Do you find yourself on auto-pilot, stuck in the same unsatisfying loop from day to day? Or maybe you are in a stressful season of life, whether it’s starting a new job, having a baby, moving, or balancing school and work and a social life. No matter where you’re at – be it waiting for the next big adventure in life, or riding out the wave – one thing is certain: we could all use a little more happiness throughout our day. Here are a few simple ways to squeeze the most happiness out of every moment!
11. Wake Up With Intentional Gratitude
Mornings are hard, believe me, I know. So before your feet even touch the floor, before reality kicks in and the stress of the day starts chipping away at you, take a few minutes to be thankful. A recent study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that those who consciously focus on blessings receive multiple emotional and interpersonal benefits. But don’t let science dictate your decision – try it out for yourself! Start small, with three simple things you are grateful for. Maybe all you can muster when the alarm goes off is, “coffee, mug, creamer,” but I bet that will be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had!
10. Pick Out Your Best Quality – And Flaunt It!
Now that you have a brand new attitude of gratitude about the world around you, it’s time to take a good long look at yourself. No seriously, go look at yourself in a mirror. What do you see? Vibrant eyes, a stunning smile, toned arms, legs for days? Maybe you have the kind of hair that is just beautiful no matter what you do with it. Are your eyelashes long and beautiful even without mascara? If so, I’m jealous. Everyone has at least one thing about themselves they know is pretty awesome. So, flaunt it! (with reasonable modesty, of course.) When you feel confident about yourself, the day seems much less intimidating. Still don’t know what your best quality is? Ask a friend!
9. Dream Big; Start Small
Everyone knows that the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step, (thanks to Lau-Tzu), but… what does that look like for you and me? This is a two parter, so bare with me. First of all, we need to have goals. Big goals. Big, scary, “feel like it’s never gonna happen” kind of goals. That’s your thousand mile journey. But don’t stop there! It’s not enough just to know what you want. Don’t let your dreams collect dust and turn into what could have been. Plan out what you can be doing right now to achieve those goals. Is it skipping the morning latte and putting that money in a savings account for a plane ticket to Italy? Maybe you need to do some research on trails and hiking gear for that mountain you’ve always wanted to climb, or develop a character for the novel you’ve always meant to finish. Whatever it is, you can make it happen, one day, one dollar, one draft at a time.
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8. Do Something Good For Someone Else
There is no better way to get over a bad mood than to do something good for someone else. Just a simple act of kindness once a day will bring so much light and life into your world, and will open doors you never thought existed! This can be anywhere from taking a friend out to lunch, to writing a personal note to a co-worker going through a rough time, or leaving a random encouraging note on a stranger’s car or on the seat of the bus. Even just giving out compliments can be so life-giving in a world that is all too ready to tell us how we’re not measuring up to it’s standards.
7. Create Space
Often times, less is more. Maybe the most important thing you could add to your day is more space. Let me be clear here, “space” does not refer to sitting in front of the tv watching Netflix, or catching up on the latest news. Although all of these things have their benefits (some more obvious than others), the purpose of space is to carve out some purposeful, relaxing, solitude, to quiet the voices and influences of the world, and spend time with yourself and your thoughts. This could look like journaling for a few minutes each evening with a cup of tea, or taking part of your lunch break to find a quiet spot in the park and just listen to the birds in the trees. This probably means taking a few things off your plate, but between you and me, it’s totally worth it.
6. Take The Stairs
This is all about finding little ways to get the blood pumping and integrating more physical activity into your life. If you’re anything like me, that last sentence probably flew right over your head, and you’re already moving on to #5. BUT WAIT! This is important. I’m not saying you have to go to the gym for 30 minutes a day, or run three miles every morning (I’m a blogger, not a doctor after all). I’m just saying that science has proven time and time again how physical activity positively influences our attitude and outlook on life. If you don’t believe me, here is one of many studies. So take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get off one bus stop before yours and walk a few extra blocks. Purposefully park in the furthest away spot in the parking lot and burn off a few calories. It’s the little things. Which brings us to our next point…
5. Celebrate The Small Things
This one is pretty simple – take time to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, both big and small. Are you rocking that new outfit you bought at GoodWill over the weekend? Snap a shameless selfie. Get all your work done ahead of schedule? High five a co-worker. Went a whole week without facebook stalking your ex? That deserves a bubble bath. It’s all about finding joy in the spaces in between your huge accomplishments.
4. Get More Sleep
We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so clearly it’s pretty important. Chances are, you’re not getting nearly enough of it. In this interesting study, research found that people who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative feelings, and more receptive to positive feelings. That’s a win-win right there.
3. Go Outside
Remember when you were little and you would tell your parents you were bored and begged them to entertain you and they half heartedly pleaded with you to go play outside? Maybe that was just me. Either way, they were on to something. Studies show that as little as 20 minutes outside can drastically improve your mood and strengthen memory. You can combine your adult recess with your goal to create more space by taking your lunch break in a park, or get your outdoor time while exercising.
2. Be More Social
Ironically, in the age of Facebook, Twitter, texting, SnapChat, and other forms of social media, making a personal connection has never been more elusive. While these platforms have brought us many wonderful things, actual relationships seem to be left on the back burner. So, reach outside of your comfort zone and have a face to face conversation with a co-worker, or the guy sitting next to you on the bus. Call your mom and tell her something you’ve never told anyone before. Visit your brother and remind him of that one summer the air conditioner broke and you both snuck downstairs and made a fort and grabbed all the frozen veggies from the freezer and piled them on your head. (Just me again? huh.) The point is to make a real connection, or to keep investing in those relationships close to you.
You knew it was coming. Happy people have a habit of showing it – so fake it till you make it!