How to be happy in 5 easy steps

We all want to be happy. But we usually equate this with money. We dream of being millionaires, of winning the lottery and being happy forever after.

How to be happy in 5 easy steps

I’m not rich. I’m not even close to being wealthy. But I have adjusted my life to live what I consider a good life. I’m happy. Sure, I could always use some more cash. Especially when the AC breaks down or one of the kids’ birthdays comes around. Still, I can’t complain. Life is pretty damn good. Here are five things I’ve done to make myself happier without spending much money—if any.

  1. Stop shopping. Yeah, I know that sounds pretty cuckoo. But think about it. We all spend our free time visiting the mall, department stores, browsing for crap on Amazon. If you set your mind to blank out the ‘want’ of products, and erase the idea of shopping from your mind, you’ll find happiness.
  2. Do the things you would do if you were rich. A long time ago I asked myself the question: what would I do with my life if money was no object? It turns out the answer was write. I would write fiction—which I am doing and have been doing for at least a decade. The other thing was travel. Well, I have kids and they have school, so even if I had the extra cash, I couldn’t just pull them out of school to go travel all the time. Instead, we save money for the summer and winter vacations and take trips we can afford. So far, so good.

    Also read: 7 Happiness hacks for busy women

    How to be happy in 5 easy steps

  3. Remodel your home as a Do-It-Yourself project. I’m not talking about tearing up the floors, changing fixtures or adding gold columns to the entrance of your abode. I’m talking about cleaning things up a bit. Funky up your home, paint the walls, get some art at a thrift store, plant a few trees or flowers—whatever works. Make your home a place you want to be in and not just a box you use for shelter.
  4. Learn to cook. I’m not kidding. Are you eating a lot of pre-made or processed foods? What did you have for dinner in the last week? If it’s all pretty dull and routine, then change things up a bit. We all love to eat. And we love to eat out, go to a nice restaurant, have a little broiled octopus, roasted rack of lamb, ceviche. Why not cook it yourself? It’s not about doing it every day. We all have busy lives, but take a couple of days a week to cook something special. Make a big deal out of the dinner. Invite some friends. Enjoy!
  5. Turn off the TV. One of the things that makes us the most unhappy is seeing how other people live. Heck, I see it on Facebook all the time. Everyone has a great life. I’m cool with that, but it’s natural to make comparisons. The grass is always greener, right? And the TV news? Don’t even get me started. Instead of watching TV play board games with your kids, toss the ball in the back yard, visit with friends, go to a movie. Anything is better than TV.

But if your idea of happiness is driving a Lamborghini and sailing your yacht to Saint Barths, please take me with you!

Phillippe Diederich

Phillippe Diederich is a bilingual author and photographer born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Mexico City and Miami. His photography has appeared in The New York Times, Time magazine, U.S. News and World Report and other national publications. Phillippe’s novels Sofrito and Playing for the Devil’s Fire are both published by Cinco Puntos Press. He is the recipient of a PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the Editor-in-Chief of Viva Fifty!