Raise your hand if you truly feel happy.
If you raised your hand, great! If not, why? Take a moment to think about what’s holding you back from happiness. Maybe you’re thinking, “If I had more money, I’d be happy.” Maybe you wish to have more friends, a better job, or the ability to travel.
Promotions, new relationships, vacations, and even winning the lottery can give you a temporary boost in happiness, however they often don’t have a lasting effect. Each of us has a baseline level of happiness that we quickly return to once the initial excitement of these events begins to wear off. Sustained happiness takes work!
Listed below are some exercises that, when practiced frequently, can build genuine and lasting happiness. Increasing your baseline happiness will help when major events begin to fade. As you read through the list, notice which exercises you are already engaging in, and which ones you could begin incorporating into your daily routine. Place intention behind these exercises and watch as your happiness begins to grow. No lottery ticket, plane ticket, or updated resume needed!
Exercise: The positive effects of exercise are astounding. Physically active people have increased energy, superior immune systems, and a frequent sense of accomplishment. Exercise can reduce insomnia, stimulate brain growth, and even act as an anti-depressant. Be intentional about exercising to feel better, not to look better. Try not to worry about the numbers on the scale and focus on the way exercise makes you feel. If your pants begin to button a little easier, consider it an added bonus!
Meditation: Research has linked meditation with reduced anxiety and more positive emotions. Those who meditate regularly may even permanently restructure their brains to create sustained happiness. Meditation is not always easy, but there are some great resources out there that can help. Try out the Calm app, or look up guided meditations on YouTube if you need assistance.
Gratitudes: Identify at least one thing for which you are grateful every day. Don’t worry if it seems simple or mundane. Identifying gratitudes will help you identify positive aspects of even the worst days.
Acts of kindness: Make a conscious effort to do something nice for no reason other than to help. You might be surprised how a simple act of kindness can turn around the day for both you and the kindness recipient. Some simple ways of working acts of kindness into your day include donating to homeless and animal shelters, volunteering, helping a neighbor with yard work, or even sending a smile in someone’s direction.
Positive journaling: Take some time to write about positive events in your life. Write about a fun day spent with friends, a good movie, or an activity you enjoyed. Positive journaling will get you into the habit of focusing on the positive. Don’t focus too much on the length of your journal entries! Short and sweet can be just as beneficial as filling a few pages.
Fostering relationships: Strong social connections are thought to be one of the most powerful influences on our mood. Those who are dedicated to spending time with friends and family show the highest levels of happiness. If you can’t see your loved ones every day you can still send a text or make a phone call. When it comes to relationships, quality can be more important than quantity. Stay focused on the strength of the relationships you have as opposed to the amount of relationships.