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A Happiness Guide

A Happiness Guide: Simple Ways to Improve Your Overall Happiness

Tried and tested ways for improving your overall happiness.

We recently heard that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day [1]. Which got us thinking.

Can we make choices that can improve our happiness? Is there a guide to improve overall happiness?

The resounding answer is yes. Happiness can be a choice, and there are many things you can do that can create real and lasting happiness for yourself.

Certainly, genetics, life circumstances, and health conditions play a role. Though, there are ways you can work at happiness.

We’ve done the research for you and compiled this guide for ways to improve your overall happiness. Hopefully, you’ll find that being happier is more in reach than you think.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Practicing gratitude is all about taking the time to reflect upon things you are thankful for. Sure, we all have days when everything seems to go wrong. Though, by focusing on the positives, we will experience more positive emotions and feel happier.

Research backs up the correlation between gratitude and happiness. According to Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, “gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.” Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce toxic emotions, enhance empathy, improve self-esteem, and even help you sleep better.

As we move through the day-to-day, it can be easy to take things for granted. Though by practicing gratitude, you can re-center yourself and be reminded of the good things in your life. 

You can start practicing gratitude by simply listing a few things you are grateful for that day. It can include things big and small, from being grateful for your partner to enjoying a nice meal with your family. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal and name three to five things they feel grateful for at that moment.

The next time you are feeling down, try and think of a few things you feel thankful for. While gratitude can’t cure everything, it is a useful tool for improving your overall happiness.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

When we feel good within our bodies, our happiness levels tend to increase. Following a healthy diet and increasing your level of exercise are proven ways to raise your happiness.

There are countless benefits to exercise. Exercise has been proven to improve your mood, reduce your risk of disease, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your sleep, help control your weight, and more [https://www.homegym101.com/how-to-start-exercising/].

Diet also plays a major role in our overall health. The food we eat provides vital nutrients that our bodies need for growth and repair. Following a healthy diet reduces your cancer risk, strengthens your bones and teeth, improves your gut health, increases your energy levels, improves your mood, enhances your memory, we could go on! [3].

We know exercise and following a healthy diet are good for us, but sometimes it is difficult to find the motivation. We’ve all been there!

Here are a few simple ways to make a change:

  • Try and make exercise part of your everyday routine. You don’t need to commit to hours in the gym – there are many ways you can be active.
  • Find an activity that you like and stick to it. Whether you enjoy swimming, walking, kickboxing, or yoga, there are so many options available nowadays. Including numerous at-home exercise programs.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume gut-friendly foods to promote digestive balance.

Discover Your Purpose  

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” [4]

Perhaps the purpose of life isn’t happiness, but having a purpose does lead to greater overall happiness. Having a sense of purpose provides your life with more meaning. It is your motivating force, the fire that ignites you. When you have a sense of purpose, you feel more useful and satisfied with the “why” of what you’re doing.

Many of us find a purpose through our work. Hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones that are doing a job where you feel like you’re contributing and making a difference. If you’re not, it is never too late to make a change.

Finding your purpose can be a difficult task, though there are ways to narrow your search. Start by thinking of what energizes you. What do you love to do? What comes easy to you? Once you have that list, start thinking of what you will put effort into. It’s not enough to be passionate about a cause. You also have to put in the work! Speak to your partner or close friend to help you as you navigate your choices.

Nurture Your Relationships

Spending time with family and friends has been proven to make you happier. Being lonely has effects on both your physical and mental health, with some studies suggesting that loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking and obesity. [5]

We are social by nature. Speaking to NBC News, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center at The University of California, Berkeley, said that, “Physiologically, not having a social support system is actually a source of chronic stress on our bodies.” When we’re in a state of chronic stress, our immune system is impaired, we have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems.

Being around other people, especially close family and friends, helps us be happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer [6]. Having a network of important relationships and social support can make a big difference to our overall well-being.

Even being around people we may not like can help us grow. Having a difference of opinion or having “being driven crazy” moments can actually be opportunities for growth and transformation by expanding our capacity to feel good.

So call up a friend for a nice long conversation. Go out to dinner with your partner. Whatever it is, make time for the people in your life.

Get Outside and Soak Up Some Vitamin D

Spending time outdoors can drastically improve your health and happiness. According to a study featured in Time magazine by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, spending just 20 minutes in a park is enough to improve your well-being. Many doctors are even writing “nature prescriptions” for their patients to help improve their mental health. Outdoor therapy is proving to be a powerful tool for a range of health issues, from depression to diabetes.

It makes sense – we’re naturally wired to be outdoors. Neuroscientists are starting to research how people’s brains respond to different environments [7]. When we’re outside, alpha waves, which indicate a calm but alert state, grow stronger. The frontal lobe of our brain deactivates a little, which is the part of our brain responsible for things like communication, attention, memory, and problem-solving. Basically all of the functions we engage for our very modern lives! It is nice to shut them off for a bit.

Try and spend some time outdoors every day, whether that’s on your lunch break or on an evening walk. It will give you an instant happiness boost!

Open Your Mind to New Opportunities

Having an open mind will open you up (see what we did there?) to greater positivity and growth. By keeping an open mind you can find opportunities, have greater empathy, and better manage uncertainty.

Keeping an open mind can be difficult. Many of us have a perception bias, where we believe we are making impartial judgments when in fact are unconsciously searching for information that affirms what we already think [8]. We also tend to be more closed-minded the older we get and the more expert we become in our fields.

Since we are conditioned to be slightly more closed- than open-minded, we actively and strategically need to work on having an open mind.

To keep an open mind, you need to start paying more attention. You can begin by practicing mindfulness, which helps you be more aware and in tune with the outside world.

You’ll be surprised by the things you notice and the opportunities you find. It also helps to get out of your comfort zone and to listen to someone with a different perspective.  By opening yourself up to new opportunities, new things, and new people, you can eventually train your brain to be more open.

Bottom Line

Everyone is different, but by making choices to think positively, be healthy, build relationships and open our minds, we think there are ways to improve your overall happiness. Let us know if you tried any of the methods in our happiness guide!

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