Happiness matters because feeling happy is linked to a greater sense of wellbeing, achievement and fulfillment.
But if you’ve been chasing happiness, you can stop wasting your time, because all the happiness you will ever need is available to you right now. You just have to create it.
Better still, the ways to create more happiness in your life are simple and easy to implement. Here are seven to get you started.
1. Know and accept who you are.
When someone asks, “who are you?” can you answer that question quickly, and honestly? Being comfortable in your own skin and accepting all your jiggly bits is the first step towards greater self-acceptance and self-awareness. Seeking perfection or trying to live up to the expectations of others is a tough road that leads nowhere. As a member of the human race, you are imperfect, fallible, and sometimes wrong and that’s OK.
You are you and that IS enough.
2. Take a walk outside.
The quickest and most effective way to top up your happiness is with exercise. Studies have shown that physical activity stimulates the releases of our feel-good hormones, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins along with more BDNF the brain’s growth factor that keeps your neurons in top working order and acts to reset memory and stress.
The good news is exercising regularly has a flow on effect so that you’re in a better mood even on those days you don’t get to the gym.
And the best place to work out for greater mental wellbeing and happiness is outside. Spending 120 minutes a week in nature is all it takes, so look for the opportunity to get out and about for a walk, jog or cycle ride.
3. Get enough shuteye.
While there are lots of great reasons to get enough sleep, boosting your happiness is one of them.
Getting enough quality, uninterrupted sleep is essential to how well you can regulate your emotions. The results of the Living Well Index conducted by Sainsbury’s and Oxford Economics found that sleep quality came out top of 8 factors in determining how we feel on a day-to-day basis. A finding also mirrored in a US survey of 7000 adults by Gallup and Healthways
How much sleep is enough? Only you know the answer to that question but getting a regular 7 hours puts you in the higher mental-wellbeing and happiness bracket.
When the question comes down to should you get to the gym or catch up on sleep, the answer is always to put sleep first.
4. Be grateful for what you have.
Envy and comparison can lead to despair and unhappiness. Choosing to focus on what you have shifts you to a more positive space that cultivates a mindset that is more accepting, more open, more willing to learn.
The ROI of gratitude is that undertaking the simple act of journaling 3-5 things you are grateful for each day for 21 days will significantly raise your level of optimism for the next 6 months. Shawn Achor author of The Happiness Advantage explains how boosting your level of positivity using gratitude provides you a competitive advantage because it can boost productivity by 31%.
In a study group of people with anxiety and depression, writing a thank you note was shown to have a profound positive effect on brain activity as measured on fMRI scans that persisted three months later.
The more you practise gratitude by counting your blessings, the more attuned you become to seeing the good around you and this will make you happy.
5. Build your support network.
It will come as no surprise to understand that others contribute enormously to your overall happiness. As human beings we are hard wired to connect.
Enjoying strong social connections elevates our happiness and self-worth because it provides us a sense of belonging, you know you’re in the right place, and that you are safe.
Not only that, research has shown the correlation between social support and happiness to be even stronger than that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
6. Do something for someone else.
Kindness. It’s hugely underrated as a happiness booster. Showing kindness acts as a turbocharger to happiness because it completes the trifecta of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Oxytocin being the hormone produced when you’re in the company of someone you like (or love). It’s the glue for social cohesion. Doing something nice like taking a work colleague out to lunch makes you feel happier and creates a positive feedback loop meaning you’re more likely to seek out how to deliver another act of kindness soon.
Gifting your time or money makes you happier than spending it on yourself.
Smiling lowers your stress through increased release of dopamine and serotonin and makes you feel happy. Not only that a smile boosts your immune system. Being a grump isn’t good for us at all!
Choosing to smile is a super easy, quick and effective way to boost your mood and of course it’s contagious. So, choose to smile more and spread that positive contagion of shared happiness.
Happiness matters, for your health, your wellbeing and success in life.
The more happiness you create, the greater the rewards, so let’s get started and get happy!