Have you found yourself wondering how to be happy (or at least less sad?) Every living creature wants to be happy. But sometimes the pursuit of happiness feels like an impossible battle.
The good news is, increasing your happiness levels is probably much easier than you think.
You don’t have to do anything dramatic or insanely challenging to make yourself happier. In fact, there are a few simple things that can have major positive effects on your happiness levels.
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10 Ways to Become Happier Starting Today
Use these tips to enjoy greater happiness in your day-to-day life:
#1 – Practice Gratitude
You may be skeptical that practicing gratitude can make you happier, but think about this for a minute. When you focus on the challenges and negative aspects of your life, how do you feel? You start to feel negative, sad, maybe even angry.
So it stands to reason that when you change your thought patterns and start practicing gratitude, that the opposite will happen.
Gratitude puts your mind in a positive state. Rather than focusing on the things you don’t have, adopt an attitude of gratitude for the things you DO have.
Imagine the difference between feeling gratitude a few times each day versus focusing on your challenges several times each day.
#2 – Exercise
Exercise doesn’t just make your physical body healthier, it’s also scientifically proven to make you happier.
When you exercise, “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins are produced by your pituitary gland, located in your brain. In addition to inhibiting the transmission of pain signals, endorphins also produce a feeling of euphoria.
Exercising also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, both of which are known as “stress” hormones.
According to a study done by researchers at Yale and Harvard, popular team sports, cycling and aerobic and gym activities had the biggest positive effect on mental health, but all exercise types were associated with an increase in happiness.
#3 – Meditate
There are many scientifically backed benefits of meditation, including stress reduction, improved sleep, increased attention span and a mentally calmer state. In short, meditation makes you happier.
If you’ve tried to meditate before but find it a struggle to “get in the zone” then these meditation tips will help you enhance your meditation practice.
Don’t have time for a long meditation session? No problem! This 5-minute meditation can be done in stolen moments, and is also a great way to start your morning.
#4 – Live in the Present
Living in the past or stressing about the future is futile. The past is gone and the future isn’t guaranteed. Life can only happen right now.
If your mind is never in the present, then you’re not really living. Start focusing on the present moment and trust the universe has your back.
#5 – Get Up Earlier
Before you skip straight past this to #6, hear me out. I’m not suggesting that the key to happiness is jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn. Not only would that be hypocritical of me (I’m definitely not up at 4:30am everyday) but if you wake up too early, you’re going to crash too early in the day/early evening which kind of negates the benefits of an early wake up.
In addition, if your job or lifestyle requires that you stay up late, then forcing yourself to wake at 5am will cut into your sleep which is also an important factor in your health and happiness.
So what’s the solution?
Find what works for you and what makes you feel the best. If you’re a night owl who usually sleeps in until 8am, try waking up at 7:30am. If you go to bed at 9pm and sleep until 6am, try waking up at 5:30am.
Why should you wake up a bit earlier every day?
Because this gives you the time to start implementing a mindful morning routine, which can have incredible benefits to your overall health and happiness.
In addition, how often are you stressed in the morning, racing to get yourself out of the door and constantly running late?
Waking up half an hour earlier allows you more time to get ready, so you can start your day peaceful and relaxed instead of stressed and anxious.
In short – seize the day ahead! A good morning leads to a good day.
#6 – Let Go of the Things (or People) That Make You Unhappy
Being happy isn’t only about adding positive things to your life. It’s also about removing the negative.
Of course, we can’t always remove every single negative thing in our life. But we can’t almost certainly remove or at least minimize some of them.
What are the biggest hassles and annoyances in your life right now?
Have you overcommitted yourself and feel like you’re constantly running from one place to the next? Take steps to cut back on some of your committments.
Have you racked up credit card debt and feel stressed and unhappy every time you receive another bill? Sit down and create a budget that allows you to start paying down your debt.
Take the steps to minimize or eliminate them some of your biggest stressors. You’ll be surprised by how much better you feel.
#7 – Help Someone Else
As much as self-care is important, life isn’t all about you. And there’s likely a part of you that instinctively knows this.
Have you ever heard the expression, “it’s better to give than receive?” Once you start giving of yourself, your time, your money or your resources to an important cause or person you’ll start to recognize how fulfilled and happy it makes you feel.
Some ideas include:
- Volunteer with an animal welfare organization
- Become a mentor at your local “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” foundation
- Join your local volunteer fire brigade
- Add an unexpected smile to a strangers face – start painting rocks and leaving them around your neighborhood for people to find. This paint pen kit is perfect for painting rocks.
#8 – Take Action Toward a Goal
Think back to a time when you achieved a goal you’d set for yourself. How did it make you feel? I’m guessing the words “proud,” “happy,” “ecstatic,” “elated” feature strongly.
When you pursue a goal, you’re taking control of your life. You’re deciding that instead of just reacting to the curveballs that life throws at you, you’re going to start creating the future that you desire.
Set a goal and begin working toward achieving it.
#9 – Offer Forgiveness
It’s difficult to forgive someone who has hurt you. We don’t like to forgive others, especially when we feel they don’t deserve it.
Unfortunately, most of the people that have hurt or wronged you aren’t particularly bothered by your opinions of them. When you hold a grudge, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. All of the resentment and anger you’re harboring inside has a negative effect on your mental health.
It’s important to note that when you forgive someone, it does not have to mean that you’re giving the person a second chance or allowing them back into your life. Forgiveness just means you’re not going to allow those negative thoughts and feelings to take hold over your life.
#10 – Learn Something New
Every year, every month, every week and every day provides the opportunity to learn something new. Learning something new expands your mind and keeps it active. It can also help you view things from a different perspective.
Learning a new skill can allow you to meet new people, expand your social network and even provide new job opportunities, depending on the skill.
It should be unthinkable to live an entire year and not learn something useful or interesting. Each year should bring some personal growth. Get started. What do you want to learn?
We all strive to be happy. Many philosophers have argued that happiness is the only true drive we have, and that everything we do is an attempt to feel happier with ourselves or our lives.
Instead of wallowing in self pity, take charge of your happiness – it’s yours for the taking.