You know what is the hardest thing to become happy? To wake up with a smile on your face every morning and looking forward what each day will bring you. Well apparently not much (Wait what?), all we need is little change in our perspective and we can be become quite happy. Good news it doesn’t take much effort to change our perspective on how we view the world around us, but it takes time.
Some studies say around 21 days, others up to 90 days. I believe it depends how we fast can we accept change, some are faster at adapting than others. So how much effort will you put in just to become 10% happier? Are you committed to be happier or just interested ? You have to remember that time will pass anyway, so today you can choose how you want to feel in the future. If you won’t change, things won’t change (sadly L), but just being aware that we hold the power to change our future is exciting.
I’ve chosen the following habits because they don’t need much work to perform. They are easy habits, that can be done under 5 minutes, you can choose to do them all, or just the one you like. If you are new to these habits, I recommend to start with the one you like, and when you mastered that habit (when it doesn’t take much effort to perform it) add another and so one. Taking all at once will sooner or later backfire, you will lose motivation and willpower to perform any of the habits and you be back on square one. So to avoid overload, start small and finish strong.
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What is the last time you were grateful for of the things you take for granted ? Take a moment and think three things that you are grateful today. It can be family, work, health, wealth, material things… Even if you have a job that you hate, family that doesn’t support you; just waking up alive, with good health, having both hands and legs is something you can be grateful for.
For some people this habit can be a challenge, I understand that, I was in similar position in life where nothing was going my way. I hated my job, I was in toxic relationship where I didn’t had much power, I disconnected myself from my family, I let people walk all over me. Not fun. I recognized that where I was, is because of the choices and decisions I made, and I became aware that living in a city has many opportunities.
So I start looking for another job, left my girlfriend, start going out meeting other people. My self confidence rose, I started talking to my family again. Finding that I have the power to change things in my life, was amazing. Just living in a city that has many opportunities is one of the things I am grateful for.
What is the point of gratitude?
Well on the long term, it changes our focus on the positive things in our life; it helps you deal with stress, develops stronger relationship, improve self-esteem, and overall makes you a happier person.
How to practice gratitude?
Write in your journal or in your phone 3 things you are grateful today. It can be anything you want, from having a healthy relationship with you family to having a beer in your fridge. Each day add 3 new things you are grateful. Add the all the small things you can be grateful for, you choose what you want to add. This habit takes 1-3 min to perform, best in the morning first thing after waking up and review at night before going to bed.
Tip: Add a reminder on your phone.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
What Socrates meant (my opinion) is to know ourselves, find your weakness and strength. What makes you move, stop, hesitate and everything in between. If you have a feeling that your life is passing you by, every day is the same, joy is a forgotten emotion. These are some side effects living on autopilot, and it is time to take a break from a passive life. We are living in an information overload age; your mind is bombarded with new, useless information every day.
You are not you, society made you, and you are not fulfilled because you don’t know what you want. To bring more self-awareness and clarity in our lives the best tool is to keep a journal. Focus you attention on yourselves what you want, what are afraid of, what you hope to achieve. Write everything down.
Writing in a journal is the best conversation to have with yourself. Write any creative ideas, goal, aspirations, how you feel or if you just need to vent. Writing down is one step closer to become a happier person. It is known that people who keep a journal are generally happier. It is the best way to find your inner motivation, and purpose in life.
How I practice journaling
Every night before bed, I wrote down my day, what was good, bad, what can I improve, what I said, what should I said, how I felt… Sometimes I write down stupid ideas on how to achieve world domination.
Just putting ideas or problems on paper made me feel lighter. Holding things inside makes you feel anxious, which lead to other problems. So if you want to be a slightly happier person, keeping a journal is a must.
You heard about meditation and you know what it is all about. You can read online the many benefits it provides and how to practice it. I will write down the benefits I received from practicing meditation and how I do it.
How I meditate?
Mediation is the first thing I do when I wake up. I sit on my bed, relax every part of my body and try to inhibit all thoughts. Focus on my breathing and be aware of every thought that comes into my mind. I am not able to inhibit all thought and achieve total mindfulness, but when I catch myself being lost in a thought I focus back to my breath. This goes on and on for about 20 minutes.
For beginners I recommend starting with HeadSpace app (trial version), after that try different types of meditations and see what suits you best.
What benefits I got from meditation
First thing I became more aware of my thoughts. When working on my projects if I catch myself thinking about pizza (oh yes, please), or wanting to watch another episode of Always Sunny In Philadelphia, I eliminate that thought and focus back to work (not always J, but I try).
Next benefit I’m less tense in social situations, I learned to relax and somehow improved my self-confidence. I started trying more things that are out of my comfort zone, just by being aware of my excuses and replacing them with positive thoughts.
Starting meditation is hard, for the first week I couldn’t relax and be still for long period of time. When I learned how to relax my body, the next challenge is to eliminate all thought by focusing on my breathing. As an introvert (someone who is in his head all the time), this is hard and I’m still having trouble. But so far the benefits I received are great, and you can bet that I’m a bit happier than before.
You have to exercise your body as well as your mind. When you are feeling down, depressed, sad, it is seen on your body. Slouched shoulders, head tilted forward, low energy, slow movement. I challenge you now to stop reading, stand up and do 10 jumping jacks. Done ? Great, how does it make you feel? Do you feel better? Motion provokes emotion, our mind and body are connected. You can easily spot a happy person by his body language.
So to raise your levels of happiness, get up and start moving. Do anything, go for a walk, run, pushups, just start moving. Take a note how many hours per day are you sitting down. Remember, you have only one body. Treat it well, with good food and regular exercises. I recommend at least 30 minutes exercises per day.
Well it is pretty self explanatory, music influences our mood. Happy songs makes you happy, sad songs makes you sad. Make a playlist of happy songs on your phone, and play it each morning when you brushing your teeth (make a little dance, and smile at the mirror J), making breakfast and so on. Implement music when doing monotone work, like laundry or cleaning the dishes.
Give to others
One of the best feeling of the world is when we are helping other people. Giving to other connects people, creates stronger bonds, and after all builds a better community for all. You can give money, time, ideas, energy, advice. Sometimes complimenting other, makes me feel better. If you really want to be a happier person, put other people before you.
But don’t let people walk all over you, be aware when somebody need your help or is just taking advantage of you. If you don’t know where so start, look for volunteer groups on social media.
There are many more habits and tips that can make you a happier person. We have listed just some that take little effort to implement and can give big returns. Start small with one habit and make it part of your day. After that add another. Take a note how much is changing around you, just by having a positive mental attitude. Remember our goal is to become happier person. We have to take each day at a time and don’t rush everything at once. So start small and finish strong. Good luck.