Happiness is not solely a result. It is also a driving force.
Everyone wants to be happy. In fact, the right to pursue happiness is even written into our country’s Bill of Rights. Do you know how to be genuinely happy? Do you know the best way to acquire true happiness? The truth is that you can greatly increase your happiness levels and gain more satisfaction with your life. It has nothing to do with winning the lottery. It has everything to do with your own change of perspective and your own attitude. Great news, right? Yes. Because it’s something that mostly anyone can accomplish.
Retrain Your Brain to be More Positive
The first thing you will need to do is to teach and train your brain to be more positive. A sole reaction to focus on the negative will undoubtedly lead to stress and unhappiness. Remember, for every negative there is a positive. I know there are times in life when things are very difficult. I’m certainly not telling you to put your head in the sand and to ignore a terrible situation. I’m also not saying to pretend everything is always 100% perfect. I am just asking you to find the positive in a difficult situation and focus on it. Remember dwelling on the negative will cause stress and unhappiness. This will also cause depression and anxiety. However, if you choose to notice and focus on and appreciate the positive, it will be a powerful happiness booster.
It’s a no-brainer that regular exercise is good for your heart as well as your body to burn fat, build muscle and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. It also causes the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that promote happiness. People who exercise regularly are happier. They are less stressed, less anxious and much less depressed.
Penn State University conducted a study and found that the more physically active people are, the greater their feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Less physically active people had much lower levels of excitement and enthusiasm.
It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as you do it regularly. You should aim for an hour a day of exercise, five days a week. It’s important to find something that you enjoy because you’ll be more apt to commit to it and stick with it. You aren’t limited to the gym or running outside. There are numerous ways to exercise. You can join a dance class, take brisk walks, play tennis, swim, take up yoga, or go for a powerful bike ride. The key is to find something active that you enjoy.
Express an Attitude of Gratitude
Teaching yourself to become more grateful can make a huge difference in your overall happiness. Gratitude will help you experience more positive emotions, decrease depression, feel better about yourself, improve your relationships, and even strengthen your immune system.
There are a number of things you can do to increase and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
- Be sincerely thankful towards others. When someone goes out of their way and does something to make your day easier, be sure to express your appreciation. You will not only make that person feel good, but it will also boost your happiness. It subconsciously causes you to realize that you we are all connected and everything we do matters to others.
- Keep a gratitude journal. I can’t express this one enough. I’ve also discussed this is a prior blog. At the end of the day, when you recognize and write down 5 things for which you were thankful on that particular day, it is powerful. Research has concluded that keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful technique that makes you feel happier and more appreciative.
- Count your blessings. Retrain your mind to reflect on what you have to be thankful for. This includes people, life experiences and even material things such as having a roof over your head or food to eat. Focus on all of your blessings, whether they are big or small. You will be surprised to see that it’s actually a pretty long list.
- Turn the negative into a positive. Remember, even the most painful circumstances are able to teach us a positive lesson. Reevaluate a negative event. Realize what you learned from it or how you became stronger, wiser or more compassionate. Once you are able to find meaning in things you’ve experienced, you will be more grateful.
Nurture Your Relationships
Relationships are one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. The happier a person is, the more likely it is that they have a large, supportive circle of family and friends, a loving marriage, and a thriving social life.
Nurturing your relationships is one of the best emotional investments you can make. If you make an effort to build connections with others, you will reap the rewards of more positive emotions. When you are happier, you attract more people into your life and you build higher-quality relationships. This leads to even greater positivity and happiness. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
There are a number of ways to nurture relationships.
- Make a conscious effort to stay connected. One of the biggest end-of-life regreats that people have is losing touch with their friends. This doesn’t need to happen to you. Make an effort to stay connected to the people who make your life brighter. Take the time to call, and get together with those that matter. You’ll be happier.
- Invest in quality time with the people you care about. Spending time with family and friends isn’t enough. It’s the quality of time that you spend that truly matters. If you are just sitting together watching television, it’s not going to strengthen your relationship. Those who are in happy relationships talk to each other. They share things with each other things that are going on in their lives. They share their feelings.
- Offer sincere compliments. Let those that matter in your life know that you appreciate them. It will certainly make them feel happy but it will also encourage them to be an even better friend or partner toward you. It will also allow you to value your relationship with them more and cause you to feel happier.
- Seek out happy people. Just like laughter, happiness is contagious. You can literally catch a good mood so make an effort to seek out happy people and spend time with them.
- Allow the good fortune of others to bring you joy. One of the things that truly separates healthy relationships from unhealthy relationships is how people respond to each others’ good fortunes and successes. Show genuine enthusiasm and interest when your friend or family member experiences something wonderful. If you truly want a closer relationships, pay attention when the other person is excited. Ask questions. Express your excitement for them. Remember happiness is contagious, so as you listen to and share their experience, their joy actually becomes your joy too.
Live in the Moment and Savor Life’s Joys
When you focus on the present moment, you feel centered, happy and at peace. You are likely to notice the good things that are happening around you, rather than letting them pass you by.
There are many ways you can start living more in the moment and savor the good things that life has to offer.
- Begin daily rituals. Enjoyable rituals can increase moments of enjoyment into your day. It can be something so simple such as that first cup of coffee in the morning. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something that you truly enjoy and appreciate.
- Minimize multi-tasking. Savoring moments requires your full attention. This is pretty much impossible if you are doing numerous things at once. For example, when you are enjoying a meal, is it necessary to surf the internet. You will get more pleasure out of the food you are eating if you simply focus on your meal. By focusing on one thing at a time, you will maximize the enjoyment of it.
- Revisit happy memories. There is no need to limit yourself to things that are happening now in the present. When you remember and reminisce about happy memories and experiences from your past, it leads to more positive emotions in the present.
There is something to be said for helping others and feeling like you are making a difference in another person’s life. Those who help those in need and give back to their community are happier. People who help others have higher self-esteem as well as an overall psychological well-being.
Here are some ways to live a more giving life:
- Volunteer. If you volunteer for an organization that you believe strongly in, you will reap the benefit of feeling happy. Happiness is a reaction when you contribute in a meaningful way.
- Practice kindness. Always look for ways to be kinder, more compassionate and giving with each new day. It’s such a simple thing to smile at a stranger and brighten their day. A small gesture goes a long way.
- Play to your strengths. The happiest people know what their strengths are, They build their lives around activities that allow them to use those strengths. There are many different types of strengths, including kindness, honesty, creativity, optimism, loyalty and humor. We all have strengths. Find yours and use it!
Get the Right Amount Sleep
Sleep is as essential to life as are air, food and water. Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality and emotional stability during the day. It is during sleep that your body recharges, heals and regenerates.
When you’re sleep deprived, you’re much more susceptible to stress. Without enough sleep, it’s harder to be productive and make smart decisions.
There is also such thing as over-sleeping. Adults who sleep nine or more hours each night have an increased and rapid decline in their cognitive function than those who sleep between six and eight hours. This is a major risk factor for dementia. Sleeping longer than nine hours a night also increases your risk of obesity, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
The optimal sleep hours are seven to eight hours a night. Aim for this and your happiness meter will rise!
Get a Pet
Pets not only provide unconditional love but studies have shown that mental sharpness is improved and blood pressure is lowered when we stroke our pets. Pets keep us more active, teach us empathy, increase our social connections, give us emotional support as well as bring order to our lives. This is a great way to increase happiness! If you are unable to own a pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.
Eat Healthy Foods
People who live longer tend to eat healthier. Junk food may taste good but the truth is you need to eat the right foods.
A healthy diet reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Eighty percent of the food you eat should come from nature. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meat, nuts, legumes, dairy and whole grains are natural foods. Stay away from processed food and fast food at all costs. It’s not only taking years off of your life but it’s taking life off of your years.
Eating healthy food every 3-4 hours will cause you to feel more positive and energetic thereby creating a flow of happiness.
In summary, once you decide to make your own happiness the chief focus of your life, you will be living a life of joy that you achieved through your own efforts.
Which of these suggestions will you incorporate into your own life?