It seems like people are always chasing happiness, we want it but it always seems to be just out of reach. This may be because we put a lot of stock into external things and associate material objects with being happy. Buying a new car will only make you happy for a short time and then you have to worry about gas and car payments and making sure that you’re up to date on your insurance. What we need are things that we can do, for ourselves, that give us lasting happiness effects. Changing things up a bit and adding an extra step to our daily routine can give us the lasting happiness we crave. We at Psych2Go share with you 12 tips to help achieve happiness immediately as well as as long term.
You can either take a walk or exercise intensely to get these benefits, just know that walking won’t give you as much as a hard workout session will. Exercise releases endorphins within your brain that effect the mood for a short period of time and give you the feeling of happiness. Many work places, think Google headquarters and other office jobs, have work out rooms because they recognize the scientific benefits of exercise. Endorphins are also a natural stress reducer so they won’t only make you happy but they will reduce stressors as well.
2. Take a deep breath
Taking a deep breath, or a few, will help reduce stress and slow down your fight-or-flight reflex. When in a stressful situation your body will release adrenaline to prepare you in case you have to fight or flee, but we often don’t need to do either of those things as we are not in danger. Our brains don’t always know this so a deep breath or two can essentially reset that reflex and let us look at things calmly.
3. Remove a stressor
Is there something that you are stressing over but it isn’t necessary? Is there any way that you could look at a situation differently that would reduce stress? Having less stress will automatically make us happier in the fact that stress keeps us on our toes and agitated. Prolonged periods of stress can have a pretty hefty impact on your health and even your life expectancy so reducing it where you can be very important. Take a step back from the project that might be getting to you, take that deep breath we talked about, and look at it from another angle.
4. Learn something new
Learning can be extremely rewarding and fun, especially when it’s something that you have been interested in for some time. Not only will taking the first step to learning something new give you a sense of excitement, fulfilling that specific learning process can give you a sense of accomplishment. Have you been wanting to learn how to play the guitar or cook a complicated recipe? Take a few minutes to research your goal, perhaps even head to the library to grab a cookbook or a chord manual. Pick something you want to learn about and just dive in, you might be surprised at how great you feel afterwards.
Scientists have found that smiling makes your feel better than eating chocolate and an added benefit is that you don’t have to go to the store to achieve this result. Think of something you like or look up cute pictures of kittens if that’s what makes you happy, just picks something nice that you know has a positive effect on you. Added bonus, smiling can lift other people’s moods as well so take a few moments and spread the happiness around.
Long Term Happiness:
6. Take a moment each day
Appreciating daily things can help you find the good around you. Do you have coffee every morning? Take the time to inhale the warmth from your cup. Do you drive home from work when the sun is setting? Take note of the beauty of the sky changing colors. Is there a longer, more scenic route for a drive you have to take? This is a literal stop and smell the roses situations so just take the time and notice the world around you, even if it’s only for five minutes.
7. Spend time with those you love
A study in The Journal of Socio-Economics found that we value our relationships more than we do $100,000. This means that it would take roughly $100,000 to give you the same effects as spending time with the people that you love. Think of how much overtime at work you would have to complete to make that much money. Now think of all the stress that would come about from working that much. Being around people you love isn’t only free but it’s also another way to make not only yourself happier but other’s as well.
8. Don’t compare yourself to others
Not only do we not know what another person is going through behind closed doors, we also don’t know what good things could be coming our way. By comparing yourself to others you are cutting yourself down and minimizing the things that you already have. By not comparing yourself to others you are taking a moment to appreciate the smaller things in life as well as the things you already have. It’s a two for one deal!
9. Stop procrastinating
Nearly all of us have had something that we’ve put off until the last minute because we either didn’t want to deal with it at the moment or there was something more entertaining going on. Do you remember how stressed you felt once you started whatever it was you were putting off? Keeping yourself from doing something can stress you out but it can also cause depressive episodes. Not putting things off can also make you more productive and allow you to take the time you need to perfect it before the deadline looms over you.
10. Don’t buy into negativity
Cutting down on negativity will not only make you automatically happier but it will also help you cut down on your stress load. There are things that can’t be avoided but negativity isn’t one of them. By changing the outlook, you have about a situation you can essentially rewire the way you see the world. Instead of thinking “well with this new piece I’ll never get the project done” you should think “imagine how good I’ll feel once I get all of this work accomplished!” By changing how you look at the situation you can trick yourself into looking forward to the project or situation.
This doesn’t just mean sunlight, though it is very effective in boosting your mood. Light, especially blue light, can help with moods as well as anxiety and depression. Getting a light box, especially if you live in a state that high as high occurrence of seasonal effective disorder, and using it for a few minutes a day. The brain responds well to the correct light signals and can give you a real sense of calm and happiness.
Meditation can help you focus and stay calm, to components needed to distress and increase happiness from within. The brain can actually change with meditation, as witnessed by a study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital. The researchers took images of meditation participants brains and found that the areas associated with compassion and self awareness grew and that the areas associated with stress shrank. Meditation teaches you mindfulness which helps you be present in the moment rather than worrying about what might happen or something that you need to do at work the next day. Being in the moment allows you to truly experience the world around you.
A note from Psych2Go: You can also practice gratitude. We made a video on how gratitude can greatly make us happier.