It’s been scientifically proven that a state of happiness produces better relationships, increases your chance for success in your career, creates a state for you to make more money and reach your goals. It just makes sense to be happy!
Happiness isn’t all about being woo woo and out there. Positive Psychology (aka happiness) is the most popular course at Harvard and is a field of science. There has been a ton of research done around Positive Psychology and how it affects us. It has been proven that happy people function better, are more productive and research also suggests that they live longer.
Happiness is a skill which is no different than learning to play the guitar or learning to knit. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. The building blocks for being happier really are quite simple.
Here are 5 simple activities you can put to practice right away to increase your happiness:
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
This may sound cliché, but it really is integral to your happiness. A thankful spirit is a healthy spirit. As life takes it twists and turns we can sometimes feel out of control. In these times our attitude is all that we have control over.
When we are thankful for what we have, we will end up with more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.
So how does it work? Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. By savouring the positive experiences in your life you are able to obtain the maximum possible enjoyment from them. Also, what you think about generally expands. So if you are thinking grateful thoughts – like how lucky you are and how grateful you feel, then those thoughts will expand. If you are constantly saying “poor me”, “why does this always happen to me”, “bad things always happen to me” – then guess what? Yep, they will make you feel bad.
One of my favourite gratitude activities is writing five things I am grateful for in my journal. I do this nightly before I go to bed. I write little things like, “I’m thankful for the butterfly I saw today”, “I’m thankful for all the freaking fabulous soul sisters in my life”, “I’m grateful for my husband doing the laundry”. Of course I also write down the bigger things like being grateful for the speaking engagement that came my way, for the new clients that came on board, for the home I get to live in.
Some other gratitude activities you can do:
Make a Giving Thanks Jar/Box: Dedicate a jar/box and have little pieces of paper ready to write on beside it. Have your family participate by adding items as they wish, each with something you are grateful for. At a specified time, sit down with the family and read the cards together.
Make a collage using pictures of things you are grateful for.
Morning Coffee/Tea Gratitude: Spend a few minutes thinking of all the things that you’re grateful for while enjoying your morning coffee or tea.
Gratitude Stroll: Go for a walk and see how many positive things you can find: the smell of freshly baked donuts coming from the bakery, flowers growing, children laughing.
Practice Acts of Kindness
I believe it is human nature to want to help others. Wayne Dyer wrote something that really resonated with me. He said “The fact that we do not take anything with us when we leave this earth is a strong clue that we are here to give – not to take.” I thought about that for a long time.
I grew up being told to live the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have done unto you”. What this is actually saying is, treat others the way you want to be treated. Sometimes in my life when I was experiencing tough times I would find myself thinking “I don’t have much to give.” But it doesn’t matter how much you give, it’s just about the act of giving.
So how does giving, or doing little acts of kindness help you be happy? Well first off, I’m sure you’ve experienced this … you’ve done something selfless for another and you felt GOOD. Right? There has been much research done on this topic and it has shown that being kind and generous leads you to look at others more positively, nurtures an increased sense of cooperation in your social community, you see yourself in a more compassionate light, and most importantly, kindness can start a positive flow of social consequences – it leads people to like you and to appreciate you.
There are all kinds of things you can do to practice acts of kindness:
Say Hello: Smiling at someone you don’t know and just saying this one word can make their day.
Do Good Things: Pay for the lunch of the person behind you, buy someone a coffee, take a minute to give directions to someone who is lost – even though you are in a hurry, visit a shut in, put a coin in an expired meter, volunteer at a rescue organization. I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got lots of ideas of our own.
Just Listen: Be that friend or neighbour who will take the time to listen. Sometimes people just need to get things off their chest.
There are lots of simple things you can do. If you do one little thing each day, you are going to grow your own happiness greatly.
Learn To Forgive
If you let your past define your present, you really never get to live the life you were meant to live – because you are always holding on to what was. Forgiveness is letting go of the past – letting go of your perception that we need to hold on to grievances for the rest of our lives. If we hold on to those grievances, we will never really be happy.
Here’s what I’ve learned about forgiveness. It’s not about letting the other person off the hook. It is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. Many people think that forgiveness is accepting what has happened to you … but forgiveness is accepting that it has happened to you – not accepting that it was ok for it to happen.
Forgiving is putting down all of your baggage and leaving it behind. You travel lightly. It has nothing to do with worthiness—yours or others’. You and they are both worthy. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you wish to continue to carry your baggage. Forgiveness does not change the past, it changes the future.
You forgive for yourself – not for the other person.
Take Time To Enjoy Simple Pleasures
In the race to be better, we sometimes lose sight of just being. Just soaking in this moment. I’ve heard the saying “We don’t remember days; we remember moments.” Take the time to savour those moments, whether it be a nice warm cup of tea, a spectacular sunset, a good book, a walk in the woods, a nice hot bath, the smile on your child’s face. These moments, if we stop long enough to enjoy them, are the essence of a happy and fulfilled life.
What are some simple pleasures you enjoy? Do them more often, and soak in them.
Some activities you can do are:
Relish Ordinary Moments: Starting tomorrow take a look at your daily routine and activities. At least once a day, stop and really take pleasure in and linger in what you are doing.
Take Time To Reminisce With Family And Friends: Remember the fun times you’ve had together. The times that brought meaning and joy to your lives. Look at your old photo albums or watch videos of past events. Research has shown that savouring and reminiscing with others is accompanied by numerous positive emotions, such as joy, accomplishment, contentment and pride.
Be Mindful: To understand mindfulness, imagine yourself doing something very simple, something quite ordinary–like, say, eating an apple. You probably eat your apple not paying attention to how it smells, how it tastes, or how it feels in your hand. Because of the ways we’re conditioned, we don’t usually notice the quality of our attention. If we’re not paying attention, then generally eating the apple is not a fulfilling experience. But when we pay attention, it makes the moment better.
Mindfulness has a way of sounding complicated. It’s anything but. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.
When you take time to live in the moment, to enjoy the little things you’ll not only appreciate these times, but you will also find more joy in your life.
Affirmations are positive statements, usually written or spoken, that affirm what you want. Throughout my years of self-discovery I had always heard about affirmations, but really didn’t understand the psychology behind them. They actually condition the subconscious mind to help you develop a more positive perception of yourself. You see, your mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is fantasy. It’s only truth is the thoughts you are telling it to think.
Affirmations can help you to change harmful behaviours or accomplish goals, and they can also help undo the damage caused by negative scripts, those things which we repeatedly tell ourselves (or which others repeatedly tell us) that contribute to a negative self-perception.
To help program your mind to be happier you can do the following:
Create Positive Affirmations: Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs. Create affirmations out of those beliefs. Use words like “I am beautiful”, “I am smart”. Say these affirmations out loud. Write the words and put them where you will see them. Watch the “magic” gradually unfold.
Create A Vision Board or Art Journal: Using a vision board or art journaling will keep your intentions visually in front of you. They are great tools to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific affirmations. We are visual beings and looking at the board or journal strengthens our affirmations. You can create a vision board by cutting out pictures and words or there are even online apps that you can use.
I’ve always been a fairly optimistic person, (good happiness genes) but there have been times in my life that have been very difficult. The activities I’ve shared with you have helped me tremendously get through those tough times. My hope is that they help you too.
What are three activities you do that help you get happier? We’d love to hear them, so please leave a note below.
And please … be happy!