerals removed. Without sufficient vitamins and minerals, our metabolism becomes inefficient, contributing to poor health and weight management issues. Sugar can also compromise your immune system;
  • Exercise - Buy a pedometer and get walking. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise: walking 10,000 steps a day is great for the heart and mind and can have the same effect, according to research, as a mild antidepressant;
  • Drink two litres of water a day - Water is liquid energy and, in my opinion, has magical properties! Both mental and physical performance is affected when the brain is only 3% dehydrated;
  • Alcohol - It is important to stick to the government guidelines, which indicate 2 small units a day for women and 3 small units for men;
  • Caffeine - Avoid too much tea or coffee. A recommended amount is no more than two cups of coffee or three cups of tea. You can drink as much herbal tea as you like. Green tea is great for energy. Do beware fizzy drinks - some are loaded with caffeine and artificial sweeteners;
  • Quality sleep - The quality of your sleep is so important, and a good 6-8 hours is recommended. Avoid caffeine or any stimulants before you go to bed. A cup of camomile tea can be very good for promoting sleep, too.

Happiness Take Responsibility Image
Happiness Take Responsibility Image

3 - Be The Best You Can Be
What do you see when you look in the mirror? What is your opinion of yourself? Are you appreciative of all your strengths and qualities, or do you beat yourself up on a regular basis about all your misgivings, mistakes and weaknesses? If it is the latter, I am sure that you would not consciously treat anyone else, let alone your best friend that way, so why do we do it to ourselves? Why are we sometimes our own worst enemy?

Lack of self-appreciation is one of the reasons people become depressed. Appreciating yourself is the most important component of self-love. However that sounds, it is hugely important, because if we don't love ourselves, why would we even begin to expect anyone else to? People who appreciate themselves usually have a good heart and are full of optimism. They love and appreciate the gifts that they have bestowed upon them. They feel comfortable in themselves and are known for their generosity and tolerance.

We have to take responsibility for being the best that we can be. So often we will compare ourselves to others, and if we do this, we run the danger of engendering two emotions: one of vanity or one of bitterness, because there will always be people we see as better or worse off than ourselves. It is also pointless to benchmark ourselves against others - using ourselves as our own benchmark is far more constructive. Strive to be the best YOU can be.

4 - Be Present
If you're too busy dwelling on the past or thinking about the future, you won't be able to fully appreciate the moment and notice all the good things around you. Also, dwelling on the past and thinking about the future opens the door to comparison, which is the only way you can perceive something as not good enough. What you have now is all that exists, and comparing that to something that doesn't exist anymore (or yet) is an easy way to foster dissatisfaction.

Research indicates that living in the moment can make people happier, because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future. If you hoist yourself into the awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away. Savouring the here and now forces you into the present, so you can't worry about things that aren't there.

5 - Embrace Change
Embracing change is one the most powerful skills that we can cultivate especially considering how modern life seems to be constantly twisting and turning and evolving sometimes at a speed that can be hard to cope with. Here are a few tips to help you when you are making changes and creating new habits:  

Be positive about change - You never know how fantastic the new experience may be and as one door closes another will open - just make sure you face the door that is opening. If the change doesn't feel fantastic, then maybe it is an opportunity to learn something and it will make you stronger!

6 - Manage Stress
Stress, despite the dangers, does also bring some benefits. We all need a certain amount of pressure in our lives to galvanise us into action; 'healthy stress' can be productive and act as a motivator. However, too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress disorders, which are unhealthy for the mind and body.
Stress Management - Useful Tips

  • Exercise is one of the very best ways to reduce stress;
  • Breathing exercises will reduce stress immediately;
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol - Drink water!
  • Focus on simplicity and do one thing at a time;
  • Know your own limits; don't expect too much of yourself;
  • Talk to someone and discuss constructive ways to deal with stress;
  • Study and learn time-management techniques;
  • Try to spend time with people who are positive;
  • Use visualization techniques;
  • Find time for relaxation;
  • Explore alternative therapies;

7 - Bounce Ability
Personal resilience and the ability to bounce back from really challenging situations is so important. Here are some tips to help you bounce through 2012!

  • Take action - Action gives you the power to change any situation. Ask yourself the following "What would you do if you knew you would not fail?" What could you achieve? Be brave and just do it. If it doesn't work out the way you want, then do something else;
  • Be persistent - Successful people just don't give up. They keep trying different approaches to achieving their outcomes until they finally get the results they want. Unsuccessful people try one thing that doesn't work and then give up. Often people give up when they are on the threshold of succeeding;
  • Be objective - Don't take failure personally. Although what you do may not give you the results you want, it doesn't mean you are a failure;
  • Don't beat yourself up!  If something doesn't work, don't give yourself a hard time; move on; look towards the doors that are just about to open;
  • Treat failure as a learning opportunity - You have to be prepared to increase your failure rate if you are to increase your rate of success - Ask yourself the following four questions. What was the mistake? Why did it happen? How could I have prevented it? What will I do better next time?
  • Look for the probortunity - Out of every crisis there is an opportunity and for every problem there is a solution. So seek out the probortunity!

8 - Balance Your Life
Work and home life are equally important, and the key to happiness is about finding the right balance so you can get the best and the most out of both of them.
Work - Home Balance - Useful Tips

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day;
  • At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day;
  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life;
  • Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early;
  • Make sure you take all of your allocated holidays;
  • Create a buffer between work and home;
  • Decide what chores can be shared or let go;
  • Make time for exercise and relaxation;
  • When you get home, focus on positive outcomes from the day;
  • Pursue a hobby that has nothing to do with your work.

9 - Make A Positive Difference
If we approach every life situation with positive and kind intentions, then we will be making our own great individual contribution to creating a better world and making a positive difference. The understanding that we hold in our hands the power to inspire others, change a life, a mind, or a circumstance today is a powerful insight and motivator and something to be truly appreciative of. However small or great our actions, whatever our purpose is, we have the power to make a difference in everything we do.

10 - Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Scientific research has concluded that the practice of appreciation can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is not difficult to achieve; even a few hours spent writing a gratitude journal over a three-week period can create an effect that lasts for six months, if not more. The research findings have also indicated that cultivating an attitude of gratitude can bring other health benefits, such as longer and better-quality sleep time.

Feeling grateful has a number of other benefits, too. Feelings of gratitude are associated with less frequent negative emotions and can promote more positive emotions, such as feeling energized, alert, and enthusiastic. You can even experience pleasant muscle relaxation when recalling situations in which you were grateful. It is apparent that the act of giving thanks can have a remarkable impact on a person's well-being; the best thing is that we can tap into this amazing resource any time we like! Keeping a small gratitude stone by the side of your bed and holding it when you focus on grateful thoughts will remind you and serve as an anchor for your daily dose of gratitude.



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About Liggy Webb

Liggy Webb, Presenter and Author, is widely respected as a leading expert in the field of Modern Life Skills. She is passionate about her work and improving the quality of people's lives, especially with regards to mental health. Liggy travels extensively as an international consultant with the United Nations and she describes her visit to Afghanistan as her most significant life experience to date. Liggy's achievements include the following: Founding director of The Learning Architect - a consortium of behavioural skills experts;  Author of The Happy Handbook - How to Work Wonders - Thank you;  Next book How to be Happy is due out in 2012;  Contributing author to Ask the Experts - 50 lessons learnt from the recession; Executive Editor of Training Pages;  Trustee of The Chrysalis Programme; International Consultant with the United Nations; Champion of Action For Happiness -  Liggy may be contacted via

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