‘Happiness is not out there, it’s in you. Success in anything is through happiness’
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Are you looking to cultivate a little more joy in your life? Maybe you wake up feeling a bit sluggish and down, you’ve stopped looking forward to things you used to enjoy, or day to day activities are starting to feel like chores. Or maybe you already feel a lot of happiness in your day to day life and just want to radiate even more joy!
Many people think that happiness will come at a certain time; when they go on a holiday, get a promotion, a new car, a new partner, a new outfit, or when they eat a certain meal. This, however, is not the case.
‘Happiness is not a destination, it is a direction’
We do not need to change our life or our circumstances to be happy; we simply need to work towards sifting our actions and mind set!
This post will give you 10 simple and effective (and scientifically proven) tools to inject more happiness into your life!
- Smile more: We all know that when we are happy we smile, but did you know that just by smiling we can make ourselves feel happier? Aim to smile at more people each day, or to just smile to yourself when you otherwise might not have
- Hug it out Studies show that hugging a loved one makes us feel happier and results in lowered stress levels and other related problems
- Breathe Just as our mind influences our breath (for example, when we are stressed we tend to breathe shorter and shallower, compared to deeper and longer when we are relaxed), our breath can also influence our mind! Studies shown that just by taking long, deep breaths we can create feelings of calm and peace for ourselves. This is a priceless skill since it is difficult to change our moods through our thoughts- ‘talking yourself out of it’ can actually increase anxiety and frustration.
- Spend time in nature: Going for a walk in nature can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and enhance moods and memory. Even for those who live in a city, research shows that just walking in a park or along a tree lined street can create these same benefits
- Feed yourself happy: The food we eat plays a significant role in our happiness; the general rule of thumb is to consume a diet high in fresh, plant based wholefoods (vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds to ensure we consume all the nutrients needed to produce happy hormones and energy) and to avoid processed and inflammatory foods such as gluten, wheat, packaged foods, red meat, processed meat, fried foods, saturated fats and sugar. Specifically, foods such as tofu, pineapple, egg, salmon, nuts and seeds and turkey, have all been shown to boost levels of our happy hormone serotonin.
- Move: Regular exercise has been shown to enhance our tolerance to stress, balance cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase levels of our happy hormones serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Regular exercise can also make us happier by promoting better sleep and enhancing confidence and self-esteem.
- Be present: Studies show that a wandering mind is associated with negative moods, therefore to experience more happiness you might like to participate in some of the following mindfulness and gratitude techniques to bring you back into the present moment:
- Count each breath you take until you reach 10 then start over- research shows it increases ability to pay attention and stay in the present moment.
- If working on a mundane task that you do not enjoy, utilize the opportunity to train your attention by giving it your full attention and finding something you enjoy in each situation
- When you feel pleasure, close your eyes and be 100% present with this emotion. Research shows that basking in pleasurable experiences helps to extend the feeling
- Leave your work woes at work: Research shows those who do not detach from work while home experience more exhaustion, less joy and are less resilient to stressful conditions. To help leave your work worries at the door, studies suggest participating in activities including exercise, walks in nature, or any non-work related hobby that you can become completely absorbed in (such as crafts, cooking, art, coloring, gardening, and even stamp collecting!)
- Put away your devices: Artificial light (specifically those from our phones, TV screens, computers and laptops) has been shown to significantly reduce our levels of sleep hormones and happy hormones, making it more challenging to achieve restorative rest and to feel positive. Cut down on unnecessary screen time as much as possible, and avoid using any devices at least 1-2 hours before bed. Keeping our technology out of sight during time spent with family and friends can also make us happier by strengthening our human connections- studies show that just the presence of a phone during a conversation significantly reduces ones the sense of connection, even if the phone didn’t ring or vibrate.
- Acts of Kindness: Practice kindness: a brain imaging study showed that ‘pleasure centers’ in the brain light up when we give, while other studies haven concluded that people can enhance their feelings of happiness simply by giving to others. Try to incorporate at least 1 act of kindness into each day- this may be writing a note to a loved one, smiling at a stronger, asking someone if they are okay, going the extra mile for a friend or colleague or giving a thoughtful gift.