Can You Really Create Happiness?

We all want to know how to create true happiness. But what does that look like exactly? Do we need to add something to our lives, or take something away? And must we discover some deeply hidden secret to the universe in order to possess it?

The question of creating happiness is perhaps one of the most well-known pursuits of mankind. The world is full of books, videos, courses, movies, and podcasts all devoted to helping you on this journey. And all of them offer their own formula’s on how to get there. We’ve actually written a blog on happiness before, and the hot topic of whether you can buy happiness or not. But the topic never seems to get old; and so we’re writing another one that looks at happiness from a different angle. 

There are many things you can do to promote a happy life. But what we most commonly neglect is how to deal with the unhappiness when it evidently arrivesWhen you master the skill of managing unhappiness, you actually promote happiness.

Embracing Unhappiness

Below is a list of emotions that I want you to look at. Without putting too much thought into it, make a mental note of which emotions you think of as negative or bad, and which as positive or good. 










Typically, most people only see the last three emotions on the right hand side as positive or good and all the others as bad. But here’s the catch – these are the 9 emotions that scientists describe as the fundamental emotions of human beings, where all other emotions are then derived from. 

What does this mean? It means that none of these emotions are bad. That’s right – they’re not bad, nor good. They just…are. 


This information is given to us by Dr Russ Harris in his book called The Happiness Trap. Harris is an author, therapist and health trainer, and explains that there are many myths about happiness that actually contribute directly to the stress, anxiety and depression that is so well-known in today’s world. One of these myths is the idea that our fundamental emotions are bad.

Can You Really Create Happiness?

If emotions are neither bad nor good, what do we do with the ones that don’t feel good?

We need to move through them, allowing space for them whilst not holding on to them as ours to keep. Once again there are plenty of techniques out there that can show us how to do this, but one of my favourites is the practice of NOW: 

N – NAME the emotion:

How many times has someone asked how you are and you’ve answered saying “I’m fine” when you’re anything BUT fine? An incorrectly identified emotion cannot be processed. If you can’t get this right, you can’t go any further. Get used to articulating your emotions by paying them attention and trying to describe them to yourself. Even doing only this first step will disempower the emotion. 

O – OF COURSE I have this emotion:

Our emotions are always present for a reason. Once you’ve named it, tell yourself, “Of course I’m having this emotion, because…” this allows you to remember that it’s okay to feel this way and stops you from trying to push down or resist the emotions that are present (because that never, ever works). 


Emotions are triggers, little signals that tell us something needs to be done. For example, if you’re feeling drained you may need some alone time. Or if you’re anxious, you may need to do some soul nurturing. If you’re lonely, you may need some company. The key here is to focus on finding the helpful action, and not harmful, to yourself and others. Sometimes our emotions make us want to do something harmful, so we need to evaluate all actions carefully before taking them. 

I’d say the most important part of discovering happiness is learning how to ride the waves of unhappiness. There’s no secret pill or magic word that can wipe away moments of unhappiness. And why should there be? We wouldn’t know what happiness is without the dark moments. 

Can You Really Create Happiness?

Cultivating Happiness

Sometimes our mood is simply given to us. We wake up feeling on top of the world, full of enthusiasm and hope. And sometimes we wake up and wish we could pull the covers over our head. These days will come and go just like the tides do. 

That been said, there are some activities that we can do which act as mood lifters when we need them most. They’re all great practices to use on those tough days, but they’re most effective when used consistently, as this is how you build healthy wellbeing.

There’s a sea of activities you can do to boost your mood. But ultimately, they fall into the following categories: 


Moving your body regularly is just as beneficial for your brain as it is for your body. It releases mood-lifting chemicals in the brain such as dopamineserotonin, and norepinephrine, along with boosting confidence, energy levels, and minimizing stress.  



A vast amount of research has proven the powerful effect that gratitude has on your mood. When you consistently express gratitude, it can improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression, and regulate stress levels.  


There are so many ways to practice this ancient technique of becoming present. Mindfulness has shown to improve both physical and mental being, including lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, improving anxiety disorders, and levelling out moods. 


What is life without meaningful relationships with others? Connection is the foundational building block of wellbeing. People who feel connected with others have higher levels of empathy and self-esteem. They also have lower levels of depression and anxiety. According to Stanford Medicine, connection creates “a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical wellbeing.”      

Can You Really Create Happiness?

As I say, how you introduce these practices into your life will be personal. It will depend on your lifestyle and priorities. But one thing that stays the same for all of us, is that a healthy balance of all these things will cultivate more happiness. 

When you think of these categories, ask yourself which of them have room for you to invest more time in them. And when you’re in a bad place, think about these things and ask yourself which of them you need a little more of in your life. 

Even once you master the skill of riding the waves on your bad days and learn how to include happiness-inducing activities in your daily life, you will experience feelings of lowness. Remember that this is a part of the authenticity of humanity. Sometimes we just need to have a good cry. Sometimes we need to embrace a silent moment. Sometimes we need the helping hand of another. 

There is a beauty in the way our emotions are so intertwined with us and yet are not us.

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