Who doesn’t want more happiness in their lives?!
Sure, certain big events play a part in shaping our happiness — like landing your dream job or meeting the partner of your dreams. But largely it’s the little unsung habits that dictate our satisfaction levels day in and day out.
In this article, we’ll look at the daily habits that genuinely happy people swear by.
We’ll come to see how incorporating these practices into our lives can lead to a far more fulfilling existence.
So let’s dive in!
1) Switch off from tech (especially before bed!)
Whenever I talk about the importance of keeping our TV and social media habits in check I always feel like a bit of a nag.
There’s no pretending that tech doesn’t play a valuable and prominent role in our lives today.
But there’s also no denying the wide body of research that highlights its many pitfalls too.
Bottom line: When we overuse it, it impacts our well-being.
Taking a break from technology allows us to disconnect from the constant demands that can stress us out.
Set aside designated times to unplug from screens and digital distractions. That will free up some time for other activities on our list that will better serve us.
It’ll also help you sleep better, improve your productivity, and allow for greater presence and connection with yourself and others.
2) Make quality time for the people you love
When push comes to shove most people would say that people matter more to them than things.
But let’s be honest, we don’t always reflect this through our actions.
We’ll ignore someone over dinner as we mindlessly scroll through our phones.
We’ll make excuses that we’re too busy to show up for someone we care about, whilst devoting all our extra hours to getting in some overtime.
Time and time again, studies show that the quality of our relationships is the biggest key to lasting health and happiness.
They don’t create themselves, they need daily maintenance.
That means surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people and fostering deep connections.
We have to make time for social activities and maintain communication with our loved ones if we want to be at our happiest.
3) Make quality time for yourself
I’m sure all the parents out there are laughing out loud right now at what sounds like a luxurious suggestion.
Yeah right, “self-care”, what a nice idea!
Similarly, if you’re working all the hours, studying hard, or have countless other commitments, this may sound like an unrealistic daily habit.
I understand that when people lead busy lives self-care falls down their priority list.
But look at it this way:
You not only deserve to have time carved out in the day that’s just for you, it also makes you more productive, less stressed, more alert, etc.
Aka, it benefits the other people and other commitments you have in the long run too.
Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, make time for activities you enjoy or that promote relaxation.
Treat yourself to those small indulgences that bring joy and rejuvenation. Take breaks when needed and set boundaries to avoid burnout.
4) Reflect on what you’re lucky to have
Being too blessed to be stressed is a state of mind.
It’s not based on what you have, it’s based on how good you are at noticing what you have.
There are plenty of people in life who seemingly have it all, yet still aren’t satisfied.
Quite frankly it’s because they suck at gratitude.
They’re like the Pac-Man — too busy mindlessly gobbling up everything in sight, that they don’t notice that their belly is already full.
Okay, terrible analogy. But the point is, that happiness is cultivated from taking time to stop and smell the roses.
- Expressing thanks for the blessings in your life (not just going through the motions, genuinely soaking up those emotions)
- Taking time to consider and appreciate the small acts of kindness you receive from others
- Perhaps keeping a gratitude journal to record and reflect upon the things you are thankful for
5) Move your body
I haven’t made time for daily exercise in the last couple of weeks, and boy am I feeling it.
Often, the focus of exercise is on the physical effects.
I confess part of my motivation for keeping fit also includes arguably shallower aspects like wanting to have a nicer figure.
But regular exercise has an all too often hidden impact on our mental health too.
It releases endorphins, which boost mood and promote happiness.
It doesn’t have to be painstaking, it’s about finding activities that you enjoy — like walking, running, or dancing — and incorporating them as much as you can into daily life.
6) Practice mindfulness
I’ve purposefully said mindfulness and not meditation.
Don’t get me wrong, mediation is an awesome tool. The countless benefits are well documented.
A daily meditation routine can make all the difference to how content and peaceful you feel.
But it’s far from the only way to bring more mindfulness into our day.
It all comes down to cultivating awareness.
As defined by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine:
“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. “
You can do that with mindful movements, like yoga or thi chi. You can do it through breathwork. You can even do it through reflection and cultivating greater self-awareness.
It’s about setting aside time each day to quiet your mind and focus on the present moment.
7) Get some fresh air
As an introverted writer who works from home, I’ve been guilty of staying cooped up in the house all day long.
And it doesn’t do you any good.
Luckily now I have a dog, and it gives me a reason to leave the house even when I’m not in the mood.
We shouldn’t underestimate the benefits to your state of mind in getting some fresh air.
One study noted how fresh air and the scents of flowers and plants, help to reduce anxiety.
That’s because it’s thought that oxygen can affect the levels of serotonin released in the body, which can make us feel happier and less wound up.
8) Have something you’re working towards
Human beings may crave safety and security, but there is another side to the coin.
We have an expansive nature, and part of that means we equally long for growth.
When we lack it, we very quickly start to feel unfulfilled.
That’s why eternal learners tend to be more satisfied in life. They are always progressing so they don’t feel the frustration that can come from being static.
Having something to work toward helps give our day-to-day life more meaning and focus.
It could be a new skill, project, interest, or ambition.
When we establish achievable goals that align with our values and aspirations, we help create a sense of accomplishment.
9) Give back to others
If Charles Dicken’s ‘A Chrismas Carol’ taught us anything, it’s this:
Assholes are never happy.
…or something along those lines anyway.
We get a buzz out of altruism.
Lending a helping hand, volunteering for a good cause, or displaying simple acts of kindness promotes a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Giving away time, money, or just our goodwill makes us feel happier, and the research proves it.
You don’t have to be the biggest philanthropist going.
Small gestures like offering a listening ear to someone in need of support, coming to someone’s assistance, or looking for ways to pay it forward all can make a significant impact.
10) Get a good night’s sleep
I know when we read articles like this, we’re often looking for the best-kept secret ingredient to happiness.
I get it, I’m always on the lookout for a sneaky hack too.
But the truth is it’s not rocket science.
As unsexy as it may be, it’s the boring basics that have the biggest impact on our mental health.
Not getting enough kip has been shown to prevent us from regulating our emotions effectively.
That means we’re more prone to stressing out, we can’t think properly, and we’re more likely to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Short-change yourself on that, and you might well be short-changing your happiness.
11) Have deep conversations
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of idle chit-chat, but it’s heartfelt discussions that give life more meaning.
One study noted that people who take part in more “substantive conversations” and less benign small talk report feeling more satisfaction in life.
It can help us foster more quality connections and make us feel better understood.
That’s something that is just as significant to us as feeling like we are loved. As author Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D. points out:
“Manal Ghosain writes about our wanting to be accepted, appreciated, approved, attended to, liked, loved, cared for — and understood. But what she doesn’t consider is that if we don’t, or can’t, experience others as understanding us — who we are and what we’re about — then all of these other wants can end up feeling relatively meaningless. Not feeling that others really know us can leave us feeling hopelessly estranged from the rest of humanity. It may well be that feeling understood is a prerequisite for our other desires to be satisfyingly fulfilled.”
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
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