5 Things You Can Do Every Day To Increase Your Happiness
Happiness. As human beings, we are infatuated with the idea of happiness. It’s the exhilarating, content, carefree, laughing emotion that tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face. We want happiness to be the constant emotion, the one that dominates all the others. We want to honestly be able to say we are leading happy, fulfilling, and successful lives. And mean it!
The thing is, as much as we love to be happy, it has to battle with all of our other emotions. And on some days, it loses.
Or maybe not. Maybe one of you has found the secret elixir that allows you to be happy 24/7. But judging by all the happiness posts on blogs, the self-help books, and the mental health websites, I don’t seem to be alone in wanting to work on my happiness.
When I was younger, my mother always told me that happiness comes from within. I used to get annoyed by that statement. How could it come from within? Where and when does it appear? And if it comes from within, why wasn’t I happy every single day? It was also a hard concept to understand as a kid. This ice cream cone was making me happy; it wasn’t coming from within!
As I grew older, I learned what my mother said to be true. I have to create my own happiness. And the laughing, exciting part of happiness is not the only definition of happiness. I learned that inner peace and self-love was an important definition of happiness.
Realizing that you have to create your own happiness puts the control back in your hands. But that still doesn’t make it easier.
Don’t get frustrated. That bright idea of happiness, or the inner peace we seek and project into the future is ours. It’s just going to take work, and patience. You will work at it every day. And it’s completely worth it. If you’re not working on your own happiness, who will?
Here are 5 things you can do every day to increase your happiness:
This is the first, small step I take every day. It was actually suggested to me by one of my best friends. I told her I was having a hard time kicking a mood that had stuck around for a few days, and she suggested that I do morning affirmations to really ground myself in my blessings. The idea is to freshen yourself at the start of the day with an awareness of the beauty and good that is already in your life. I am grateful for my health. I’m grateful for the roof over my head, and my job. Morning affirmations remind you what is really important, and helps alleviate stress throughout the day. It will be harder for little things to bother you after you get in the swing of recognizing your blessings every morning. You could say them out loud, write them in your journal, pray, or meditate—whatever suits you best.
Even the days I groan about going to the gym, I try my best to push myself and go. My dad always told me that on the days I really don’t want to go are the exact days I need to make sure I go. I’m grateful he gave me this bit of advice, because it’s contributed to my overall happiness. So why is this? First, exercise releases endorphins in the brain, so it physically and literally is making you happier. Second, I began to value exercise as “me” time throughout the day. It’s a great opportunity to sweat, turn off the noise of society, and ground yourself. Third, those days you don’t want to go and end up busting your butt lifting weights will make you pretty damn proud of yourself.
Helping others is a great way to increase your happiness each day. This could be something grand: volunteering, raising money, taking care of someone—or, you could make sure you perform at least one small act of goodness to another person before the day is over. On those hot, blistering days in New York City, while you’re walking to work, stop and buy the homeless man on the street a water bottle. Donate in one of those little charity jars in corner stores. Do a favor with absolutely no expectations of anything in return. You’ll notice that your mood will lift. Sharing, or attempting to make others happy, makes us happy as well.
Creativity is proven to increase our happiness. Everybody has various types of talent, and whatever yours is—tap into it. On a daily basis, put time aside to be creative. Write a poem. Doodle. Experiment with a new recipe. Write out everything that’s racing around your mind. Create something and be proud of it. Creativity helps us zone out and bring about an inner peace. Why shouldn’t we want that in every day possible?
Simple, right? This too has been proven by science to make you happier. Yes, you heard me. Even forced smiles decrease stress and make you happier. I’ll admit, some days are so busy that I don’t remember I haven’t smiled in awhile until I actually do. I try to smile more often now. I smile at strangers as they walk by. I smile with anyone helping me in a store or restaurant, or with my co-workers. The trick is to remember on those busy days to take a breath and smile. Heck, smile at yourself in the mirror. You deserve it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN
As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin.