Happiness isn’t just an emotional state. Many years of research proves it goes much deeper. In fact, science shows that individuals who are happy live healthier and longer lives. The good news is that generating better bliss is something we can all do regardless of our genetics or environment.
Here are 20 proven tips to improve your happiness and well-being today:
#1 Go in nature – anyone who has ever stepped foot in the forest likely knows this – nature is a happy-maker. With its fresh air, relaxing sounds, and soothing appeal to all the senses, it is a sly mesmerist who can erase stress and instill well-being in a manner of minutes.
#2 Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Go cycling, take a walk, or play a game of football. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
#3 Get a pet – anyone who lives with a dog or a cat will tell you how much love there is to be found in this man/woman-beast relationship. According to statistics, individuals who have one or more pets in their homes lead happier lives, are substantially healthier, weigh less, and live longer than those who don’t.
#4 Practice gratitude – science has found that gratitude can considerably increase your happiness, and protect you from negativity, stress, anxiety, and depression. Occasionally, it can seem like a single event can throw our entire day off and we can miss some of the more enjoyable parts of the day. With this awareness that our mind tends to cling to the negative aspect, we can intentionally focus on the good parts of our day to offset this imbalance.
#5 Manage your emotions – some people spend more energy on avoiding their emotions than others do on actually feeling them. So the key is to give yourself unconditional permission to feel your feelings.
#6 Connect face-to-face with others – face-to-face social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to relieve stress and calm your nervous system. Interacting with another human being can quickly put the brakes on defensive stress responses like “fight-or-flight.” It also releases hormones that reduce stress, so you’ll feel better even if you’re unable to alter the stressful situation itself.
#7 Give – luckily, helping others is about one of the easiest behaviors to enact. You don’t have to make a huge sacrifice to reap the health benefits of a little altruism. Letting someone who seems frail or tired take your seat on a crowded bus or train is a pretty simple way to practice that small amount of kindness.
#8 Drink more water – the direct and indirect benefits of drinking water are numerous, and you’ll quickly realize that once you start drinking the recommended amount of 4-6 glasses of water per day.
#9 Go high carb low-fat vegan diet – what you eat, and even more importantly what you don’t eat, has a direct impact on the way you feel. Wholesome meals and fresh fruits give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a boost to your self-esteem, while junk and fatty food can take a toll on your mood and brain.
#10 Smile more – research shows that when you smile you feel better, reduce your own stress, but also uplift others! How? Your smile activates the smile muscles in others.
#11 Practice breathing exercises – there are a variety of breathing exercises (also known as pranayama) that take quite some skill and concentration at first, but if you practice them daily you’ll soon notice your mind feeling serene and an ”aliveness” in your body.
#12 Focus on experiences – studies show that spending our hard-earned money on amazing experiences can increase our long-term happiness. Replace “retail therapy” by adding more fun experiences to your life.
#13 Live in the present moment – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this state of mind – “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
#14 Set yourself a goal – whether you aspire to get fit, obtain that dream job or learn how to cook something other than toast, most of us have something we long to achieve during our lifetime. Rather than putting off your dreams and aspirations until a perfect moment that may never come, take some positive action and make a plan of how you will achieve your dream starting today, right now!
#15 Get inspired – find inspiration in everything from subscribing to a daily quote to listening to uplifting audiobooks on the way to work, reading books with fresh and exciting ideas.
#16 Practice yoga – advanced yogis will tell you that yoga is not only the path to enlightenment but also happiness. Many studies support this claim, pointing to yoga as a general practice for elevating mood, easing anxiety, and quelling stress.
#17 Get more sleep – getting enough rest and recovering energy will help you face your daily activities more efficiently and cope better with anxiety and stress.
#18 Positive affirmations – practicing affirmations (mentally or aloud) does indeed strengthen us by helping us believe in the potential of an action we desire to manifest. When we verbally affirm our ambitions and dreams, we are instantly empowered with a deep sense of reassurance that our wishful words will become reality.
#19 Try aromatherapy – while many of us think of aromatherapy as an aid to relaxation, there are also many oils you can use to help alleviate depression and boost your happiness. Good aromatherapy oils to leave you uplifted include geranium, bergamot, neroli, and jasmine.
#20 Choose hope – hope isn’t the same thing as optimism. Hope is believing the future will be better than the present and working to make it so. In one study, hope proved to be a strong predictor of satisfaction, leading the study’s scientists to suggest that hope is a symptom of happiness.
If you have other ideas or strategies you use to boost your well-being and happiness, please let me know in the comment section below.