Who wouldn’t want to find happiness in life? Now the scientific research backs up what we’ve always intuitively known. Here are 10 simple steps you can take to increase happiness in your life.
1. Do good to feel good.
You get a nice hit of feel-good endorphins when you help someone else. Give time, money, love, or energy. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can give someone a hug or a compliment. Or you can write a note of acknowledgment, pop in to visit someone who is lonely or reach out to help someone who is struggling. This is an easy and free way to find happiness in life.
2. Build strong relationships.
People who have many loving relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Make it a priority to spend time with the people you love, make new friends and strengthen your existing friendships. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by spending more time with your family. For example, call your parents and tell them you love them, play with your kids, and set up a weekly game or a movie night with friends. To make new friends, join a club or organization that sounds like fun (e.g., a walking club, book club, sports). Small, kind gestures make a big difference to building and strengthening relationships. Send a thoughtful note or an invite to have coffee or meet for lunch. (Tip: Get your personal and emotional needs met and you’ll find it easier to attract the people and opportunities you want.)
You’ve heard it before, but science confirms that exercise makes us happier overall and can relieve depression. Find happiness in life by introducing exercise and healthy habits in the following ways. Spend time outdoors and get fresh air every day. Walk, eat fresh fruit and veggies, get plenty of sleep. Drink filtered water. Try yoga or dance, join a gym or Cross-fit…just get moving and you’ll feel better. In fact, exercise is so important to our health and well-being that any investment in your health will save you money in the long run. So, if you lack motivation, then hire a personal trainer. In time you’ll discover your inner motivation. Join a gym. It is okay to start small and easy. Take a five-minute walk. Just starting is the key.
4. Focus on the present and enjoy the moment fully.
Another way to find happiness in life is to be mindful. Notice your surroundings. Enjoy the small things in life. Georgia O’Keeffe painted her flowers large so we would notice them. Her reason for this was that, “Nobody sees a flower really, it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time—like to have a friend takes time.” Tip: it helps to unplug and slow down. Try a phone-free day or evening. Write in a journal to give yourself time to reflect on the day. Jot down the small things you are grateful for in a diary. Try a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace.
5. Have something to look forward to every day.
Set a big goal that excites you and may even scare you a bit. Then get some support to reach it. Some people fall into depression when they retire from work, lacking a purpose or direction. Prevent this by doing a values-based project. Align your goals to your core values and you’ll enjoy the journey regardless of the end result.
6. Keep your brain engaged.
Learn something new to challenge your brain cells. Read books, take a course, learn to play an instrument, study a language, or try anything new that excites you. Stay fresh and curious about life by being a life-long learner.
7. Develop resilience.
Life will inevitably throw a few curveballs at you along the way. To soften the blow it helps to create a reserve. You need more than enough friends, a bit of money tucked away in the bank for tough times, and a Plan B. My aunt has no doubt saved my marriage by letting me know that in any long-term relationship you’ll suffer bleak years. If I had thought it would all be rosy, I don’t think I could have weathered the bleak times. The longer you live, the more loss you’ll encounter as friends and loved ones die. Don’t struggle or grieve alone. Call on friends for support, seek advice from a grief counsellor, therapist or your church to get you through a crisis. There are loads of people who have experienced the pain you feel and are happy to help.
8. Focus on the good stuff.
Our brains are naturally wired up to latch onto the bad stuff, often overlooking all the good stuff. You might get a great employee evaluation but then can’t take your mind off the one negative comment. Deliberately shift your focus to the good. If you can’t think of anything good in the moment, remember that this too shall pass. Deliberately keep your comments positive. Smile. Watch a funny movie. Talk to an upbeat positive friend to get a better perspective.
9. Strengthen your strengths.
And be gentle with yourself. We tend to be harder and more critical on ourselves than our worst enemies. Instead of trying to improve your weaknesses, focus on mastering your strengths. See if you can’t delegate your weaknesses to someone else.
10. Create your ideal life.
A final tip to find happiness in life to start living your ideal life. To do this, start with thinking of a bigger vision, meaning or mission that excites you. Focus on something that makes you realize how lucky and fortunate you are. Support a worthy cause or charity. Volunteer or work for a company or organization that you believe is doing good in the world. Once you do, you’ll feel part of a bigger, more important purpose. You don’t have to save the world to improve one small part of it. Why not start living your ideal life now?