How to live a happy life. Now that’s a big question! For most people, living a happy life is one of their most sought-after goals, yet unfortunately, not many succeed in the endeavor. Happiness often seems to be waiting until you get that new job, a raise, you’ve paid off your mortgage, or found the perfect partner.
So what makes us happy? Well, there’s the first problem, we all have different definitions of what happiness means to us. For most, happiness is a mood, an attitude, something that goes beyond your situation or circumstances. But happiness isn’t something that just happens. We all need to make continuous life changes to set us on course to live a happy life.
Scientists have undertaken numerous studies trying to discover what makes us happy, and the answer is quite simple. The key to how to live a happy life is to develop good habits, cultivate positive thought-patterns, be optimistic, have a good social life and learn to be content with your circumstances. Easier said than done I hear you say! True, but developing a positive mindset and learning to be satisfied with what you have is certainly possible, it just takes a little effort and a little help. So, what are you waiting for? Discover how to live a happy life today! Here are 14 simple yet effective ways to make yourself happy!
How To Live A Happy Life
1/ Develop a positive, optimistic attitude
Scientific studies have shown that those who think happy will become happy. Just changing your attitude to a positive, optimistic one can actually bring more happiness into your life. Start training your mind to tame negative thought patterns and concentrate on the positive aspects of your life. When you notice rising feelings of negativity, try noticing the little things around you, like the shape of a cloud, the reflection on a puddle, the sound of the coffee machine or the smell of rain. Or remember something that makes you smile or laugh, like your loved ones or pets, a favorite party or holiday. Be strict with yourself whenever negativity invades and quickly replace it with something more uplifting and life-affirming. Positivity is an important component of living a happy life, so don’t forget to always look on the bright side.
Multiple studies have proven there is a link between happiness and living a healthy lifestyle consisting of good nutrition, adequate exercise, and restful sleep.
- Exercise is a proven strategy for reducing stress, increasing energy levels and generally feeling better. This study showed that happiness levels actually increased after physical activity. This is because exercising stimulates chemicals in the brain that have a positive effect on your mood and emotions. Start a new exercise program today that will get you into great shape, increase your self-esteem and let you reap the happy benefits of endorphins.
- Good nutrition is also vital for living a happy life. Certain foods can regulate our moods, combat depression, improve our well-being and boost our happiness levels. Make the effort to stop eating unhealthy foods and replace them with healthy alternatives.
- Getting adequate restful sleep is also important to being happy. Lack of sleep can not only have detrimental effects on our health, it can promote feelings of despair, depression and allow negativity to take over our thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness is probably one of the best habits you can develop. Mindfulness is about focusing on the ‘now’ by developing an awareness of what you are doing, where you are, and what you are feeling in the present moment. Don’t think of the things you don’t have or mistakes you might have made in the past, but appreciate your life as it is in the present moment, in a non-judgmental way.
4/ Be kind to others
Being kind and generous is a well-known way to becoming a happier person. Helping others is a great way to boost happiness and is almost guaranteed to help you live a happy life. Try doing something nice for someone each day whether it’s for a friend, relative or a stranger. You will be surprised how small acts of kindness will increase your own happiness levels.
Try small gestures such as holding a door open, letting a car go ahead of you in traffic, buying someone a cup of coffee, buying a small present or giving a donation to charity. You should expect nothing in return when offering an act of kindness. Altruism has been scientifically proven to increase feelings of well-being and happiness, it’s easy to implement and you have nothing to lose. Read more about doing good deeds and the wonderful effects it can produce in my article about paying it forward.
5/ Practice gratitude
A common trait among happy people is that they recognize that they have something to be grateful for. But gratitude is far more than just saying thank you for a gift or help from a friend. It’s a deep sense of appreciation and thankfulness for all the good things in your life and the world around you. Unfortunately, most people live their lives without recognizing their good fortune. Often, it takes a tragic event or a serious illness to make a person appreciate all the good things they’ve been taking for granted. But we all have a choice to focus our attention on the good things in our life. Choosing to focus on gratitude will make you feel less stress, less depressed and happier.
Make a commitment today to start expressing gratitude. Put aside some time every day to notice the things that enrich your life however small, and be thankful for them. Once you realize all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for, you’ll feel blessed, fortunate and begin to feel happier.
6/ Use music to lift your mood
Find songs or instrumentals that are guaranteed to make you feel good. This may take a little research but it is time well spent as you will be ready to play just the right piece of music the next time you’re feeling blue. Your tastes and mood will change over the years so be sure to re-visit your list and choose new pieces as and when necessary.
7/ Watch comedy to enjoy the medicine of laughter
Just as music can lift your mood, comedy can be used as a therapy to drive the blues away. Whether it’s something fresh and new, or vintage comedy that you remember from yesteryear, a good laugh can boost your hormones and increase your happiness ten-fold.
8/ Dive into life-affirming literature
There are so many books now available that were written especially to inspire you, empower you, and make you feel good about life. Do a few google searches, try searching for ‘how to live a happy life’, find some reviews and choose a title. Then simply read a few chapters a day for an instant happiness boost.
9/ Spoil yourself
Make it a priority each day to do something nice that’s especially for you. It could be as simple as treating yourself to a special cup of coffee, taking a walk in the park, buying some flowers or reading a favorite magazine. Take time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes, and be your own best friend by caring and nurturing yourself regularly.
10/ Smile more
Smiling has been proven to increase happiness. Did you know the movement of the muscles used when smiling tricks the brain into releasing hormones that are involved with the feel-good factor? Try smiling more and you’ll feel the positive effect it has on yourself and others around you. Smiling really can make you happier.
11/ Spend time in nature
We are not designed to spend all our lives working, watching TV or surfing the internet. We should at least be spending some of our time outdoors enjoying everything nature has to offer. Spending time amongst nature and appreciating the beauty of the natural world can be very grounding. It can elevate one’s mood, reduce depression, enhance well being and make you happier.
12/ Spend time with happy, supportive people
Probably the most important factor in how to live a happy life – relationships. People with strong, deep personal relationships are healthier, happier and live longer. Spending time with people you care about will bring much more happiness than money or personal possessions. In fact, not spending more time with friends and loved ones is one of the top regrets of dying people.
Make sure to surround yourself with happy people that are also encouraging and supportive. Studies have found that a person’s happiness depends on the happiness and support of their friends. If you surround yourself with positive, loving and happy people, you are more likely to be happy yourself.
13/ Get a pet
Having a pet can greatly increase the quality of your life. Studies have shown that pet owners are healthier and happier than non-pet owners. Just playing with your pet can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain making you feel happier. Pets can also reduce stress. Just stroking a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and make you feel calmer.
14/ Manage your stress levels
If you suffer from stress, start taking action to reduce it. You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can find ways to relieve your suffering. Start practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, tai chi and deep breathing. It’s very difficult to be happy and stressed at the same time. Read my article on how to reduce stress that details 12 natural ways to lower your stress levels.
Increasing happiness really can just involve making a few small adjustments to your attitude, habits and daily life. Make a list of these simple tips and pin it to your fridge or office wall. You’ll be happy and smiling in no time.
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