Happiness is often considered one of those ever elusive emotions. We seem to search for it as if it were some tangible object. The truth is, happiness is something we feel despite what might be going on in our life – it is a state of being independent of circumstance. There is no magical switch or special pill to change our outlook, but there are habits most happy people have in common. Have you ever considered how acting happy (faking it until you make it) might actually affect your level of happiness?
Happiness is a state of being independent of our circumstance.
When we feel unhappy, changing is usually the last thing from our mind. But when it comes to our happiness isn’t a new habit worth trying on for size?
1. Practice Gratitude
This one seems obvious. Now I’m not talking about expressing gratitude, just looking for it causes our brain to change gears. It moves our focus from what might be wrong to try to find what is right. The practice of just looking for things to be grateful for have shown to improve a person’s overall sense of happiness.
2. Surround Yourself with Happy People
Have you ever noticed how happiness is contagious? Our attitudes easily rub off on those around us. So when I’m looking to be a little happier I try to spend time with happy people. It’s better than catching a bad cold or flu – but contagious just the same.
Seems obvious I know. Laughing is something happy people do. But the Mayo Clinic says laughter does a lot to improve our health. It stimulates organs increasing the endorphins that are released by our brain, relieves stress, soothes tension, improves our immune system, relieves pain, and of course improves our mood. Give it a try – next time you have a good laugh take a look at how you feel. Are you a little less tense or more relaxed? Laughter is a natural wonder when it comes to being happy.
4. Cultivate Positive Thoughts
Have you ever made the connection between happy people and positive people? They are one in the same! Happy people are some of the most positive people around. Working at having positive thoughts requires some work. Learning to focus on the good you see is a habit created by practice. When you catch yourself in mid-critical thought, try changing your focus to something good instead. Try this two-minute exercise: focus on positive thoughts for 2 minutes. Think of it as a brain workout – you have the power to physically change your brain.
5. Nurture your Important Relationships
Harvard conducted a 75-year study to determine the most important factor to happiness – their conclusion? Long lasting relationships. Love. Knowing you have someone to depend on, a person who will always be there for you is what determines our greater happiness. Consider what you are doing today to make your relationships stronger tomorrow. Your happiness might depend on it.
6. Spend Money or Time on Other People
Remember how practicing gratitude can change our focus? Well, how we decide to spend our time or money does the same thing. Think about Christmas time when you are searching for the perfect gift for someone. Or the time you spent an afternoon with someone who needed some extra help. Without fail my spirits feel lifted when I focus on someone else‘s needs rather than my own.
7. Pray or Meditate
Happy people are spiritually in tune. I think this also links back to gratitude and where we focus our thoughts. Taking the time to kneel, ponder, think, focus, and breathe while we communicate with God improves our spiritual sensors, helps to organize our thoughts and provides clarity for big decisions. Seems simple – why not give it a try?
Simplicity is key. One habit at a time. New habits don’t always feel natural at first. Similar to when you change the wrist you wear your watch – it feels weird at first. New habits typically form over time, about 15-20 days according to experts, before it starts to feel right. Positive momentum will build with each new habit, use that motivation to add another.
While there is a direct correlation between these tendencies and happiness, they are not what creates a happy person. These small changes in behavior help us to intentionally manage our happiness and can set the course for a happier life. True happiness always comes from within.