Instead of waiting for happiness to come to you, give yourself permission to enjoy it here and now.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse who authored the bestselling memoir The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, one of the regrets she found most surprising was, “I wish that I had let myself be happier”. The book, which detailed the most common regrets of her patients, went on to become immensely popular worldwide and opened up a new avenue of conversation for many. Now, how do we allow ourselves to be happy? Consider these as some starting points:

1 Understand that you deserve to be happy. Learning to prioritise your happiness can be challenging. Still, it doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring the needs of those around you. Often, we focus on lifting others up, unintentionally neglecting ourselves. Though you may feel a certain sense of duty to those around you – remember that you also have to protect yourself. Make a point of telling yourself that you deserve to be happy, and that it’s okay to put yourself first.

2 It doesn’t need to come from struggle. So often people think of achieving happiness as something that comes at the end of a long road – as though happiness is something you have to earn. For generations, social norms have taught us to believe that if we work hard to achieve our goals, we’ll be happy and successful. However, many times, once we reach that point, our brain can push forward the goalpost. Over the last two decades, researchers in neuroscience and positive psychology have found that happiness is actually a precursor to, rather than, a result of success. It also found that focusing on finding happiness within ourselves can translate to successful outcomes in other parts of our lives.