You wake up and go to work.
You exchange hellos and go to a meeting. You have lunch with someone special. You leave the office.
You grab dinner and drinks with friends. You go home. You go to bed. You can’t sleep.
You find yourself thinking, “Is something missing?”
Are you happy?
You may be content, but are you truly happy?
Real happiness is something that people constantly look for. It is a universal life goal to find happiness.
But how do we find happiness? We can’t buy it.
It’s something that eludes the majority of the people on the planet, and we envy the people who display genuine joy. We buy their books and we emulate their style, all in hopes of learning how to be like them.
But the common denominator I noticed in all of these successfully happy people is that they came to a point where they took charge of their lives.
They were like everyone else once, just getting by with whatever the world threw at them. But that changed when they changed. And your world will once something in you changes, too.
You can increase your happiness right now by applying any or all of these scientifically proven tips. Here’s what the outcome of research and experimentation has to say about creating your own happiness.
1. Be active but let your body recharge
Physical activity can increase happiness and will make you healthier. The Happiness Advantage explains a study wherein three groups of patients were treated for depression separately with medication, exercise, and a combination of both. All three groups showed increased levels of happiness.
Six months later, they were tested for relapse assessment. The relapse rate for those who took medication alone was 38%. The combination group had a rate of 31%. Guess what the relapse rate was for the exercise group? Only 9%!
There must be a psychological explanation here somewhere where relying on medications to make someone happy releases a person from any kind of responsibility to take charge. It could have made them feel that the happiness depended on a pill and wasn’t something that they can genuinely claim as their own.
Shifting to an active lifestyle need not be hard. You can even start with just seven minutes a day — just a tiny fraction of how much time people waste on average on social media.
You can even let your phone in on it by downloading one of the many popular fitness apps that keep track of your daily activity.
But remember, working out is secondary to sleep. Don’t abuse your body with too much activity that deprives it the opportunity to rest and recharge.
During sleep, our body recovers and repairs itself for the next day. Getting enough sleep gives us more focus and makes us more productive.
It also affects how sensitive we are to negative emotions. Sleep deprivation increases activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes negative stimuli.
Lack of sleep can lead to poor work performance, irritable behavior, anger, and even depression. A 15-minute power nap in the middle of the day can work wonders because it helps reset your system and gives you a burst of energy.
So stop putting off sleep. Put on your nightcap and nap-cap instead.
2. Find an alternative to long commutes
A few hours after the day begins, it’s already ruined for those who endure tumultuous commuting to work.
It was discovered that commuting affects marriages as well. If one partner in a marriage commutes for more than 45 minutes a day, the marriage is 40% more likely to end in divorce.
If you’re looking for a new job, take into consideration how much time it will take you to get to and from work, especially if you’re married. Given this scientific discovery, it would be counter-intuitive to go about creating the same mistake that took a lot of marriages as casualties.
If you already have a job, move closer to your office and say goodbye to commuting woes.
You will definitely be happier.
3. Adopt a furry buddy
Having pets has been found to increase joy and self-esteem, and can also reduce depression.
That is why pets are often prescribed as part of a therapy regimen. Pets come with responsibilities, but they reciprocate it with feelings of purpose, being needed, and even love.
Having a dog requires taking it for a walk from time to time. This helps the owner experience the outside world at a more relaxed pace, and forces them to be at least a little active.
And visiting areas like parks and other relaxing, nature-ridden sites is not only physically but likewise psychologically healthy for the individual.
4. Appreciate what you have and be kind to others
Being grateful and finding contentment is a journey in itself, but it’s something achievable with baby steps. You can start the habit of seeing the good in every day by keeping a journal of 10 things you can be grateful for. It can comprise both random and significant events.
During particularly tough days, you can revisit earlier entries in your journal to see how much good and happiness have already come your way. This becomes an instant pick-me-upper, an investment for the gloomy rainy days.
Keeping this journal will help you be more perceptive about your surroundings. It keeps you alert and optimistic which then translate to positive emotions. It also reminds you just how many good things happen to you all the time, even though your brain tends to focus on and therefore remember the negative.
Oh, another thing: write, not type. People who write remember more and have a deeper understanding of the material compared to those who type with keyboards.
To up the ante, try being the giver and not just the documenter of happiness. It’s very enriching to take part in giving happiness to someone else.
Random acts of kindness, good deeds, and helping people can contribute greatly to how you feel. Researchers found out that people are happier when they are engaging in these kinds of activities.
Some feel that people will be happier if they have more. The truth is, people feel happier when they themselves serve as the source of happiness of others.
5. Meditate. Get in the “Zen”
Meditation helps improve focus and attention span. Further research has shown that, after meditating, people find a sense of calm and contentment.
In Massachusetts, a study was conducted on people before and after a course in meditation. Results showed that the parts of the brain associated with stress shrank, while parts of the brain associated with compassion grew.
Meditation gives you the power to “rewire” your way of thinking, proving that a change in perspective allows us greater happiness.
Aside from happiness, meditation can also give you more than 70 scientifically proven benefits. How’s that for maximum mileage on an hour’s session?
6. Exercise your brain
Learning is a psychological need for humans.
Learning a new skill or a new fact can lead to more happiness as well. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, like cooking a new dish or learning a new language.
The brain is also a muscle, which means that it needs exercise. When people are engaged in learning new things, parts of the brain responsible for happiness also benefit from the process.
You also feel certain levels of accomplishment every time you succeed in something new.
Practice smiling genuinely — not only with your lips but also your eyes. Smiling makes you feel better, improves your attention span, and reduces pain.
When getting used to the practice of smiling, revert to happy thoughts and things you can be thankful about. This will help make the habit more of a response rather than a chore.
A study reported that just thinking about something good has the power to make you smile. So saturate your mind with memories and thoughts that channel positive vibrations enough to keep those lips upturned.
In fact, don’t limit it to smiling. Be generous with your laughter, as it works miracles in boosting your mood, not to mention fighting off wrinkles as it exercises your facial muscles.
Laughter is potent enough to reduce anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression.
So start showing off that gorgeous smile. Who knows? It might brighten more days than just your own.
People think of happiness as a response rather than a disposition. That’s why many people miss out on the secret because they are always looking for reasons external to them to be happy.
Find happiness within yourself, with who you are. Once you see your life in a brighter light, it heals something in you.
Parting with the words of Leo Tolstoy, “If you want to be happy, be.”
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