Just as you own your phone and your car, you also own your happiness. You would never depend on just anyone to buy your food or pick out your clothes. So why do we depend on others to make us happy?
We shouldn’t, it’s that simple. Our state of happiness is solely our responsibility. You really start enjoying life when you’ve built your happiness on a solid infrastructure based on understanding all the details that go into the making of you.
While that may sound daunting at first, it’s actually good news. It frees you from being tied down to someone else’s frame of mind or being stressed out by any bad situation. You can actually feel better knowing that it’s all in your control.
Here are 4 ways to consciously add more happiness to your life:
What matters to you the most in life? Make a list of any and all non-materialistic, physical elements that really make a difference on your state of happiness.
- Family/Friendship/healthy connection with others
The Framingham Heart Study followed 4700 people for over 20 years to analyze what affects their happiness. They found out that our happiness influenced by up to three degrees of separation. Interesting enough, this doesn’t apply to co-workers.
Our happiness increases by 15.3% when our 1st-degree members in our lives (parents, siblings, and children) are happy. 2nd and 3rd-degree members in our lives enhance our happiness by 9.8% and 5.6% respectively. This is because talking with those who understand and support you gives you a sense of safety and comfort. So place yourself in the middle of a positive social circle because that upbeat feeling is contagious.
- Service to others/compassion
According to the University of Exeter, volunteering was found to boost happiness and lessen depression. Also, a study done by the University of California, doing something kind for someone else can boost our mood.
More than 300 studies were carried out on how spirituality and faith linked to a greater feeling of well-being and overall happiness. Meditation, which is also a large part of most religions, has been proven to diminish symptoms of mild depression as well as decrease stress levels.
- Meaningful career
One of the most fulfilling ways to accomplish a sense of purpose in your life is to grow on a personal level. Find a career that helps you grow as a person and provides you with a sense of fulfillment. Get out of your comfort zone, and try pushing your limits little by little until you find a career that excites you, one that you’re passionate about.
Being In The Moment
One way to control your own joy is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness living is all about living consciously, concentrating on what you’re doing in the moment, without daydreaming or reminiscing. Becoming more present in your life – really being aware of where you are, how you’re feeling and what you’re doing – takes some practice to get used to, but its effect is incredible.
An excellent way to do this is to engage your five senses in everything you’re doing in the present moment. It’s such a great way to improve your mood. And it goes a long way in proving that all being happy really boils down to is a series of deliberate, really well-thought-out choices.
Enjoying A Healthy Lifestyle
We all know how exercise improves our physical health, but what people tend to ignore is how it affects our temperament and mental health as well. According to a British research study in 2014, working out 3 times a week decreases the risk of depression by 16%. Any activity you choose that gets your heart pumping will give you the energy your body and mind need to go about your day, and it’s definitely great in the long run.
Even a 15-minute walk is a sure mood-booster. It’s an amazing, refreshing way to alter your state of mind and body.
Our diet significantly affects how we feel. If you’re not paying attention to what you eat, your body and your mind will quickly let you know; you start to feel sluggish, run-down, tired, and moody. Your body can’t do its job properly if it’s not getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you healthy and happy. On average, you need to eat the following daily:
– 6-8 ounces of whole grains daily
– 3 cups of fresh vegetables
– 2 cups of fresh fruit
– 3 cups of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
– 6 ounces of lean protein (seafood, poultry, beans, nuts, eggs, seeds, tofu)
Water should be a big part of your daily diet. Men should drink about 3 liters/day. Women about half a liter less, but it also mainly depends on what the climate is like where you live.
Drinking soda increases the risk of depression by 30%, but coffee lowers it by 10%. Also, it has so many other healthy benefits. We should also drink 2 cups of 100% fruit juice every day.
Try to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages altogether or at least keep them to a minimum. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol directly linked to acting impulsively, making bad decisions and it’s one of the leading causes of depression.
It’s unfortunate that many people consider getting 6-8 hours of sleep an indulgence because of their tight work schedules, project deadlines, kids, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. However, researchers are always carrying out studies on the impact sleep has on our daily lives, our bodies, our mental health. Researchers have reached a consensus that sleep plays a significant role in leading a happy, balanced, and enjoyable life.
It makes sense considering how tired and moody we are the next day when we don’t get our fair share of sleep. 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, keeps us happy, energized, and more focused. It’s a cycle because the happier you are, the better you’re able to sleep. And the better you sleep, the happier you are.
- Accept Who You Are and What You Have
Proven to be an eye-opener when it comes to realizing your own happiness, accepting who you are and what you have means you don’t live by anyone’s rules or standards. We live in a society where we’re always to make everyone around us happy, without really stopping to consider our own happiness.
Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection, – you’ll never reach it.” Holding yourself to a high standard is good, but remember that people are inherently imperfect. So don’t compare yourself to an ideal self that isn’t easily reachable.
It was Mother Teresa who said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” It may sound a bit naive, but there’s a science behind it that’s utterly convincing as smiling makes our brains feel good, this triggers our brain’s reward system, which makes us smile, and so forth.
It’s a great physiological trick where the body affects the mind, and vice versa. When you smile, you ease the tension in your facial muscles and send a message to your brain that you’re not stressed out, but in fact, happy as a clam.
You’ll also be giving the people around you a little boost, which could be the very thing they needed to get through the day. This is why we’re happier around children because smiling comes naturally to them.
- Sit up Straight
Another great physiological trick that tricks our minds into being happy is sitting up straight. When you’re worried or tensed up while working at your desk or on your computer, you instantly hunch up, and your muscles are tied up in tight knots – a clear sign that you’re suffering from mental anguish.
Sitting up straight, sticking your chest out, and raising your head high restore that feeling of confidence and focus. If you remember to do this every time you feel slumped over with stress and anxiety, you will see a vast improvement in how you advance towards your goals in the long run.
Now turn this slight posture adjustment into a daily habit, and you’ll be oozing confidence in no time.
- Try New Things
Doing something you’ve never tried before renews your sense of energy and self-confidence. You can try a new fitness class you heard about. Or go to lunch at that new restaurant you’ve wanted to try. Anything that gets you unstuck from your routine will remind you that life is still full of new, surprising experiences.
You can live a happier life if you choose to, and take action to back that decision. You have the power to make the necessary changes in your life. As long as you’re moving forward, you’ll get there.
Remember what Ben Sweetland, author, and psychologist, says, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” So make today the day you make your happiness a top priority.