We think it’s pretty safe to assume none of us would say no to a little extra happiness in our lives. Whether you’re going through a rough time or you just want to add a little fun to break up the repetition of your busy day we’ve come up with 8 simple ways to bring some much needed joy into your life. These are so simple, you can even do a few of them while reading this post, so get reading and get happier!
1. Be In The Now
Worrying about the “What if’s” in life is the quickest and easiest way to get yourself down in the dumps. Instead of focusing on what could happen in the future, use your mind to focus on what is happening now.
Chances are, you aren’t going to be able to change what might happen tomorrow – maybe you’ll lose your job, maybe you’ll win the lottery, maybe you’ll have a perfectly average day, whatever happens will be out of your control.
While “what if’s” can sometimes result in beneficial planning or strategizing – for example, if a storm is coming – most of the time they do nothing but waste your time and cause unnecessary worry and stress. Instead, if you focus on what you are experiencing at this moment, you will be using all you senses to appreciate the sights, sounds and smells that surround you and your brain will thank you with happiness.
2. Be Grateful
As we’ve mentioned before in a few of our previous posts, practicing gratitude is one of the best and fastest ways to increase your happiness. Simply making a list of all the things that are going right as opposed to wrong in your daily life will bring you quickly to the realization that things really aren’t that bad.
According to Inc.com, we often expect happy things to make us feel grateful, but the fact of the matter is, it’s feeling grateful for things that makes us perceive them as happy. Practicing feeling grateful for the little things in your day can instantly turn it around. Stepped in a puddle on your way to work and ruined your shoes? Be thankful you have those shoes and that you’re well enough off to get another pair.
Putting bad happenings in perspective will go a long way to making you appreciate all the things you have in your life. Writing them down is just an added way to remind yourself of them each and everyday. Soon it will become a mindless habit and your overall outlook on life will be happier and healthier.
3. Be Realistic
Chasing your dreams is one of the many things that can bring happiness to your day. Maybe you dream of becoming rich, famous or successful? These are great aspirations to have and working towards them will indeed make you happier, but keep in mind why you want to achieve these things.
Do you find yourself believing that a large sum of money or a sudden rise to stardom will make your life happier? Well, we hate to break it to you but this likely won’t be the case. Dan Gilbert (Psychologist) explains that our brains are actually wired to be happy with the lives we have, no matter what they are. So just because you become famous, win the lottery or reach major success, there’s no saying that you would be any less happy if you hadn’t accomplished those things.
Be happy with the life you have. Never stop reaching for your goals, but keep in mind that you can be happy no matter the situations in your life (although that may seem impossible at times).
4. Be Adventurous
While it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, it can buy adventures, new experiences and things that will enrich your life. Instead of rushing to the mall to spend money next time you’re feeling down, use that money to buy yourself an experience that you will remember forever.
For example, maybe you’ve always dreamed of skydiving out of a plane or climbing a mountain? Spending your money on things that will make this happen will contribute to your overall happiness, whereas buying random junk, will not.
One particularly good example of this is paying for a pet. Sure, they can be very expensive but the amount of joy you will get from them over your lifetime will be priceless. This can also ring true for an expensive vacation to an exotic destination. It may seem like a splurge at the time but the memories will keep you happy forever. Do the things your future self may regret not doing.
5. Challenge Yourself
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a believer that happiness resides in something he calls flow. Flow is the feeling we get when we are doing something we love, are good at and have probably done before. It correlates perfectly with the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun”.
When we experience flow everything else in the world seems to disappear. This may happen to you when you’re practicing your favourite activity, whether it be something creative like painting or recreational like a high-intensity game of basketball. When time starts to fly, you are truly in your happiness zone.
Csikszentmihalyi states that we can also experience flow when doing something challenging, like building a puzzle, solving a Rubik’s cube or even playing a hard video game. The complete opposite of flow would be boredom, where the days and hours seem to drag on endlessly. Which makes sense, because how many times have you said to yourself, “Man, I’m so happy that I’m painfully bored!”? Our guess is probably never.
6. Be Generous
Want to make yourself instantly happier? Make someone else happy. This could possibly be the most studied and scientifically measured determinants of a persons happiness.
According to Business Insider, a review of 40 studies done over 20 years showed that making others happy (in most cases, by volunteering) was the most important activity for a psychological boost.
Another study in 2008 tested two groups of individuals by giving them money either to spend on themselves or on others. The volunteers recorded their happiness levels before and after the exercise and the results showed that the people who spent their money on others were significantly happier than those who spent it on themselves.
Being generous also helps us tap into our grateful side as well, by reminding us of how lucky we are to be able to help others in need.
7. Get Sweating
Your physical health is directly tied to your mental and emotional health, therefore a happy body will equal a happy mind. Not only does this go for exercising, but also for eating well, reducing stress and providing ourselves with enough relaxation and sleep.
Clinical Psychologist Jennifer Jones recommends these three tips for getting your body and mind happier:
- Honour your circadian rhythm. This means going to bed just after sunset and waking up just after sunrise. While this may not always be possible, it will create a healthier functioning brain and therefore a happier outlook.
- Incorporate play. Playing isn’t just for kids! Easy ways to add play to your daily routine are through exercise (think hula hooping, trampolining, dancing) or by having fun with friends. Being silly, laughing and having a good time will always make you happier.
- Meditate. Taking a few minutes each day to clear you head and relax your mind and body will help your mind recuperate from the stress and anxiety of the day. Give yourself 10-15 minutes everyday to just relax and reset.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are pretty much your bodies happy molecule.
8. Nurture Friendships
Friends are often the first thing to get cast aside when we decide our lives are getting too busy. When in fact, they are the last thing we should ever be throwing away. Having friends is a major benefit for your overall mental and emotional health (something Netflix simply can’t do) and your relationships with them should be top priority.
Andrea Bonior, a Clinical Psychologist, says that in the times we think we don’t have time for our friends, that is really the time that we need them the most. In fact, you can squeeze a lot of these happiness techniques into a single outing with a good friend. For example, say you take them out for dinner and help them get through a break up – which results in having a few laughs and trying something new and exciting? Or maybe you want to take a dance class with friend and add in some much needed play time?
The possibilities are endless, you can use any of these tips individually or group them together for a happiness overflow! Whichever you decide, make sure you’re making time for fun and happiness in your life. Your brain and body will thank you.