That means letting yourself off the hook a little, Orcutt said. Don't beat yourself up for not meeting everyone's expectations. Sometimes your boss, your parents and your spouse expect too much. Don't blame yourself for not being perfect; just emphasize what you can accomplish.
“Set boundaries,” she said. “No, I can't fit in that one extra meeting. I can't volunteer this time with the PTA. Reserve some time to take a nap or a bubble bath or read a book. Give yourself time for good eating habits and exercise. People feel better about themselves when they're taking care of themselves in those ways, too.”
“Happy people usually have a sense of purpose or something they love to do,” Orcutt said. “It could be some type of volunteering, gardening or art. For some people, it might be their work; it has a lot of meaning to them and can be an outlet.”
For others, it may be helping those less fortunate, spending time at church, learning a new skill or embracing creativity. Don't have anything like that in your life? Take classes on things you find interesting. Try painting or drawing or photography. Volunteer a day or two at a charity until you find one that's a good fit.
Giving back or developing a talent can help you feel better about yourself.
Happiness can rub off on you, Orcutt said. If you're sad and miserable and only spend time with other people who are sad and miserable, don't expect your world view to improve.
Don't write off your unhappy friends, she said, but broaden your horizons. If you're having a bad day, sometimes a funny, cheerful friend can help you smile. Similarly, try to be positive when it's your turn to cheer someone up.
“Negative thinking begets negative thinking,” she said. So spend some time on the sunny side of the street.
Some problems require professional help. If you can't seem to find happiness no matter what you try, make an appointment to see your family doctor or a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Depression is a medical condition and could be a sign of additional problems. Medications and/or therapy can help.