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13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

You know how some people seem to be happy no matter what happens to them?  They always have a positive outlook on life. They seem to enjoy things more than you and me, and their relationships with people thrive in a way that we only imagine.  You’ve probably wondered what it is about them that makes happiness so easy for them.  Well it turns out there is no special trick to happiness.  Just like anything else, it’s just something that we have to learn to make a habit.  Incorporate the following 14 behaviors into your daily life and you’ll find that happiness habits surround you.

1. Change Your Perspective

There are plenty of reasons to not be happy.  Someone cut you off on the way to work.  You got a ticket.  You made a bad grade or got a less than stellar performance review, etc.  The interesting thing about not feeling happy when these things happen is that you aren’t in control.  You have chosen to let external forces dictate how you feel about life.  When you learn that you have control over these things, simply by changing your perspective, the whole world changes.  For example, take the “someone cut you off on the way to work” scenario.  By making an excuse for that person, such as that they are rushing to get their pregnant wife to the hospital (or some other emergency), you excuse their wrongdoing and are not negatively affected by it.  Hopefully they make it to the hospital in time and bring a beautiful child into the world.  It turns out Your Perception IS Your Reality.

2. Get Some Sunlight

Sunlight makes us happy.  UV rays hit the skin and the body begins to produce vitamin D ( vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression, among other things).  When the sunlight hits your eyes it signals to your brain to slow down secretion of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep), and increases secretion of serotonin (a hormone associated with happiness and wakefulness).  What does all of this mean?  Getting more sun will make you happier.  If you aren’t getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on your skin per day, it’s a good idea to try and get out more.  Take a walk during lunch, sit outside for a few minutes instead of watching TV.  Make time for it.

3. Make a Life List

Life lists are awesome.  They are the theme park of life planning.  Think about the things you want to experience and accomplish before you die.  While it may sound like a morbid pursuit, it’s actually pretty life changing and inspirational.  Especially when you make plans to start checking things off your life list.

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4. Learn a New Hobby

Hobbies are fun ways to experience happiness.  Whether you love to cook, play games, paint, or anything else, the joy of learning a new hobby is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can embark upon.  When starting a new hobby, focus on the joy of just experiencing something new. There is something magical about being a “newbie,” because with every experience there is something to be gained.

5. Focus on Appreciation and Gratefulness

Learning to show appreciation and to be grateful for what you have is, in itself, a reward.  People who express appreciation and take time be grateful are happier and have more positive outlooks on life. Start with a simple experiment.  Every night before you go to bed, write down something that happened throughout the day that you are grateful for.  It wont take long before that habit changes your entire perspective.

6. Meditate Regularly

While meditation often gets the reputation of being spiritual and strange to those who don’t partake, it has benefits for practically everyone who gives it a real chance.  I don’t see meditation as spiritual. I see it as therapeutic.  I sit quietly for 5-10 minutes per day (I don’t time it‒I just do it), and focus on me.  Sometimes I close my eyes; sometimes I don’t.  But I focus on my breathing, I take stock on how I feel (physically and mentally), and I visualize what my day is going to look like.  It’s almost like a pre-game ritual.  Try it.  You wont be disappointed.

Check out How to Meditate: 10 Steps to Meditate Anywhere

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7. Embrace Your Fears

Fear is one of the big zappers of happiness.  Fear leads us to worry, causing stress and a focus on negativity.  One way to stop fear is to begin welcoming it into your life.  Obviously you don’t want to jump into the deep end on this one, but start small and start tackling your fears.  You’ll find yourself stronger, more confident, and happier with every fear tackled.

8. Smile More

Where I live, it’s a common occurrence to exchange smiles with anyone you come into contact with. I’ve traveled enough to know this isn’t a common practice everywhere, but I think it should be. Smiling is easy to do, feels good, tells your brain you’re happy, and can be the one happy thing the receiver of your smile sees that day.  You can brighten up the lives of people around you with just a flash of your pearly whites.  With that kind of power comes great responsibility.  Use it, and use it often!

Check out 7 Benefits of Smiling and Laughing that You Didn’t Know About

9. Exercise Regularly

There are numerous benefits to exercise.  I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of that.  Stress relief, health benefits, etc.  But my personal favorite benefit is the release of endorphins.  They are natural pain and stress relievers, and they make you feel great.  I didn’t believe in the endorphin rush, or Runner’s High, as it’s commonly referred, until I started running.  Now I can’t get enough.

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10. Embrace Your Negativity

Some people swallow and repress the negative thoughts and feelings they have, thinking this will somehow make them happier.  Unfortunately, it always seems to come back, manifesting in stress, physical pain, or otherwise.  The truth about the negativity is that it’s necessary to understand and accept that sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes you will be stressed.  Sometimes things will happen that you have no control over.  Understanding and accepting this will reduce the stress you feel from repression, allowing you to get back to the things that make you happy.

11. Challenge Yourself

One of the greatest things you can do in life is to set the bar high and then achieve.  By challenging yourself in ways that are achievable, but require work, you continue to work hard and improve yourself, often times leading to the outcome of being satisfied not with the accomplishment, but with the progress that you’ve made simply by having the goal.  Set challenging goals, and then create realistic plans to achieve them.  Every achievement becomes another step on the staircase towards your greatest, happiest self.

12. Volunteer Your Time

There is no quicker way to feel happy than to help someone else, especially someone in need of help.  Volunteering your time is addicting, not just because you’re helping people in need, but because you feel good doing it.  It’s a humbling way to honor humanity and be grateful for the blessings that you’ve received.  There’s tons of reasons for the good feelings associated with volunteering, but suffice it to say it’s a no-brainer for both quick and long-term happiness.

Check out 11 Facts About Volunteering That Will Surely Impress You

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13. Posture and Breathing

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  Do it a few more times.  Feel that? Posture and breathing have a profound affect on your outlook on life.  In just a few moments, hunching and taking weak, shallow breaths can sap the life right out of you.  Focus on sitting up with your shoulder back and taking deep breaths as often as possible, and you’ll be happier throughout the day.

What did we miss?  What steps have you taken towards making happiness a habit? Tell us your habit in the comments below.

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

Why It’s Never Too Late To Redefine Yourself

Why It’s Never Too Late To Redefine Yourself

The ability to reinvent and redefine yourself is a bold, daring and purposeful choice. It doesn’t just happen. You have to make a conscious, intentional choice and then follow through.

If the thought of forging a new path, changing habits, thought patterns and your inner circle of friends scares you – you’re not alone. Change can be a very scary thing. It takes courage, fortitude and a bit of faith to decide to shed your old self and don a new persona. However, it is one of the most critical processes one must repeatedly endure in the pursuit of destiny. Change unlocks new levels of potential.

The Need for Change

Everyday when we wake up, we make a decision. We decide to follow our routine or we decide to go off script and shake things up a bit. For those who are creatures of habit, routine is comfortable, easy and produces very little stress. The problem with this is, after a while you stop growing.

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We all reinvent ourselves at some point in our lives. It is absolutely necessary to achieve certain levels of success.

Reflect back on who you were as a teenager and then who you were at 25. Those are two very different people. Most of us are completely different. Your thought patterns changed, your appearance, job, level of education and even your friends– changed. We like to refer to this as “growing up” or maturing and consider it to be one of life’s natural progressions. However the changes you made were purposeful and deliberate.

This process must be a lifelong and continuous cycle. You are never too old to refresh yourself.

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Happy_old_man

    Signs It’s Time to Redefine

    “Just as established products and brands need updating to stay alive and vibrant, you periodically need to refresh or reinvent yourself.”– Mireille Guiliano

    So how do you know when it’s time for a system upgrade? There are signs along the way that alert you that it is time for an overhaul. The first sign is the feeling of being stuck. If you feel like you are in a rut, you’re bored with life or you need some newness and excitement, a self reinvention may be in order. Re-evaluate your life vision and your goals. Is that vision still valid and are your goals consistent with your vision and–are they achievable? If you are off course, it’s time for a change. If you are not moving forward and making progress, it’s time for a change.

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    In life, there’s no such thing as neutrality–you’re either moving forward or you are moving backward. Time constantly moves forward and if you are standing still, you are actually losing ground. No matter your age or stage in life– there is always room for improvement.

    “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” ~C. S. Lewis

    The second sign that you are due for a change is the occurrence of major life events in which change is forced upon you. Getting married, starting a new job, being promoted, ending a relationship, becoming a parenting or relocating are all prime opportunities to completely overhaul your life.

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    When these major shifts occur in your life–you have to shift with them. You can’t have a single mentality and have a successful marriage. You can’t remain selfish and irresponsible, and raise a healthy, well-adjusted child. You can’t be promoted to a supervisory position and keep the same subordinate attitude. Each level of success requires something different from you.

    Aronld in Predator

      Consider, for a moment, Arnold Schwarzenegger. People may have different opinions about his character and some of his life choices, but he is a master at reinventing himself. He achieved the ultimate success as a professional body builder by earning the title “Mr. Universe” three times. He then earned a tremendous amount of fame and fortune in the entertainment industry making action/adventure films. And in his latest role, he served two terms as the Governor of California. He succeeded as a professional body builder, a film star and a politician. Each role required massive amounts of change, commitment, strength and hard work.

      And if Arnold can do it…so can you!

      Featured photo credit: BK via flickr.com

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