If you were told that you could be happy, right now, no matter what is going on around you, would you believe it?
It might be a leap of faith but if you just agree to the possibility and open yourself up wholeheartedly to the following happiness practices, you will increase your baseline happiness significantly.
No, you won’t be happy every second of your life. You shouldn’t be, actually, because in order for the happy moments to mean anything, they need to be balanced with unhappy moments. But – you can bounce back quicker, and be happier in general – no matter what.
- Decide to be happier. Yes. Just set that intention. The trouble with persistent sadness and anxiety is that they rewire your brain, and change your brain chemistry, making them literally addictive emotions. But you can also rewire your brain to be happier and make happiness addictive.
- Start telling a new story. You’re going to want to spend some time in introspection. I’m not talking about the whole day, but just become aware of your feelings and the thoughts that generated them. Is there persistent sadness? Anxiety? Worry? Anger? Resentment? Jealousy? Criticism? Blame? All of these emotions come from thoughts you’re having, so use them as guideposts to clue you in to your automatic thought habits. And then change it. Instead of blaming (the weather, government, your boss, your spouse, your genes…) take ownership.
Instead of the hugely dis-empowering “I can’t lose these last 10 pounds. Being overweight runs in the family” say, “I am in control of how much I eat and how often I exercise. Today I’m making the best choices for me!”
- Choose happiness now. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions to be happy – when you lose the weight, when you land the perfect job, when you get a new car… be happy NOW. Make a conscious choice to see happiness around you. Focus in on people smiling: even if you feel you have nothing to smile about, you are “hard wired” to feel good when you see others smiling so seek them out. Even a stranger’s smile at another stranger will help! Think of times when you were happy and how you can recreate that happiness right now.
- Help someone. It feels good to give, so give. Ask yourself, “How can I help others today?” Sure, you can volunteer, donate, organize and physically help, but don’t forget the help that comes in little intangible packages: compliments, appreciation, thanks… even a small thing like a compliment, can make the difference in someone’s day and it significantly increases your own happiness. Plus, it takes the focus off your problems for a while.
- Be grateful. Savor what makes you happy. Look at the little things, the ordinary things, that make your life easier. Be grateful for the things you take for granted. For an even more powerful dose of gratitude, find the blessings and benefits in adversity and the everyday challenges you’re faced with. They DO benefit you… if you train yourself to see the benefits.
Make your space happy. Simplify it. Clean it, declutter it, organize it. Fill your space with things that bring you JOY. If something isn’t useful and/or brings you joy, why do you have it? WHY do you have broken things or unused things that take up space and your energy (you are STILL paying for these things, because you are still working in order to give unwanted stuff a place to live!).
- Exercise every day. Don’t give in to the “I don’t have time” excuse. Yes, you do. You just have to choose to make the time. You’re doing it for YOU, right? Need some help getting started? Park further away from work and walk briskly. Park further away from the store and walk briskly. Take the stairs. Commit to just 15 minutes of exercise a day until it’s a habit and then add to it.
- Visualize what you want. It helps to have a vision board of the things and experiences you really want in life, but you can do this in your head too using the Silva Mental Screen exercise.
- Eat right. Did you know that certain foods actually mess with your happiness? Yes! Sugar is one: it makes you “happy” and energetic for a little while, but it is followed inevitably by the sugar crash that leaves you grumpy, lethargic and mentally foggy. Choose complex carbs instead, that provide you with sustained energy so you have the “oomph” to enjoy life.
- Smile more. Even if you don’t feel like it, smile. It’s a physiological signal to the brain that “all is well.” Yes – you can fool your brain into happiness, so do it! Aim for at least 20 1-minute smiles every day, throughout the day. You’ll notice a dramatic difference!
Better and Better,Laura Silva Quesadaand the Team