To some, happiness always stays by their side. What makes happiness magical is that it can be anything or nothing.
If you know it well, it is everything. If you misunderstand it, it is always out of reach, despite the 10-digit in your bank account.
We may think that richness means happiness, but it isn’t. We may think happiness is a constant emotional stage, but it isn’t. We may think happiness is a goal, but it isn’t.
Everyone has a different definition of happiness, but there is one thing that always holds true and is universal to “everyone’s happiness” – happiness never rejects us.
We live in such a fast-paced world where nothing ever seems to be good enough, fast enough, affordable enough, or attractive enough. Money, jobs, people, flashy things, new tech items, and success take the reigns for what most of us look to at some point to find happiness.
If you think back to the times you were the happiest because of no ulterior motives or external factors, you’d likely see that what truly brought joy to your heart was something much different than what it’s now made out to be in the world. Happiness exists all the time within us, it’s just taking the proper steps to actually find it again.
While we stress that happiness lies right inside of us, external factors do play a part. For example, personal satisfaction goes up with income and fame. It is easily imaginable.
But it is not an incremental game. The return of personal satisfaction is diminishing as we achieve certain level of income and fame. The happiness level will eventually flat out and no longer goes up. Having 100 million or 110 million means no difference to us at that point.
To make things worse, we will soon be used to the satisfaction gained from money and fame. They just can’t feed our appetite.
Therefore, after all, the strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or any external recognition through success or fame. It’s having meaningful social relationships and spiritual contentment.
Remember what has just been said? Happiness is not consistent. We have to boost it from time to time. In fact, happiness does not discriminate any one of us. We all can reach happiness irrespective of who we are and what we do.
A study conducted in 1978 investigated whether the background of a person does anything with the number of good days. There are three distinct groups of people to be studied, lottery winners, typical douchebags and those with injuries rendering them paraplegic or quadriplegic. Supposedly, lottery winners ought to have the most good days. Yet, interestingly, all groups recorded similar number of good days versus bad days.
So, it’s all about prioritising happiness with the tiny things we can do daily. There’s nothing to do with how much we have and what we have lost.
1. Get outside more.
What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor rather than the probability to face a sudden drizzle? It’s sunlight!
What sunlight does to us is that it gives us Vitamin D. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and is naturally found in the sun’s rays, therefore, natural sunlight is one of the most powerful tools we have that we can use to feel better quickly. It’s been proven that those with depression or constant sadness have low Vitamin D levels in their body.
Since we work indoors all day and are not exposed to Vitamin D like people once were ages ago, we need to make a point to get some outside time each day. If you have the option to work outside, definitely take advantage of that.
If not, try to go outside at least 15 minutes each day. You may also look into taking a Vitamin D supplement to increase your levels naturally. Look for Vitamin D3 when possible which is easier for the body to absorb than Vitamin D2.
2. Find new experience.
Novelty is important in our daily life to freshen ourselves. It reminds us of the fact we are not living in an infinite loop – Working. Weekend. Working. Weekend.
A new experience brings excitement to us, making our life less dull and tedious. It can be anything.
We may join a new club in weekends. New activities will do the work. We can also be brave to meet some new people. It can be anyone. Colleagues from another department. Friend of a friend.
We may also explore new hobbies. Simply look for anything that we have never attempted and do it! Even if it doesn’t fit us, it’s fine. We can stop and turn to another one.
Remember, our life is like a bowl of salad. Freshness is really important.
3. Exercise for 7 minutes every day. (Yes 7 minutes only!)
Daily exercise is best for stimulating brain power and engaging neurotransmitters in the brain that help produce more serotonin and natural endorphins, but even a few times a week will make a difference. In other words, it clears our minds and keeps us motivated.
This one step naturally helps you feel happier even if things in your life aren’t going as well as you’d like them to be.
Even walking outside can be counted towards your goal, but more vigorous exercise is even better.
While we all know it is difficult to spare time out of our tightly-stuffed schedule, try to squeeze 7 minutes out of it at the very least. For example, we may take an alternative route to walk back home.
Or, if we are taking public transport, why not get off one stop sooner? There’s always a way to do it.
4. Smile wherever whenever.
Ever heard of a deutsche smile? It means a genuine smile so bright that our eyebrows are subconsciously raised. A true great smile definitely melts people’s heart.
And what keeps us from making a creepy smile? Practice! Yes, smiling needs practice.
Try to smile more. It can be done anytime. On our way to home. When a colleague greets us. Or even when we are looking at ourselves in the mirror. We can practice smiling anywhere anytime. Don’t be shy. We can do it!
5. Sleep enough.
Sometimes everything is done right but we just feel wrong. Say, we finally finish the long project and there are only days away from our long-awaited vacations. But we just do not feel as hyped as expected. What went wrong?
While we are working so hard on the project, we may have overlooked the importance of the average 5 hour of sleep every day. And this is what makes the difference. Sleeping is not only involved in our physical well-being. It contributes to our mental health too.
In fact, a good night’s sleep can help in raising creativity and attention. We may want to cut our sleep one hour short to get things done. But it may turn out that it takes double the time for our drowsy brain to do the work!
I know vacation is short and we always want more time awake to have fun. But we still need to balance the time on bed and the time outside. So, snooze your alarm and bury our head into the pillow!
6. Eat right.
Make it a goal to add more fresh foods into your meals, and skip the fast food and junk foods with sugar. Sugar and processed foods, (along with fast foods high in harmful fats), force the body to work harder and also increase insulin levels that can lead to diabetes and imbalanced neurological function.
On top of your new healthy meals that you’re eating, add some probiotic-rich foods to your menu. Probiotics help repopulate the good with beneficial bacteria that the body uses to produce more feel-good hormones and keep you healthy. The brain and gut are directly connected, and it’s been shown that those who have a healthy gut feel less stressed and also suffer less anxiety and depression. Try to eat more plain yogurt, kefir and even kimchi.
Start to avoid alcohol. Alcohol decreases mood-boosting hormones in the body as it leaves the system and also hurts the liver (as you most likely already know), which can interfere with the body’s natural detoxifying abilities. Start making it a goal to only have one drink per week or a small glass of red wine with dinner. If you can’t handle stopping at that point, it might be time to seek help.
7. Buy less.
Materialistic way of living is really tough. We always have something to chase after. And after we get it, something new has shown up in the market. It’s true that we can get satisfaction from having the luxurious items. But it’s even more important not to be led by them. There are simply too many things to catch. So many that we shouldn’t even consider catching them.
There is one important lesson to learn in life and it can change our life.
Live with what we have. Look at what we’ve got but not what we haven’t. What we have in hand is permanent. Things out of hand are just mirage.
8. De-clutter your life.
This can mean many things to individuals, and it’s often a hard thing for us to think about and do, but it’s critical. You might have a so-called friend who puts you down all the time, a family member that hurts you, a boyfriend or girlfriend that doesn’t treat you right, or maybe even a boss that takes advantage of you. Or, maybe none of those apply, and your diet or bad habits are just hurting you in more ways than one.
Think about things in your life that cause you pain and distress, even if those things may seem okay and manageable some days. Whatever does not serve your future or road to happiness, learn to let it go.
Write this down if you need to and take actions to learn to let go of these things. This might mean telling a person who treats you poorly that you need to move on, it might mean changing jobs, and it might just mean re-hauling your diet or stopping the late nights out drinking.
Whatever it is, start to let go of what does not serve. This is one of the most important things you’ll do when learning how to be happy for life. It’s also a valuable tool you can use for the rest of your life that will help you stay accountable of your life and not engage in things that hurt you rather than help you.
9. Connect with a friend every day or week.
Sometimes, we just need to talk to someone who isn’t at the office or that’s not our parents. If you’re not usually one to be social (my fellow introverts will understand this completely!), then make it an attempt to meet with someone this week to chat. It’s nice to just have a conversation with someone you trust and care about even if you don’t talk about anything heavy-hearted.
Go for coffee, out to eat, or whatever else you enjoy. Or, ask a friend to join you for one of the workouts you’re now doing! When you finally manage to connect with a friend, you can immediately see changes have been made.
10. Have quality time with family.
Be very careful about quality time against quantity time. This makes a HUGE difference. Merely staying at your house with your family while doing things on your own is hardly quality time. Even if you spend an entire week doing it, it simply doesn’t help.
Try having deep conversation instead. Not about anecdotes. But something that is hidden in your heart which is rarely talked about. Family members are the closest ties we have and letting them know more about you is important.
You can relieve your stress and feel loved with the affection they express. You can also build self-esteem through the unlimited support they give us. It is just far more worth than finishing the whole season of TV series on Netflix.
11. Record what you think.
One thing that can help us live a happier life is that we are constantly aware of our thoughts and emotions. We have to understand ourselves more before we can take a step forward to make changes. Using paper and pen is one way to record our daily thoughts. It can be anything that triggers us. Realising what we have in mind can keep track of our emotional state and understand if we are having the prime of our time or on the downhill.
If you aren’t a fan of writing. Gadgets can also do the work. There’s an APP called Moodtrack Diary: Social Mood Tracker & Mood Tracking Journal that reminds you that you can be happy all the time and to appreciate your life more.
12. Build your resilience.
Resilience is important for dealing with hard issues, and it can help make happiness come more easily over the long-term. Maybe this means listening to an inspirational podcast on your way to work or some music while you make dinner. Or, maybe it’s to stop in a bookstore you enjoy during your lunch break, or spend Saturday morning making yourself something special for breakfast. Take actionable steps to really focus on enjoying your day-to-day life more as you continue making changes.
We all have our defeated times. What’s important is that we need to embrace the failure and learn from it. Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to fail at something. Don’t treat failure as a defeat. More precisely, it is a procedure for us to grow.
Resilient people are always able to find a silver lining or two in the darkest days. Things may look extremely rough at first sight but there is always something hidden within that is worth celebrating. Instead of focusing so hard on the wound, try looking at the areas that are healthy and intact.
Life is an ongoing process of trail-and-error. If you don’t even encounter any error part, you have never really lived your life.
There will surely be down times throughout your life, but by learning how to deal with those times, you’re getting closer to happiness. It’s all about how you live your journey that keeps you happy.
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