Do you ever find yourself thinking
that you’ll be happier when X, Y or Z happens? Maybe it’s a promotion or finding the perfect partner. Perhaps it’s taking that holiday of a lifetime or losing those extra pounds.
In this fast-paced, social media driven world it’s easy to believe that happiness hinges on a particular event, such as a goal being achieved or getting our hands on the latest lifestyle gadget or gizmo.
However, studies have shown that whilst these major events do make us happy initially, the feeling doesn’t last. People who win large lottery prizes often have identical happiness ratings just one year later as those who didn’t, proving the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness. At least, not in the long term.
Create happiness habits
Psychologists call the notion that life events can dictate your happiness or sadness “impact bias”. A bit like a storm in a teacup, the effects of an event can feel huge at the time, but the reality is that this event-based happiness never lasts.
Instead, true happiness is something you create through habits. The happiest people have honed these habits day in, day out, to maintain their positive outlook and levels of satisfaction.
Why not give these a try yourself and see how it makes you feel?
1. Slow down
It’s so easy to get caught up in your usual routine that you fail to stop and appreciate what’s going on around you. It’s the little things that make the difference, like the taste of your food or the feeling of a warm breeze on your face. Being more mindful of the here and now will bring you one step closer to long-term happiness.
Just 10 minutes of exercise a day can release enough ‘feel good’ hormones to make your brain feel soothed and regulate your mood. Exercise is good for your mind and your body.
3. Give to others
Believe it or not, research has shown that spending your hard-earned pennies on other people will give you more satisfaction than spending it on yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to blow the budget on gifts. Little treats and thoughtful tokens can be just as powerful when it comes to boosting your happiness levels (and those of the person in receipt!).
4. Find your happy tribe
Happiness is infectious, so surround yourself with people who are positive themselves and who make you feel good about life. You will naturally absorb their happy vibes, which is great for boosting your confidence and stimulating your creativity. Those Negative Nancies who tap into your insecurities or fuel your self-pity, do you no favours at all., so spend your time wisely.
5. Stay positive
You can’t stop bad things from happening, but you can change your point of view when something does go wrong. Stop thinking about what could or should have been and focus on all the things you can be grateful for instead. Look at the facts of the situation (not your assumptions or feelings) and try to find solutions instead of dwelling on the problem.
Sleep is SO important for your health and wellbeing. It’s the time when your brain recharges and the toxic proteins that build up naturally during the day are removed. If you don’t get enough shut-eye, your levels of energy, attention and memory are all affected, leaving you feeling stressed and grumpy before the day has even begun. Make sleep a priority if you want to improve your happiness rating.
7. Have a good natter
Enjoying a meaningful conversation with someone will help you to build an emotional connection, learn new things and feel good about yourself. Idle chit chat, gossip and small talk just feeds your insecurities and can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction or guilt. Make your conversations matter. The style and substance of your conversations can make a huge difference to your levels of happiness.
8. Help others
Taking time to help other people is a win-win. Your helping hand will give their day a boost, but it will also give you a surge of the feel-good hormones, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, so you’ll feel happier too! Regularly giving support to others (without over-committing yourself) is also shown to make you more focused on what’s important in your life, as well as increasing your ability to stay happy during times of stress.
9. Make an effort
The truth about happiness is that it’s something you have to work at. No one automatically wakes up happy every day. Even the happiest people have to keep putting the effort in. Try to regularly evaluate your mood and actively try to be positive. Be aware of the parts of your routine or the bad habits that are likely to sap you of your positivity and consciously make your everyday decisions with happiness in mind.
10. Develop a growth mindset
Typically, our attitudes fall into one of two camps – a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset you believe that there’s not a lot you can do to change who you are. This can mean you’re more likely to feel hopeless or overwhelmed when things get challenging. People with a growth mindset believe they can improve with effort and are much more likely to embrace challenges as an opportunity to learn something new. Happiness is strongly linked to your ability to invest in your personal development and stay open to opportunity.
Mix it all together
There are a lot of tips here and it’s true that happiness can be hard to maintain. However, if you work on developing the right habits and nurture your happiness from within, this will make a big difference to your outlook and mood.
You do not need to pin your happiness to a certain event or possession or outcome. You’ve got all the tools you need to make it happen, whatever life throws at you.
Share your story
What makes you happy? What do you do to boost your happiness? Feel free to share your thoughts in the box below, as we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you can try some of the tips in this article for a couple of weeks and see what difference it makes. Let us know how you get on!