Happiness really is a state of mind. Everyone defines it a bit differently. For some, it’s contentment, others satisfaction, some pleasure, some joy, some well-being, and for others just “feeling all right”.
Your happiness is influenced both by your perception of what’s going on in your life and actual environmental occurrences. Happy people actually do things that keep them happy. In other words, they actively pursue happiness, sometimes instinctively, sometimes because they’ve learned good habits, other times because they feel the need to be even happier.
Think about Scrat, the squirrel from the Ice Age films. He’s oh so happy when he finally gets his tiny hands on his beloved acorn. But think also that Scrat goes to great lengths to move toward his goal. As long as he is moving toward the goal, actually taking steps forward, he’s moving closer to his nut every moment. Luckily, you don’t have to scale icebergs or slide off cliffs to be happy, but you do have to work at it. Here are twenty things, in no particular order, that you can do to help yourself move your brain toward a happier perception of yourself and your world.
Exercise: Movement is literally a golden ticket toward happiness. You look better and feel better when you exercise. Not a gym fan? Find a friend and go for a hike. Or just dust off that “Buns of Steel” video and get to it.
Have an open mind. Don’t be quick to judge. Work to combat bitterness. Show tolerance. The more open your mind, the less you’ll stress. The less you stress, the happier you’ll be.
Eat right: “Right” is different for different people with different activity levels and states of wellness. Do some actual research. Make small changes over time if you have trouble sticking to a “cleaner” diet.
Keep things simple: Don’t overcomplicate your life with clutter, either emotional or physical. Clean one room in your house. We’re talking SPOTLESS and NEAT. Continue until the whole thing is done. Reduce emotional clutter by talking about your feelings with someone you trust.
Smile a lot: Smiling is a very powerful signal to others that you’re happy. It’s also self-fulfilling. The very act of smiling can contribute to your own happiness.
Go outside and play: Yes, OUTSIDE. Even if it’s for a few minutes. Take a walk. Get some air.
Consciously maintain a positive outlook on life: If you feel yourself spiraling into negativity–stop, think, meditate, catch yourself. Find the silver lining. Work on being, sounding, and living a more positive existence. Sounds trite, but it works, very well.
Drink water: Lack of water literally shifts your body into survival mode and that surpasses hormones and other chemicals in your body that contribute to a feeling of happiness.
Do something unselfish: Re-watch the movie “Pay It Forward” and remember what it feels like to do a selfless act. It might be as simple as opening a door for a stranger, helping a friend, or contributing to a charity.
Sleep: Happy people get 6-8 hours of quality sleep every night. Make time to get that sleep, even if it means curtailing your busy social calendar or delaying your binge-watch of “Orange is the New Black”. If you’re not sleeping well, try getting a massage, or sitting quietly WITHOUT your digital device for 30 minutes before bedtime.
Excel instead of compare: An obsession with keeping up with others almost always distracts us from knowing our own happiness. You will probably not be happy doing things just because someone else does them. Focus on being the best YOU instead.
Wake up early: Happy people rise earlier and don’t waste their day. After your good night’s sleep, get moving. Use those hours productivity.
Pay attention to your money: Don’t obsess, but pay attention. If things get out of control, ask for help. Look at most of the things on this list. They don’t cost money.
Shower: Yes. Shower. Being and feeling clean leads to better health and happiness.
Learn what makes you relax: If you don’t know, try things. Meditation, massage, sitting under a tree, being by yourself, listening to music, chilling with a friend.
Make a list and actually follow through: Happy people are generally pretty organized. Keep a realistic to-do list and put one or two things on the list that are super easy to do. Check those off and keep going.
Move on when something negative happens: Humans are amazing creatures. We have the innate ability to snap back and recover from tragedy or strife. Learn from what happens and take good time to process it, but then move on. Forgive.
Spend time with other people: Research suggests the happiest people hang out with other people. Happiness is contagious. Make it a point to think happy thoughts next time you’re with a friend, neighbor, partner, or perfect stranger. It will positively change the direction of your own feelings and the feelings of those around you.
Learn something new: Keeping your mind sharp leads to happiness and learning new things helps you find even more things that help you feel happy.
And there you go. You have already taking your first step to greater happiness by reading this post. Think of it as your first step today toward more happiness. Look around you and check out people around you who appear happy, you’ll likely learn they do most of these things. So can you. So go get happier already.