How to Be in Your Happy Place

Three Parts:Preparing to Enter Your Happy PlaceRelaxing Your BodyImmersing Yourself through Visualization

Stress can cause physical and psychological damage if you don’t learn how to manage it effectively. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress and experience an instant happiness boost is to visit your happy place on a regular basis. Regardless of what’s going on in your external environment, a few minutes in your happy place can help you revitalize your brain and your body so that you can more effectively handle stressful situations.

Part 1
Preparing to Enter Your Happy Place

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    Find a physical place that is relaxing for you. Make sure that it is a quiet area that is not associated with stress. It can be a specific room or it can be a favorite space, such as a seat near a window or a lawn chair in your backyard. Just make sure that the place is clean, visually appealing, and the temperature is comfortable.[1]
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    Make yourself comfortable. Decide on a relaxing position for your body. You may sit or lie down, whichever is more comfortable for you. If you choose to sit in a chair, it’s probably best if your spine is straight and is supported by the back of the chair. If you lie down, make sure that your back is flat and your legs are straight.[2]
    • Some people prefer to lie down with their legs bent. It’s really a personal preference as long as you're comfortable. Also, you may want to put a pillow under your head for additional comfort.
    • Be sure to loosen or remove any tight or irritating clothing or jewelry before you start.
    • Make sure that your body isn’t cramping or aching in any way and that your limbs aren’t “falling asleep.”
    • Try to position yourself the same way each time you do this process. As your body and mind associate your posture with relaxation, this position will become an “anchor” allowing you to relax much quicker.
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    Identify where your happy place is. There are no restrictions as long as it is a safe and inviting place for you. Your happy place can be anywhere that you choose, whether you’ve been there before or not.
    • Don’t focus on whether or not your happy place is a realistic destination for you. If it’s a safe place that makes you happy then you can use it.
    • Examples of great happy places include the beach, forest, spa, favorite hotel, favorite eatery, a favorite childhood place, or any other place that brings you joy.
    • Your happy place doesn’t even have to be a real place. You can decide to make up your own unique destination by creating a special place in your mind that has all of the specific characteristics that you want. Feel free to mix and match from places that you love. You can even give your made-up happy place a distinctive name of your choosing.

Part 2
Relaxing Your Body

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    Prepare to use Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This technique allows you to experience a sense of deep relaxation. When you’re in a relaxed state, it’s easier to get to your happy place.
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    Start the relaxation process by closing your eyes and tensing your toes on one foot. Hold the tension for five seconds and then relax the muscles for thirty seconds. You should feel the muscles in your toes begin to relax.
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    Repeat this process with the toes on your other foot and then move up to your calves. Continue to tense your muscles for five seconds and then relax them for 30 seconds as you progressively work your way up your body. Here is a good guide to help you with each of the muscle groups:[3]
    • Forehead and scalp: Open your eyes wide. Focus on raising your eyebrows as high as you can. Your face may resemble how you look when someone surprises you.
    • Upper facial region (Eyes and cheeks): Squeeze your eyes shut as tightly as you can.
    • Lower facial region (Mouth and jaw): Open your mouth as wide as you can. This is may feel similar to how your mouth appears when you're about to shout something across a crowded room.
    • Neck: Raise your head so that your neck is being gently pulled backward. Continue this slow movement until you are looking up at the ceiling. Be careful when you tense these muscles because your neck can be easily injured.
    • Shoulder muscles: Tense the muscles in your shoulders by raising your shoulders upward. Your goal should be to get your shoulders as close to your ears as possible.
    • Back of your shoulders (shoulder blades) and back: Move your shoulder blades in a backward motion toward one another. It should feel like you’re trying to make them touch. As you do this, you'll feel your chest pushing forward.
    • Biceps and Triceps (Upper arm): Bring your forearm up to your shoulder and then tense the muscle. It should feel like you're trying to “flex your muscles.”
    • Hands and forearm: Tightly squeeze your hand together so that you're making a fist.
    • Midsection (Chest and stomach): Take a deep breath from your diaphragm. The breath should be deep enough to fill up your lungs and chest with air.
    • Hips and buttocks: Squeeze the muscles in your buttocks together tightly. You'll feel tension in your pelvic area as well.
    • Quadriceps and hamstrings (Upper legs): Tightly squeeze your leg muscles together so that your thighs feel tight.
    • Feet and lower legs: Curl your toes tightly until you feel tension in your calves. Alternatively, you can bend your toes backwards, getting your toes to point toward you as much as possible, until you feel the tension.
    • Remember, you are starting with your toes and progressively moving up your body. When you reach your head and neck region, your body should feel relaxed. Sometimes it takes a second round of progressive relaxation before you reach the desired state.
    • It may be harder to reach this place of relaxation when you first start practicing this technique, but keep trying. Eventually your brain will begin to associate this technique with relaxation and the process will become quicker and easier.
    • Some people prefer to start with the head/neck region and work their way down the body. It doesn’t matter whether you start at the bottom or top of your body as long as you progressively relax the muscle groups.

Part 3
Immersing Yourself through Visualization

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    Recognize the power of the mind. Focused visualization is a tool that can help you feel like you’re literally sitting in your happy place. Science has shown that the subconscious mind is unable to distinguish between a vivid visualization and an actual real-life experience.[4]
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    Begin visualizing by mentally seeing yourself in your happy place. Try to recreate the details of this place in your mind’s eye. Pretend as though you’ve teleported yourself there so that you can see every vivid detail of your surroundings.
    • If you’re struggling with getting a mental vision of your happy place, try looking at a picture of the place for a few minutes before you begin visualizing.
    • If viewing a picture of the actual place is not feasible, try finding a picture of a similar place online or cut out pictures from a magazine for you to view before beginning the process.
    • The visualization doesn’t have to be an exact image; the point is to help you recreate an experience of happiness.
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    Incorporate your other senses into the visualization process. As you imagine yourself in this place, focus on involving all five senses. Remember, the more senses that are involved, the more vivid the visualization becomes and the more real the experience feels.[5]
    • Using all of your senses to make a visualization experience more vivid is often referred to as guided Imagery.[6] Guided imagery is based on the concept that your body and mind are so connected that you can focus your thoughts to induce a relaxed state in your body.
    • Let’s take the beach as an example of a happy place. You can begin by imagining that you are walking along the beach appreciating the beautiful blue water and vibrant white sand. You could then begin to incorporate your sense of touch by feeling the warmness of the sun on your skin and the coolness of the water on your feet as you dip your toes into the ocean.
    • Use your sense of hearing by imagining the crash of the waves and the sounds of the seagulls as they fly above you. Focus on smelling the salt infused sea water that is so distinctive to the beach. Allow yourself to taste lemonade or the beverage that you bring with you to cool down during your visits to the beach.
    • Try to completely immerse yourself into the visualization. When you get really good at the process, your body may even start to respond. For example, you might begin to salivate as you think about the sweet refreshing lemonade or you may begin to literally smell the salt air.
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    Believe in the process. Visualization may seem hard or ineffective when you first start, but keep practicing. Many people report that after a few practices, visualizing their happy place becomes second nature to them.
    • When you first begin using this technique, you may find your mind wandering off at times. When you catch yourself doing this, just begin to refocus on your happy place again.
    • Sometimes the process is so relaxing that you may find yourself falling asleep. Recognize that this is a normal occurrence and continue to practice the exercise. Eventually you’ll be able to get through the exercise without falling asleep.


  • It’s okay to have one designated happy place or you can experiment with different places. If you choose one designated place, you can fill in all of those pleasant details with more and more clarity each time you practice this exercise. This makes the experience in your happy place seem more real. However, if you choose different places each time, then the exercise feels even more exciting as you act on what you currently desire.
  • Try to include movement and emotion when you enter your happy place. This will help your brain to interpret the experience as being real.
  • Deep breathing sometimes helps when you’re trying to relax your body.
  • Visualize your happy place on a regular basis to restore your spirit and relieve stress. Make it a goal to visualize at least once per day.
  • Your goal should be to spend 15-20 minutes in your happy place each day. You may want to set an alarm to signal when the time has elapsed. Sometimes you can enjoy your happy place so much that you get lost in the visualization and may lose track of time. This is especially important in the beginning, just in case you fall asleep.
  • If you find it extremely difficult to visualize, there are guided imagery tapes that you can purchase that can teach you how to use your senses better during the process.
  • Your 'happy place' doesn't need to be the same place all the time.


  • Although going to your happy place has proven to be a good stress reduction technique, if you’re experiencing uncontrollable sadness or are considering harming yourself in any way, please seek help from a Physician or Qualified Mental Health Professional in your local area.
  • If you have any injuries, you should consult your physician before beginning progressive relaxation. Similarly, if you feel any pain while you are engaged in the process, stop immediately.

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Categories: Happiness & Optimism