There’s a common misconception about happiness, one that leads us to believe it’s a mystical state only achieved by a few.
The truth is, happiness is not elusive or complicated. It’s simple, practical, and within everyone’s reach. We can learn to make happiness a habit. But how? Let’s dive in.
Happiness isn’t about constant joy and elation, nor is it the absence of pain and hardship. Instead, happiness is about acknowledging and accepting all emotions, choosing to focus on the positives and understanding that hardships are temporary.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, a comprehensive 80-year-long study, has shown that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. And let’s not forget that happiness also comes from within. Our attitude and perspective greatly influence our state of mind.
Choosing Happiness Daily
Just as we consciously select the clothes we wear each day or the food we’re going to eat, choosing happiness is a decision we make moment by moment. It’s a commitment to focus on the positive, to appreciate the present, and to cultivate a mindset that seeks joy, regardless of the external circumstances.
The idea is to shift our daily routines to include habits that inherently make us happier. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is the foundation of happiness. By appreciating the small things in life, we cultivate a positive mindset. A simple habit like maintaining a gratitude journal, where you note down three things you’re grateful for every day, can make a world of difference.
2. Surround Yourself with Positivity
The people we spend time with significantly influence our happiness. Surround yourself with people who uplift you. Cultivate relationships that provide emotional support and leave you feeling energized.
3. Engage in Activities You Love
Spend time doing things that bring you joy, whether that’s painting, hiking, reading, or dancing. Make it a regular part of your routine, something you can look forward to.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Be present in the moment. Often, we get so caught up in the hustle that we forget to pause and appreciate the moment we’re in. Mindfulness allows us to engage fully with the world around us, leading to a more profound sense of happiness.
5. Stay Active
Physical activity releases endorphins, also known as the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Incorporate some form of exercise into your routine. It could be as simple as a 15-minute walk or a full-blown workout session.
6. Give Back
Helping others triggers the release of oxytocin, the happiness hormone. Find ways to give back to your community, whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, helping a neighbor, or donating to a cause you believe in.
7. Learn Something New
Learning stimulates our brain and makes us happy. It could be a new skill, a new language, or even a new recipe.
8. Practice Self-Love
Embrace your flaws and celebrate your achievements. Stop comparing yourself to others. Each one of us is unique and brings something different to the table. Be kind to yourself.
9. Laugh More
They say laughter is the best medicine, and they’re not wrong. Not only does laughter release endorphins, but it also helps keep things in perspective. Watch a funny movie, share a joke, do whatever it takes to laugh more.
10. Limit Social Media Use
Excessive use of social media can lead to comparisons and decreased self-esteem. Limit your social media usage. Dedicate that time to something more constructive instead.
Practical Application Steps
Let’s make happiness a habit.
- Choose one habit from the list above and integrate it into your routine for a week.
- At the end of the week, reflect on how that habit made you feel. If it made you happier, keep it. If not, choose another one.
- Repeat this process until you’ve tried all ten habits. Keep the ones that work best for you.
- Remember, the aim is not to do all ten simultaneously. Choose 2-3 that you can consistently practice.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination. By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you’ll find that happiness becomes a natural part of your life. And always remember, you have the power to create your happiness.