How can you be happier?
What do you measure to decide if you are happy of not?
Do you, like most people, have a set mental list of things you think you need to have in order to be truly happy?
There are many externals our society teaches us we have to have to feel happy: success, wealth, fame, power, good looks, love, children, houses.
But are they really the key to our happiness?
Society today puts so much pressure on us to conform to certain standards or reach certain levels, but are we really doing that for ourselves or to give the impression to others we are happy?
Tips to follow to cultivate happiness:
Train your brain to be more positive
Our brains are wired to notice and remember the things that are wrong.
It’s a survival mechanism that helped keep our cave-dwelling ancestors safe in a world where there were many physical threats.
But in today’s comparatively safe world, this biological predisposition to focus on the negative contributes to stress and unhappiness.
While we can’t change our nature, but we can train our brains to be more positive.
This doesn’t mean putting on a smiley face and whistling a happy tune no matter what’s going on.
You don’t have to ignore reality or pretend things are wonderful even when they’re not. But just as dwelling on negative things fuels unhappiness (and plays a big role in depression and anxiety), choosing to notice, appreciate, and anticipate positive thoughts is a powerful happiness booster.
Teaching yourself to become more grateful can make a huge difference in your overall happiness.
The research shows gratitude helps you experience more positive emotions, decrease depression, feel better about yourself, improve your relationships, and strengthen your immune system.
A recent study revealed that gratitude even makes you smarter about how you spend your money – something that can only be a good thing.
Live in the moment and savour life’s pleasures
Think about a time when you were depressed or anxious.
Chances are, you were either dwelling on something negative from the past or worrying about something yet to happen in the future.
In contrast, when you focus on the present moment, you are much more likely to feel centred, happy, and calmer.
You’re also much more likely to notice the good things that are happening, rather than letting them pass you by unappreciated or unobserved.
Take better care of your health
You can be happy even when you’re suffering from illness or bad health, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the aspects of your health that are in your control.
I know this from personal experience from my 3 cancer treatments so far, your health is so important and you are the only one who can do something about it.
Exercise and sleep are particularly important when it comes to happiness and not dwelling on the negative.
Make exercise a regular habit
Exercise isn’t just good for the body. It also has a powerful effect on mental well-being.
People who exercise regularly are happier across the board.
Plus, they’re also less stressed, angry, anxious, and depressed.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, so long as you do it regularly.
For best results, aim for an 30-60 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
If you find something you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
So don’t think you’re limited to going to the gym or lacing up jogging shoes. Find something that suits your lifestyle and preferences.
It could be taking a dance class, shooting hoops, walking in nature, joining a community sports team, playing tennis, running with your dog, swimming laps at the pool, hiking, biking, or doing yoga in the park.
If you’re having trouble thinking of activities you enjoy, think back to when you were a kid. What sports or games did you like to play and go from there.
Get the sleep you need
Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality, and emotional stability during the day.
When your sleep deprived, you’re much more susceptible to stress.
It’s harder to be productive, think creatively, and make wise decisions. How much sleep do you need? You should be aiming for a minimum of 7 hours sleep every night.
Get to bed by 10.30am, reduce the amount of phone and TV 1 hour before bed and make sure your room is a calming place to sleep.
We are in control our our lives and how we live it, and being happy is key. So take some time for yourself.