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Last Updated on August 7, 2019

9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life

9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life

From how you wake up in the morning, to the work you do, to the food you eat, our behaviors are a reflection of our mood and state of mind. How we respond to circumstances and situations creates a ripple effect and then a change or a consequence.

And everyday, we’re making tons of decisions, forming or sticking to habits and trying to cultivate a positive mindset in the process. Our habits make changes in our lives, some good, some not so good.

We live in a world where a lot of negative, scary, questionable, and often times, crazy things happen. We’re constantly consumed by what’s being said on the news, on social media, or on the radio, and it can be difficult not to internalize it all.

Our brains take in so much information at the speed of light and try to process the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Our habits shape us and affect our perspective on the things that happen to us.

It’s important to adopt happy habits that will allow you to be calm in your mind. Each day, especially if you live with depression and anxiety, mental health or self check-ins will be most beneficial for you. During these check-ins, you can do anything that you find enjoyable.

Happy habits are powerful enough to bring you joy, which is everlasting.

Adopting happy habits will strengthen your thoughts and how you respond to life events or transitions. So, here are 9 happy habits you can include that will radically shift your mindset and outlook on life.

1. Go on Nature Walks

Even in the winter time, I will go outside regardless of how cold it is, and spend time walking in nature. I’ve made this habit of doing nature walks, listening to my footsteps, breathing in fresh air, or marveling at wildlife.

Where I live, a lot of deer congregate (and lately, wild turkeys) in the wilderness amid my home. If I am having a stressful or hard day, I will focus on sounds outside. I focus on all of my senses. Calmness eases my thoughts.

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Recently, I’ve been going through difficult transitions and found myself relying on this time in the woods. The smell of burning leaves instantly relaxes me. Not sure why, but I’ve loved the burning maple smell since I was a kid.

2. Do a Creative Activity (That You Don’t Feel the Need to Share Online)

You don’t have to be creative to do something creative. Try coloring in those adult coloring books if your thoughts are driving you mad. Those Sudoku puzzles or word searches are things I like to do to take my mind off of the stress induced by daily life.

By doing puzzle-like activities, the mind goes quiet. Thoughts will fade and if something is bothering you, some kind of activity can change your perspective.

Doing things that get your creative juices flowing will open your mind to solutions to problems in all areas of your life.

Don’t think you’re a creative person? You can definitely change that with this.

3. Fifteen Minutes of Cleaning Each Day

If you spend only fifteen minutes a day cleaning, picking up your living room, kitchen or bedroom, you’ll immediately set yourself up for a stress-free day.

When I started devoting fifteen minutes each night to cleaning, I’ve been able to make more time for cultivating those happy habits that boost my mental health.

Cleaning can feel like a therapy or a meditation. Keeping your living environment in order will allow for more time to accomplish work tasks or other obligations.

4. Ten Minutes of Silence

Just ten minutes of silence or solitude can work wonders on your mental and emotional well-being. In those ten minutes, simply sit somewhere comfortable with your eyes closed and do breathing exercises. You could also do a brief self-hypnosis if you’re feeling particularly flustered or stressed.

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Make your own routine with this ten minutes of silence. I do my best work when I’ve had this time of quiet. It’s a way to add balance to your day and it’s a small thing you can do that’ll benefit you in the long run.

5. Try This Kind of Journaling

At the end of every day, (I’ve been talking and writing about this type of journaling for years), keep a daily journal or a log of what you did that day and need to do the next.

If you’re someone who is hard on yourself or puts a lot of pressure on yourself, this type of writing will reshape your thinking about how you’re doing in life. It’s a way of dumping your workload on paper and seeing it for what it is, how simple and straightforward it is.

If you’ve got a truckload to do or there are things you’re forgetting to do, keeping a log will lift the weights off your shoulders and ease the stress and tension on your mind.

It will restructure your brain and mind by keeping your emotions in tact so you can function at your highest level. It will also help you stay on track at the same time.

And a bonus: You’ll be less forgetful and know what you need to do to reach the finish line of work or other things that need attention.

6. Stretch for Fifteen Minutes Each Day or Night

For three years straight, and still, I’ve made this happy habit stick: fifteen minutes of stretching.

You don’t have to do yoga or twist yourself into a pretzel. I am talking about easy stretching anybody can do.

The habit of daily stretching will target your body, help you sleep better, and ease the tightness, strain or tension in your muscles.

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All of my stress sits on top of my shoulders and in my back, so I’ll spend fifteen minutes doing light or deep stretching to relax and unwind. You’ll feel lighter in your thoughts and mind when your body is feeling good.

The benefits of stretching range from fighting fatigue, insomnia, and eliminating stress. If you want to change your outlook and your life, focusing on how you’re feeling physically is a good place to start.

7. Make Small Salads Daily

Food is happiness, and how you eat affects the way you feel. It’s okay to splurge on a cupcake or cookies once and again but, studies now show that sugar, gluten and dairy contribute to depression and anxiety. They can overtax your system and result in severe fatigue or a crash of some kind.

I challenged myself to make a habit of preparing small, bowl-size salads (which takes me five minutes to make and does not require Masterchef skills). I select three vegetables and one fruit with spinach or something green.

Since I’ve been making salads each day, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my overall mood. Clean eating promotes happiness and this is a great habit to include in your regimen.

8. Volunteer or Give Your Time to a Cause

I’ve made a commitment to volunteer at my local art museum as often as my schedule allows. And let me tell you, my schedule is constantly slammed and jammed. But when I volunteer, I feel calmer and happier being away from the tedious artistic design work I do.

While I love my job, volunteering and giving to others has been extremely uplifting, fulfilling and enriching. You’ll find yourself feeling calmer, less rushed, and with more opportunities to enjoy others and life.

9. Take an Enrichment Class

If you can, get involved in the community and do an enrichment class such as cooking, sewing, yoga, a book club, or arts and crafts.

A lot of communities even have programs for people in their work field that are fun. For example, if you work in the I.T. field and would like to be more creative, you can take an enrichment class that introduces you to more avenues in your field or skills to expand on.

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Try something outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s once a month. There are people I know who work forty hours a week that still find the time to go to an enrichment program. Someone I know takes time out of their lunch hour to play basketball and exercise so they can return to their work with fresh eyes.

Doing things like that as well will break up your day and make you look forward to getting back to work.

The Bottom Line

To sustain a healthy mindset, you must take time for yourself and nourish your mind daily. Lifestyle practices such as mindful meditation, planting your feet on the ground and focusing on your breathing, or meditative walking produce calmness. Getting enough sunlight fuels the brain, boosts the production of serotonin, and hearing nature sounds intervenes in negative thinking.

When creating new habits, make sure to ask yourself how they will affect your health or outlook on life in the long-term. If there are habits you’re trying to let go of that sabotage your happiness, replace them with small habits.

The idea is to not put pressure on yourself, and instead, to explore and grow.

The change shouldn’t terrify you; it should spark inspiration and put you on a more fulfilling and purposeful path.

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Featured photo credit: Patrick Carr via unsplash.com

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Tessa Koller

Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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