I often hear people say: ‘if I had... (that new car; a new house; more money, etc.), I’d be happy.’
The truth is that possessions will not make you happy. These things may give you a temporary pleasure, but will not give you that lasting sense of happiness that you crave for. Happiness is not something that just happens. It comes from your own actions.
Read on to learn 11 simple ways that help increase your happiness.
1. Be grateful
Most of us don’t even realize how fortunate and privileged we already are – a working shower with hot water, a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in, lots of food to eat, are only some of the plain everyday things that we take for granted. So, take 5 minutes every day to write down at least 10 things that you’re grateful for. Your happiness will increase significantly, when you stop and take the time to list all that you have in your life that you can appreciate.
There is a plethora of science-backed benefits of meditation - it will help you slow down, reduce anxiety, increase your productivity, understand your own mind, and even improve your health, among many others. Simply, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath for 10 minutes, and you will find your inner peace and balance.
3. Eat wholesome foods
You should eat natural, unprocessed foods most of the time. I know you really enjoy that burger and fries, and I’m not suggesting you need to get rid of them completely. It’s not about depriving yourself of anything. When you deprive yourself, you will not be happy. Rather, it’s all about changing your relationship with food and giving your body what it needs. If you eat healthy wholesome foods around 80% of the time, and indulge (without judgement) the remaining 20%, you will feel better.
4. Spend time with positive people
People have a huge impact on your life. As Jim Rohn says, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. With this in mind, think about the people you’re spending time with. Are they supporting you, enriching your life and make you feel good? Or are they draining you out of your energy, happiness and maybe some of your tangible resources as well? With good people around you, you will find more joy in your life.
I’m sure you are aware of the fact that physical exercise is good for your body. But did you know that it makes you happier too? Any exercise done at moderate intensity level will increase the production of endorphin and other feel-good chemicals, while reducing levels of cortisol and adrenaline – the stress hormones. So, pick your exercise. It can be yoga, weight lifting, running, swimming, dancing, or any other type of exercise that makes your heart pump a little faster, and make it your daily habit. Not only will you be healthier, but also a lot happier.
6. Learn a new skill
Your happiness increases when you are intensely engaged in learning new things. Being absorbed in a task, with child-like curiosity, creates a state of ‘flow’, where hours feel like minutes. The process may make you tired, but you’ll emerge energized and happy. You need to find a skill that is hard enough to challenge you, and is fun enough for you to keep you interested.
7. Set a goal and achieve it
Having goals, both big and small, will give your life a sense of purpose and meaning. Goals will help you focus your attention on what you want rather then what you don’t want. When you set a goal, you will feel better about the future, and when you act on it, you will feel better about the present. Choose ambitious, but realistic, goals. And remember to celebrate all your successes along the way.
8. Make a promise and keep it
We all make commitments to others – ‘yes, honey, I’ll take out the trash after dinner’, ’I’ll send you that report tomorrow’, ‘I’ll take you ice skating next week ’. The question is, however, how often do we keep them? When you don't keep a promise, two things happen. First, you disrespect the person by showing that something else was more important than the commitment you made to them. Second, you disrespect yourself by not sticking to your word. So, not only do you let others down, but also yourself, and your self-image and self-esteem will eventually get affected. Keep your promises. It’s good for others and for you too.
9. Spend time in nature
You are probably inside right now, reading this article. I suggest that, as soon as you’re done, put down your device, leave your house and go outside. Get some fresh air. Better yet, grab your backpack and go to your local woods and take in the beauty of the natural environment. Spending time in nature will free you from the busyness of modern life. It will eliminate the inflow of useless information that you get through your devices, which distract you from what is really important.
10. Be forgiving
Not many people realize the impact the ability to forgive can have on their happiness. When you are unforgiving, you waste your energy ruminating about how you’ve been wronged, or plotting your revenge. When you hold a grudge, you continue to hurt yourself. You don’t experience that situation once, but you re-play it 20, 50, 100 times in your head. You become hateful, depressed, anxious and angry. Experiencing hurt and betrayal is a part of life. People will disappoint you. People will hurt you. Forgiveness is not about forgetting, but rather it’s about letting go. It releases you from resentment, and in that sense, gives you freedom to choose happy thoughts and emotions.
11. Sleep more
Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial to improving your happiness. The simple truth is that an exhausted person is not a happy person. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to get caught up in stressful thoughts and experience anxiety and depression. Experts agree that most adults need between 7-8 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. So, make sure you get the proper amount of shut-eye every night.