Happiness is something we all strive for. We want the perfect relationship, the latest device, a shiny new car, the perfect job, house, holiday … and on it goes. All those things might make us happy, but life can throw us curve balls and our happiness soon disappears. The new house, car, or device will make us happy in the short-term, but we soon get used to having those things. Then we start to look for the next thing to make us happy.
Advertising tells us we are not good enough without the latest product, clothing, shoes, or other current consumer trend. If we focus on lack, we can feel as though we are not good enough. We compare ourselves to others which compounds those negative feelings. Our inner critic takes over our thoughts and reinforces the negativity. Imagine if we spoke to our friends the way we speak to ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends left.
We all have days where we feel down, life can be difficult sometimes. The Greek philosopher Epictetus is quoted as saying “It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s the way you react to it”. If something goes wrong, or somebody upsets us, we can replay the event over and over in our mind, overthinking it. Doing that can have a detrimental effect on the way we feel. If we watch our thoughts and question what we’re thinking we can improve our happiness.
Apart from controlling the way we think, there are plenty of things we can do to help ourselves feel happier. Getting enough sleep is an important one to help us manage daily stresses. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and rise the same time every morning, and get at least 7–8 hours sleep most nights.
Keep a journal. Research suggests expressing your thoughts and emotions through writing in a journal can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which are associated with a feeling of pleasure. While you have your journal in hand, make sure to write down three things every day that your grateful for. Feeling grateful improves relationships, health and happiness.
Exercise is another activity that increases dopamine levels. Try to get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. If you’re unable to do vigorous exercise, even a gentle walk is beneficial. You’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel after.
Practicing kindness is another thing that can make you feel happier. It could be as simple as allowing someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue, or even letting a car into the traffic. Simple things like can really give your happiness levels a boost. Studies have shown volunteering increases happiness, so why not get out into your community and help others.
Remember to stay mindful. Watch your thoughts and don’t let negative thinking ruin your day. The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it will become.
Have a happy day!
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