Happiness in life comes with a lot of benefits including increasing the chances of success in any endeavors, improving both physical and mental health, longevity, social progress, among other benefits. Behavioral scientists have done much research over the past few years on how people can improve their happiness.
One thing that stands in almost all of these studies is the fact that happiness doesn’t just happen. People need to make some changes in their behavior, their environment and in their relationships to help set the course for happier lives.
This post looks at some of the changes and things you can do to be happier than you already are. Read on for a full ten-step guide on how to be happy.
1. Be grateful; be mindful
Melodie Beatty is quoted to have once said that gratitude unlocks life’s fullness to us. It turns whatever we have into enough. Gratitude has been shown to have various benefits as regards satisfaction in life, health, and most importantly, happiness.
Often, gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand, focusing on the present and appreciating what you have at present rather than expecting more.
Research shows that gratitude and mindfulness create such positive emotions as love, joy, and contentment which can undo negative emotions such as anxiety.
One study by Dr. Robert Emmons (one of the world’s top experts on gratitude) that was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Journal shows that people that embrace gratitude are happier than those who don’t.
Besides creating positive emotions, gratitude and mindfulness also improve people’s relationships and makes them feel more in control. A 2009 study by National Institute of Health also found that gratitude boots better blood flow to the brain.
This plays an important role in reducing stress and anxiety. It also activates dopamine, which helps you achieve happiness.
Cutting back on the complaints and being grateful and mindful for even the slightest things can be a great way to boost your happiness in life.
Forgiving those who wrong you helps you get rid of toxic emotions and makes you a happier person. A recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology attests to this. Forgiveness is among those things which you must deal with for you to move on to another level of your life without problems.
When you keep holding on to a grudge, you are only hurting yourself within. You deprive yourself of happiness. In Buddha’s words again, holding on to grudge and anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone; you are the one who gets burned.
Forgiveness allows you to cut off the bonds that tie you to what caused you pain; then you become free to move on and live your life on your own terms.
It is good for your health, it makes you more likable, more focused on your life, and it improves your relationships with the people around you. All these combined lead to a happier, healthier life free of toxic emotions.
3. Help others by doing things for them
Caring for other people and helping them is very fundamental to your happiness.
In fact, research shows that there is a direct correlation between giving your time, money, or any other resource to a cause and the overall well-being of a person.
People who support others are more likely to lead healthier and happier lives.
A study published in the Social Science and Medicine journal, individuals who volunteer for a charity cause monthly is 12 percent more likely to be happy.
The satisfaction you get knowing that you have helped someone in need is so fulfilling it goes a long way making your life happier (especially if you help people often).
It is important to point out that helping others doesn’t have to involve you touching your bank account.
There are several other ways you can help people which include;
• Volunteering to do things like teaching at, say, a children’s home
• Helping your elderly neighbor to garden, prepare a meal for them, etc.
• Donate blood, hair, clothes, blankets, among other things and;
• Listen to other people and giving them advice, among other things.
4. Use positive words and think positively
Let’s put this straightforwardly; positive thinking often leads to a sense of happiness while negative thinking leads to unhappiness. Thinking positively is an excellent way to boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. You should never underestimate the power of self-thought because your thoughts have great power to shape your life and determine whether or not your life will be happy.
Buddha once said that people are what they think. When you think positively, you feel satisfied with yourself. This gives you the self-esteem and self-confidence you need to pursue your goals fearlessly.
It makes you feel equal to any task in front of you. You value yourself more, life becomes enjoyable, and you begin seeing life from a different perspective.
So avoid negative thoughts and start seeing life positively. This way, your self-esteem, and confidence builds. You become a happier, better person.
5. Do sport
Doing sport presents you two major benefits both of which contribute a lot to your happiness. Firstly, it connects you to other people. The power of social interactions cannot be underestimated.
Studies show that doing sport with social interactions offers individuals wonderful life lessons besides giving them a sense of belonging. Playing sports with friends teaches you how to interact with other people and helps you forge strong friendships.
This is the aspect of doing sports which makes it very important for your happiness.
Secondly, doing sport presents a way of exercising. As discussed earlier, physical activity has huge positive effects on your overall happiness. When playing sports, your body releases chemicals like dopamine that contribute to achieving happiness. Exercising also relieves stress, depression, and anxiety thus boosting your mood and ultimately, your happiness.
6. Examine your inner circles
You could be having a successful career, good physical health, a lot of money, but if the relationships in your inner circles are not as healthy, you are likely to be unhappy.
Relationships and connections, especially with the people in your inner circle, are vital to not only your happiness but also your success in whatever you do. This is the reason you always need to examine your inner circles to achieve long-lasting happiness.
You need to carefully choose the people you want to be in your inner circles. It is advisable to have people you trust, those that understand you and know your struggles in these circles.
These are people that you can go to for advice on almost anything. They are people who can motivate you, mentor you and boost your spirits.
As much as possible, avoid keeping negative people in your inner circle. These are individuals who don’t see the beauty of life, people that whine and complain about everything.
You should also be wary of the judgmental people, the drama king, and queens, manipulators who take advantage of you, the takers who can’t give anything back, unsupportive people, and those that do can’t forgive.
7. Find inspiration; Get out of your comfort zone
Inspiration could be the one thing you need to start being happy. The good thing about inspiration is that you can get inspired anytime and anywhere. You just only need to let yourself be inspired.
Inspiration creates a positive energy in you, so you want to do more and achieve more. It connects you to your purpose in life and gives you more reason to pursue it. It is fulfilling and authentic, staring from within you.
Even when you have competing priorities, when you seem confused and don’t know what to do, inspiration can be the one thing to get you on track and lead you to true happiness.
Inspiration wakes you up to reality and shows you life as is. When inspired, you get up from your comfort zone and push yourself. You dive into the present, you live and love every moment of your life as you experience the reality without worrying.
So, when figuring out how to be happy, be sure to get inspiration from someone or something (like nature). This way, you will learn always to push yourself and achieve more. Ultimately, you will become a happier person.
8. Find your purpose in life
It is often observed that individuals whose lives lack meaning and direction are more depressed and unhappy than those individuals who know their purpose in life.
Always remember the fact that all life’s activities have a purpose. You should, therefore, have time to reflect on your life and what you are required to be and do. Finding your purpose in life shouldn’t be difficult.
Try asking yourself, what traits and skills do I have that I can use to help others? How can I build my career or my business and the people around me?
Figuring out how you can build yourself and help others and doing just that can be a powerful and satisfying thing.
Leading a purposeful life gives meaning and direction to your life. You wake up every morning feeling enthusiastic, energized, and ready to do your tasks without dreading failure. You know who you are, and what you want in life. It is the secret to happiness.
Therefore, to be happy, find your purpose, set your goals right and work towards achieving them. Knowing your purpose will keep you focused, help you gain motivation, and give you inner peace.
9. Improve your diet.
Studies on how to be happy show that an individual’s happiness depends a lot on what they eat. Drinking and eating healthy foods is essential to a healthy body, a healthy mind and ultimately, happiness.
For instance, a recent study by the University of Illinois shows that eating regular healthy snacks and meals helps your body to keep the levels of your blood sugar steady, providing continuous source a of energy and keeping your moods stable. Boosting your mood contributes a lot to your overall happiness.
Here are some healthy mood-boosting foods that should be in your diets;
Proteins help your gastrointestinal system to absorb carbohydrates into your bloodstream and boost the production of the mood-improving hormones norepinephrine and dopamine.
Have enough protein in your diet like eggs, lean meat, poultry, milk and its products, tofu, seafood, beans, and peas.
Vitamins will improve your immune system and help you fight stress, anxiety, and depression. Plant-based diets will provide you with sufficient vitamins.
Include leafy greens like broccoli, kales, spinach, and lentils in your diets. Fruits are also very rich in vitamins.
For fiber, consume oats, beans, pears, peas, Brussels sprouts, among other foods. You also need to get enough minerals, carbohydrates, and of course, enough water.
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10. Manage your stress
Stress can drain you of happiness very easily. It may come in unnoticed, and by the time you realize how it has affected you, you are one agitated, moody, and frustrated, lonely individual.
Again, it is worth mentioning here that chronic stress presents many health problems which further contribute to your unhappiness.
These problems include decreasing your immune system, exposing you to cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks, and bringing in depression and anxiety.
Managing your stress is therefore imperative if you want to stay happy. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this which include;
– Engaging in regular physical activities. When doing exercises, your brain releases chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that help you alleviate stress and also reduce anxiety and depression.
– Eat healthy and as much as possible; avoid too much alcohol, processed foods, too much caffeine and foods with a lot of sugar.
– Relax your mind and body. You can relax your mind by meditating and doing the things you love like writing or listening to music. Relaxing your body often involves doing exercises. Consider breathing exercises such as roll breathing and other exercises like yoga.
– Connect with your friends and family and talk to them.- Have enough sleep.
While life may present many challenges in your day-to-day life, your happiness is something that you should never give up easily. Consider using the above tips always to stay happy.