For the first 38 years of my life, I considered myself a happy person. I assumed I knew how to live a happy life.
I was fortunate to be born to parents who provided for me. Although we were not rich by any means, we always had food, clothing, shelter, and fun extras.
After I grew up and got married, my husband and I were blessed with 4 children. As we were raising them, we placed a high priority on making sweet memories through rich experiences with them, such as camping, game nights, homeschooling, and Christmas memories.
I later discovered the reason I had experienced happiness most of my life was because the circumstances around me were mostly good circumstances.
But it wasn’t until I found out I had breast cancer at age 39 that I began to search and seek after God in a new and desperate way.
This search opened the door of my heart to discover what true happiness is and how to live a happy life.
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How to Live a Happy Life
1. Practice gratitude by counting your blessings continually.
Want to be happy? Learn to cultivate a grateful heart.
Have you ever heard of a person being described as a “glass-half-full” person or a “glass-half-empty” person? There have been times in my life where I was the half-empty kind.
But I have found that when I daily count my blessings and dwell my thoughts in that good place, my heart grows more and more grateful to God.
I have also found that one of the best ways to grow a grateful heart is to write down what you are thankful for each day. You can just use a plain notebook or journal to begin to do this. Or you can start by downloading your free Gratitude Journal at the bottom of this post. Try it and see if joy and contentment grow along with gratefulness.
2. Humble yourself daily.
Most of us are not naturally humble. In fact, you may have even had some Pharisee moments in your life. I know I have.
But recognizing my lack of humility and my need for repentance and grace is the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I am so grateful that the Lord mercifully opened my eyes to my own arrogance and my need to humble myself.
It is very freeing to begin to understand that it is not about me; it’s about Him and about using my gifts to serve others in His name. And I get to enjoy the happy benefits of such as life!
As Andrew Murray says in his precious little book “Humility,” Jesus modeled true humility for all believers when “He made Himself nothing…taking the nature of a servant.” And since He is our Master, we should look more and more like Him, as we increase in humility, the “distinguishing feature of discipleship.”
I find it helpful to remind myself to be humble by referring to Scripture verses such as “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” Matthew 11:29.
I also find quotes about humility very helpful. “Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.”
The pursuit of true humility is so worth your attention. The result will be a freeing and greater happiness for you.
3. Hang out with God in His Word every morning.
In other words, read the Bible every day! Learn to LOVE God’s Word! It is truly nourishing food for our souls.
Spending time with the Lord each morning began to change my life 16 years ago. Starting my day with Him by reading His word, singing praises to Him, writing in a journal what He teaches me, and praying to Him have proven to be the secrets to living a fruitful, abundant life. He teaches me so much!
Studying the Bible, praising God, and praying to Him are spiritual disciplines God will use to change you from the inside out.
4. Respect your husband, whether you think he deserves it or not.
The Bible tells us God’s heart on this matter. Ephesians 5:33 says, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
In order to live an abundant life and have a happy home, the husband and wife relationship must be a good one. This involves daily humbling ourselves, being careful of our words and tone of voice.
Tone of voice. Wow, I’ve messed up there more times than I care to count.
The truth is that sometimes as wives, we may think our idea about a certain decision is better than our husband’s idea. Have you ever been there? I know I have.
And you know what? Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes our idea IS better than his.
But guess what? Sometimes his idea is better, and I just THINK mine is better.
But the point is, whether my idea actually is better, or whether I just think it is, God calls me to respect my husband because of his God-given position in our marriage. And if we do this as wives, God calls it obedience. It displays our faith and trust in Him.
Other times we just get aggravated for whatever reason. Then our tone of voice might sound disrespectful. When that happens to me, it’s time to humble myself and handle things God’s way.
And make no mistake about it: the Lord will notice your sincere obedience to Him. He will honor it and you will be blessed in ways you cannot manufacture yourself.
If you are faithful in this, you will find that even if your husband is making a mistake, God will work it out for good.
Life will always be better for us when we follow Christ.
5. Make a list of kind things to do for others and plan to do them.
When we hear a story about an act of kindness, it warms and softens the human heart. When we read about someone showing mercy to someone else, it makes us feel good inside.
But sometimes that’s where it stops.
It’s not that we don’t want to do acts of kindness for others.
It’s just that… well… “I’m just so busy.” Sometimes we may even think, “Someday when things settle down and my children get a little older, I’ll have time to do more things for others.”
But acts of kindness are the daily stuff God intends our lives to be made of. These things matter for eternity.
I love Bible verses about kindness. They inspire me and speak to my heart about just how important this is to God. Listen to these verses:
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20
“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” Hebrews 6:10
“Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
A kind heart is a happier heart.
6. Take care of your body: eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, and move your body every day.
There’s no question that you’ll feel better if you take care of your body. Life is so much more enjoyable when the body feels healthy.
Eating nutritious food really does make you feel your best. I didn’t realize just how true this was until I did 30 days of the Whole 30 eating plan.
Wow. What a difference! You can read all about my experience here. Basically, I learned what foods really make me feel my best and what foods make me feel bad and cause inflammation.
Make a plan to increase your daily physical activity and movement. You don’t need a gym membership to move your body every day.
Taking a daily walk/jog and doing some basic old-fashioned weight-bearing exercises (like the Royal Canadian plan) can strengthen you and improve your health by doing them as little as 15 minutes a day.
The thing that has helped me the most in this area of my life is Healthy Free U. It is an amazing program with online health coach Katrina Sequenzia. Katrina is very knowledgeable in nutrition as well as all aspects of health for women. She is also a wonderful and sweet Christian woman who cares about your health. Be sure to check out Healthy Free U and enjoying having Katrina as your personal health coach!
The best part about taking care of yourself is that it makes you a good steward of your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. And a healthy body is better able to help and serve others in His name.
7. Make sleep a priority.
If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, chances are you’re not living at your best. You certainly won’t feel your best.
But sleep deprivation can cause many other serious consequences. The scariest ones involve your health. Lower immunity and increased risk of disease result from not regularly getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Your daytime quality of life will suffer and you may end up spending your days fighting sleepiness and not being able to focus. Daily house chores will likely pile up because you won’t have the energy to follow through with them.
Even your relationships can suffer. I know when I’m feeling sleep deprived, I just don’t have what it takes to invest in meaningful conversations with others.
One thing that helped me is Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. It’s a great book filled with practical steps to help you sleep better. Be sure to check it out!
Making sleep a priority in your life will help you function better in all other areas of your life. And if you’re like me, when you feel better from a good night’s sleep, you’re a happier person.
8. Get your money under control.
Let’s face it, money stress is real. If your money is out of control, then you probably experience stress on a regular basis. Living paycheck to paycheck and wondering where all your money went is not the path to living an abundant, happy life.
Drowning in debt is a dangerous downward spiral for anyone. When we were in debt, I became downright scared. And it seemed there was no end in sight.
But I discovered that there is a better way and it is available to you! It won’t be easy, but the freedom you will gain will be SO worth it!
God calls us to be good stewards of all He has given to us. And money is right up there at the top of that list.
It will test us, for sure. The Bible tells us that to whom much is given, much is expected. And in this day and age, we have been given much.
Therefore, we have a responsibility to steward well what God has provided for us. That means learning how to create a budget, control your spending, save money, give money, and pay off debt are vital to your financial health as well as your overall abundant life.
These are not options if you are serious about living your best life. So make up your mind right now to get your money under control. You’ll be so glad you did!
9. Start a decluttering plan for your home today.
When we have too much stuff everywhere, we waste time and energy trying to find things and we spend money replacing things we can’t find.
Not only that, but a cluttered home can also cause a cluttered mind. It’s stressful to look at piles of stuff everywhere we turn! For me, this is a continual journey. I try to declutter a little here, a little there in a systematic way.
Decluttering a home is not easy. Especially if you’ve lived in your home a long time and accumulated lots of stuff, like I have.
The most difficult part is sentimental items. But if you’re just starting to declutter, don’t start with sentimental! Do the easier stuff first. If you want step-by-step decluttering tips, read my post here and get your free Declutter Time! guide here.
10. Set up systems to make cooking and cleaning easier and more efficient.
Have you ever thought about how many hours of our lives we spend meal planning, cooking, and cleaning? Don’t you think it makes sense to at least make the process as quick and easy as possible?
But if you’re like me, sometimes life gets so busy that things really begin to pile up. When you have children’s activities and practices to attend, the meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning can seem overwhelming! Setting up a schedule where you do these things the same time each week, along with the help of some printables, will make life a little easier.
11. Spend time enjoying the great outdoors regularly.
There’s just something about being out in God’s creation that rejuvenates the soul! Spending time outdoors gives us a dose of sunshine, a break from the work within the walls of our home, and a fresh perspective out in the open air.
So even if it’s a stroll around the block, or sitting out in your backyard, take advantage of all that God’s creation can do to enhance your well-being and happiness.
12. Learn a hobby to relieve stress.
Ok, let’s just come right out and say it: adulting is hard work! Paying bills, working to earn money, taking care of a home and family are tremendous responsibilities.
The pressure and stress from it all can build up where you just need a break. And having to wait several months until its vacation time doesn’t cut it.
Through all of my adult life, I have noticed that when I work on hobbies that I enjoy, it’s like taking a little vacation from all the work.
Hobbies are things you love to do that bring you joy. The possibilities are endless: scrapbooking, crocheting, knitting, paper crafting, painting, DIY furniture, hand lettering, sewing, quilting, and much more!
So, what hobby would you like to try? It’s never too late to start!
Say No To Perfectionism
If you look back over this list, you will see that these are some pretty lofty goals.
But here is something very important to remember: We are all human. We are not perfect. Not even close. So pursuing these good things in your life will not look perfect. But guess what? That is okay! And it is expected!
The good news is… your very best life does not require perfection. What it does require is God’s grace. And He has that available for you…everyday!
But here’s another very important thing.
When these things don’t look perfect in your life, don’t let it discourage you from your continued pursuit of them. As Jon Acuff teaches in his excellent book, Finish, perfectionism will try to convince you that since things aren’t perfect, you may as well just give up.
Not true, my friend!
Learn to live in your brokenness, in the grace and power of Christ. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
As you learn to live apart from perfectionism, you’ll be well on your way to knowing how to live a happy life.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life! So make the most of it! Live in God’s grace in your relationships with Him, with your husband, and with everyone else. Take care of yourself so you’ll not only feel your absolute best, but you’ll be able to serve your absolute best. Get your money and your home in order, and relieve stress by treating yourself to a new hobby and the great outdoors!
You can do this…one baby step at a time. And I am here to cheer you on! Pretty soon, you’ll be teaching others how to live a happy life.
Here’s to your abundant, happy life!
God’s grace to you,
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YOUR TURN: Which of these areas do you feel would be a good place for you to start? How do you think your life would be different if you gradually became more intentional about each of these areas? Please share in the comments below! Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from my readers!