Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you: Life is tough. There will always be struggles, heartaches, and inner demons.
Amidst this messy existence, there’s something we all crave – lasting happiness.
But the thing is – and as cliché as it may sound – happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a way of doing things.
It’s not about grand moments or monumental achievements. It’s about the tiny, seemingly inconsequential habits you cultivate every day.
There’s no magic wand or secret formula that can put a permanent smile on your face.
It’s about consistency, about making these simple habits a part of your daily life.
Take note that no one else can make you happy but you.
This is an article about creating a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside.
So here’s to you and your happiness. You’ve got this.
1) Developing a Consistent Morning Routine
Your alarm blares; your hand hits the snooze button for the nth time; and before you know it, you’re sprinting around the house looking for your keys, managing to gulp down your coffee and wave a frantic goodbye to a half-started day.
And I’m sure you know this by now: Being a slave to the snooze button is not doing your mental health any favors.
Developing a consistent morning routine, however, can change that. You get a sense of control over your day before the hustle and bustle begins.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean waking up at 5 am, performing yoga at dawn, or drinking green smoothies religiously. Again, it’s about consistency, not complexity.
A consistent morning routine is simply a set of tasks that, when done regularly, contribute to your happiness.
It might involve reading, exercising, meditating, or simply enjoying your breakfast in peace.
You might even opt to wake up half an hour earlier to whip up a meal.
Mornings should no longer control you. You should be in control of them.
2) Reducing Screen Time
We live in the era of screens. They surround us – our smartphones, our laptops, our TVs. They’re the last things we see at night and the first we see in the morning.
What was once a modern convenience is now a source of eye strain, insomnia, depression, and a sense of disconnection from the real world, among others.
During quarantine, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t go five minutes without checking my phone. It was an addiction, a compulsion. Every beep and notification was a siren song I couldn’t resist.
Then, one day, I decided to turn off my notifications for a single hour each day.
And surprise, surprise – I felt freer. I was no longer burdened by the constant barrage of digital stimuli.
I’m also happy to share that that single hour has now expanded into three screen-free hours each day. I found joy in a less cluttered, less frantic world.
3) Nurturing Your Creative Side
It’s completely understandable that nurturing our creative spirit isn’t always at the top of our priority list.
With bills to pay, deadlines to meet, and chores to finish – where do we find time to paint or write or dance?
The beautiful thing about creativity is its flexibility. You don’t have to be fixated on creating your next magnum opus.
Just create anything that sparks joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.
Your creative outlet could be gardening, cooking, designing a website, playing an instrument, or even organizing your home. The options are endless.
4) Limiting News Consumption
While staying informed is crucial, incessant exposure to a 24/7 news cycle can be overwhelming, inducing anxiety, stress, and a sense of doom.
I’m not saying you should stick your head in the sand and ignore the world’s problems. Rather, I think it would be best to curate what you consume and focus on what truly matters.
Choose a reliable news outlet and dedicate a specific time slot of your day to catch up on what’s going on beyond your walls.
If you find yourself drowning again in a sea of information, you may want to take a step back or perhaps take a walk outside.
Live your life free from the relentless assault of bad news.
5) Establishing Boundaries
Learn how to establish clear boundaries.
We hear this piece of advice all the time, but it’s so hard to implement when you get swallowed by guilt and thoughts of being selfish or uncaring. It’s okay. That’s normal. It takes time and active effort to learn this skill.
For years, I was the “yes” person. I agreed to every request, every favor, regardless of the toll it took on me.
I was always available, ready to help, and in the process, I lost myself. It didn’t help that the first few times I said “no,” I was met with passive-aggressive remarks and a lot of guilt-tripping.
Know that setting boundaries is about self-respect. It’s acknowledging that you have needs and rights – and that you want to express them.
It’s realizing that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If the people around you can’t respect that, you know what to do.
6) Having Meaningful Conversations
In a world filled with small talk and social media chatter, having deep, meaningful conversations has become a lost art.
The back-and-forth of emotions, ideas, and stories gives you a profound feeling that’s almost impossible to explain.
When you’re able to open up, be vulnerable, and go beyond the surface level – the feeling is just unmatched.
Whenever you engage in these types of discussions, believe it or not, you’ll find yourself more empathetic.
There’s this shared understanding that you’re both listening intently and speaking honestly.
You both feel safe. There are no distractions, pretenses, or judgments. You might even learn more about yourself in the process.
7) Practicing Forgiveness
Holding onto grudges is like carrying a backpack with heavy rocks. It weighs you down. It drains your energy, hampers your happiness, and doesn’t allow you to feel free from the burden of bitterness and resentment.
Keep in mind that forgiveness is a decision. You need to choose peace over hostility. You need to first acknowledge that your feelings – be it sadness, hurt, or anger – then make the conscious choice to let go.
If anything, holding onto a grudge hurts you more than it hurts the other person.
Back in my early 20s, there was a period when I harbored deep resentment towards a close friend who had wronged me. I felt betrayed. I kept asking myself, “How could someone do this to me?”
Until I noticed that my grudge was eating away at my peace, my happiness. The moment I chose to let go was the moment I felt the weight lift off my shoulders.
I chose to forgive. Not for them, but for me.
8) Learning Something New
I know it’s hypocritical of me to talk about spontaneity when I first mentioned the importance of maintaining a routine; however, just like with many things in life, we need balance.
Being rigid with your schedule might mean forgetting the joy and fulfillment that comes with injecting a new activity into your daily life.
When it comes to learning something new, you don’t have to go back to school or sign up for an online course (unless you want to!).
It could be as simple as learning a new breakfast recipe, reading a book from a newfound author, or watching a YouTube video about the cosmos.
Start small. The goal is to challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone, and stimulate your mind.
Every time you learn something new, you end up feeling proud of yourself and thus create this positive feedback loop in your brain.
As you learn and improve, you feel good and want to continue learning more.
9) Mindful Eating
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, meals often become just another task on our to-do list – something we do while working, watching TV, or scrolling through our phones.
But mindful eating, the act of paying full attention to the experience, can transform this everyday activity into a source of happiness.
Savor every bite. Engage all your senses. Appreciate all the colors, textures, and flavors of your food. Don’t just “eat and run.”
When you start enjoying your meals more – with no distractions or intrusive thoughts – you’ll feel more satisfied.
You’ll even start to feel all the love the chef put into preparing the food (the chef might even be you).
10) Celebrating Small Wins
Let’s face it – this constant chase for grand achievements can be tiring. It’s like we’re never enough. I highly recommend that you start acknowledging the “small wins” you accomplish each day.
Did you finish a book? Did you get a workout in? Were you able to muster up the courage to smile at a stranger? Give yourself a pat on the back whenever you can.
I’ve always been hard on myself, always striving for more, for the next best thing.
One day, I realized this pursuit of “big wins” was leaving me exhausted and unhappy, so I decided to change my approach.
In my gratitude journal, I write down three things I’m proud of doing each day. This way, I became more appreciative of the journey, not just the destination.
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