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Last Updated on October 29, 2018

How to Adopt Happy Habits to Change Your Outlook and Your Life

How to Adopt Happy Habits to 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.

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.

Habits are thinking paths that the brain returns to and creating habits can be challenging.

Doing something new can feel terrifying or uncertain and our brains have a way of protecting us, too. But only if you do so will you live your best life: You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

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I watched a TedTalk recently about how our brains keep us from changing. After I watched this talk, I had a better understanding of why I’d been so hesitant to try new things in the past or create new habits or open my own business. I was letting fear steer my ship. I’d had fears of something not working out or encountering an unfamiliar situation.

If you try to create habits that are too big, you’ll put unnecessary stress and expectations on yourself. You, instead, want to start small. The smallest change can make the biggest difference.

Adopting happy habits will strengthen your thoughts and how you respond to life events or transitions. So, here are nine 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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 OK 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.

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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’re an I.T. guy or are not creative at all, you can take an enrichment class that introduces you to more avenues in your field or skills to expand on.

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

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.

Featured photo credit: Patrick Carr via unsplash.com

More by this author

Tessa Koller

Author and Motivational Public Speaker

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Last Updated on December 16, 2018

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

We all look for a better and happier life, but somehow we realize it’s our attitude that makes it hard to lead the life we want. How can we build a positive attitude? Grant Mathews has listed out the things (from the easiest to the hardest) we can do to cultivate this attitude on Quora:

1. Listen to good music.

Music definitely improves your mood, and it’s a really simple thing to do.

2. Don’t watch television passively.

Studies have shown that people who watch TV less are happier, which leads me to my next point…

3. Don’t do anything passively.

Whenever I do something, I like to ask myself if, at the end of the day, I would be content saying that I had spent time doing it. (This is why I block sites I find myself wasting too much time on. I enjoy them, but they’re just not worth it when I could be learning something new, or working on projects I care about.)

Time is incredibly valuable.

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4. Be aware of negativity

A community that considers itself intelligent tends to be negativity because criticizing is seen as a signaling mechanism to indicate that you’re more intelligent than the person you corrected. This was irrationally frustrating for me – it’s one of those things you’ll stay up all night to think about.

5. Make time to be alone.

I initially said “take time just to be alone.” I changed it because if you don’t ensure you can take a break, you’ll surely be interrupted.

Being with other people is something you can do to make you happy, but I don’t include it in this list because nearly everyone finds time to talk with friends. On the other hand, spending time just with yourself is almost considered a taboo.

Take some time to figure out who you are.

6. Exercise.

This is the best way to improve your immediate happiness.

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Exercise probably makes you happy. Try and go on a run. You’ll hate yourself while doing it, but the gratification that you get towards the end vastly outweighs the frustration of the first few attempts. I can’t say enough good things about exercise.

Exercising is also fantastic because it gives you time alone.

7. Have projects.

Having a goal, and moving towards it, is a key to happiness.

You have to realize though that achieving the goal is not necessarily what makes you happy – it’s the process. When I write music, I write it because writing is inherently enjoyable, not because I want to get popular (as if!).

8. Take time to do the things you enjoy.

That’s very general, so let me give you a good example.

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One of the things that has really changed my life was finding small communities centered around activities I enjoy. For instance, I like writing music, so I’m part of a community that meets up to write a song for an hour every week. I love the community. I’ve also written a song every week, 37 weeks in a row, which has gradually moved me towards larger goals and makes me feel very satisfied.

9. Change your definition of happiness.

Another reason I think I’m more happy than other people is because my definition of happiness is a lot more relaxed than most people’s. I don’t seek for some sort of constant euphoria; I don’t think it’s possible to live like that. My happiness is closer to stability.

10. Ignore things that don’t make you happy.

I get varying reactions to this one.

The argument goes “if something is making you unhappy, then you should find out why and improve it, not ignore it.” If you can do that, great. But on the other hand, there’s no reason to mope about a bad score on a test.

There’s another counterargument: perhaps you’re moping because your brain is trying to work out how to improve. In fact, this is the key purpose of depression: Depression’s Upside – NYTimes.com

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I can think of examples that go both ways. I remember, for instance, when I was debating a year or two ago and my partner and I would lose a round, I would mull over what we had done wrong for a long time. In that way, I got immensely better at debate (and public speaking in general – did you know debate has amazing effects on your public speaking ability? But now I really digress).

On the other hand, there’s no way that mulling over how dumb you were for missing that +x term on the left hand side will make you better at math. So stop worrying about it, and go practice math instead.

11. Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

Video games are addictive for a reason: filling up an experience bar and making it to the next level is immensely satisfying. I think that it would be really cool if we could apply this concept to the real world.

I put this near the bottom of the list because, unfortunately, this hasn’t been done too often in the real world – startup idea, anyone? So you would have to do it yourself, which is difficult when you don’t even know how much you’ve progressed.

For a while, I kept a log of the runs I had taken, and my average speed. It was really cool to see my improvement over the weeks. (Also, I was exercising. Combining the two was fantastic for boosting happiness.)

12. Realize that happiness is an evolutionary reward, not an objective truth.

It’s easy to see that this is correct, but this is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

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