September 24, 2019
Ever wish you were happier? Happiness is supposed to be fun and come naturally, right? Sometimes it can feel like an overwhelming project that we don’t know where to begin or a complicated puzzle that we need to solve.
So what makes people happy? Ideas like winning the lottery or an all-expense paid month-long vacation may come to mind. At times we have probably told ourselves we will have a happier life after graduating, moving to a new place, getting a new job, or losing weight. And sometimes that is true to a degree for a while. Still, we can find ourselves wondering if there is a secret recipe for happiness that someone forgot to share with us.
Interestingly, research shows that the habits of happy people aren’t a secret. They include simple ingredients we already know sprinkled in one at a time on a daily basis. Mindfulness helps us tune into what we already know.
Through a mindfulness practice, we develop our ability to be present with what is now. We hold the intention of being open to happiness in the present rather than trying to force it. It might seem a bit counter-intuitive but this slight shift in perspective allows us to experience the simple joys that build on each other throughout the course of our days.
Below, you’ll be reminded of seven ways to intentionally welcome happiness that you can begin practicing today!
1) Enjoy a Restful Night’s Sleep
Anyone feel more pleasant after restful sleep? Of course! The well-rested brain is a happier, more resilient brain.
A 2018 study in Frontiers of Psychology finds that sleep quality and life satisfaction impact each other; quality sleep may increase how satisfied we feel with our lives and can increase the quality of sleep we enjoy.
Pick a day to treat yourself to a 7-9 hour sleep.
2) Laugh Often
What makes you laugh? Is it a friend, your own quirkiness, children, late-night comedians, YouTube videos?
Seems kind of silly to ask but why is laughter so effective in increasing our happiness?
One reason is that it releases endorphins in the brain that feel good. Not only that, it’s a great way to connect with others because so often it is contagious. Ever notice how when someone else is laughing you start laughing? When you find a funny video you want to share it with others (perhaps after seeing the one I’ve shared below 🙂
Test out the impact of adding 5 funny moments at various points to your day. Here’s one to get you started.
3) Give Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)
Ever noticed how wonderful it feels when someone does something unexpected for you? Notice what happens when someone holds the door, invites you to go ahead of them in the checkout line, or helps you pick up something you’ve dropped.
In a college course I teach, we do RAK like putting change in people’s parking meters that are running low, giving away balloons and leaving signs around campus that say things like, “You are amazing!” It’s fun, raises spirits and leaves all of us realizing how many times a day we could do these little things to raise everyone’s happiness quotient.
Engage in 5 random acts of kindness (RAK) today, including one that is a secret.
4) Reconnect with Nature
In The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative, the author discusses the “nature deficit disorder”. My guess is that most of us have experienced this from time to time when we spend a great deal of time indoors or in an urban setting.
Research shows that seeing the green or blue of nature, hearing birds, feeling the sunshine and mindfully experiencing other wonders of nature result in positive emotions that promote our well-being.
Take 15 minutes today to enjoy the restorative nature of nature.
5) Exercise to Boost Energy and Mood
We’ve all heard of the runner’s high and some of us may have even experienced it. It is real! No problem if you’re not a runner. How about the feeling after a walk, a yoga class, a swim, a little basketball?
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise improves your mood, provides a boost of energy, promotes better sleep and can improve your sex life.
For 20 minutes today engage in some sort of physical activity and notice what happens.
6) Share Smiles
Notice what happens when you soften the muscles of your face into a grin. How about when you smile at someone and they smile back? Smiling and laughter can be contagious!
Purposefully smile at yourself when looking in the mirror today, why not 🙂 And smile at five other things today, whether it’s the sunshine, an adorable child or animal or maybe someone who looks like they could use a little lift.
Did you know smiling can also boost your mood and your health?
7) Note & Share Gratitude
Research shows that feeling gratitude increases happiness and that sharing the gratitude increases it even more.
Note on your phone or a piece of paper 10 things you appreciate today. It could be things like a friend, family member, pet, the sun shining, the birds chirping, a nice breeze, a bill which is lower than you expected and everything you did this week to cultivate happiness in your life.
We are developing our own happiness feedback loop as we increase our mindfulness. We are enhancing our ability to be present, open to and experience the nourishing aspects of our daily lives. This strengthening our intention to continue to develop these habits and even discover new ingredients to add along the way.
Written by eM Life teacher, Ninette Hupp.