“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life.”
If you were granted one wish, it would be for whatever you thought would make you the happiest, right? Most people think success makes you happy, but according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, happiness creates success.
Happy people are confident, optimistic, energetic, and sociable. “They are more likely to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.
It is one of the most salient and significant dimensions of the human experience." Try focusing your attention on the following principles:
1. Purpose Once there was a prisoner who was given the task of turning a faucet every day, and was told it watered the plants in the garden outside. Every day he turned the handle. After many years, he was released and wanted to see the plants he had been watering. When he asked to see the garden, he was told there never was a garden. Upon hearing that, he collapsed and died.
2. Community Belonging to a community helps us understand who we are and gives us a sense of something larger than ourselves. Researchers have found that people with strong social connections have fewer stress related health problems, lower incidence of mental disorders, and faster recovery from trauma and illness.
3. Exercise/healthy eating We have all seen how much better we feel both mentally and physically when we eat right and exercise, but after a busy work day, we often feel like we don't have time to do either. Make it a priority to take time every few days to plan healthy snacks and meals.
Make easy-to-grab containers with cut veggies and keep them handy in the fridge; Cook a big pot of healthy soup and then freeze dinner-sized portions to heat up on those days you don't feel like cooking; Get up 15 minutes earlier and run around the block a few times. A little planning can make a big difference in this particular area.
4. Relationships Relationships allow us to explore and learn. When we feel supported, we are able to build resources for times of stress and adversity. Take the time to nurture those relationships that are most important to you.
It only takes a few seconds to send your partner a text saying, "I can't wait to be in your arms tonight", or "I'm thinking of kissing you right now". Those few seconds can help you both feel more connected.
Organize a lunch with your three closest friends. Having things like that to look forward to is also important.
5. Service Notice the feeling you get when you see a random act of kindness, or see someone's face lights up when you give them a present - and it makes yours light up as well. Doing something nice for someone else is a sure-fire way to make yourself happier as well.
6. Sunshine With people working more, and spending less time outside, our Vitamin D levels have dropped, which can negatively affect mood. According to a study by Dr. Fatme Al Anouti, a professor in Zayed University's college of sustainability sciences and humanities, researchers noted that participants who adopted a more outdoor lifestyle had a better mood and higher vitamin D levels.
7. Smile "Smiling sends signals to the brain of emotional well-being,” Ron Gutman says in his TED talk. It's one of the easiest things we can do to improve both our mood, and the mood of those around us :)
Find ways to hit on several of these at once. Jonathan Fields, of The Good Life Project, says that he often schedules his work meetings as "walking meetings". Instead of meeting for lunch or a cup of coffee, he'll have the person meet him in the park and they'll talk while they walk. He talks about this in depth on his podcast.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.