Everybody wants to be happy. It’s part of the human condition that we are programmed to seek out what feels good, and shun what feels bad. Happiness feels good. Feeling good is happiness. Most of us are searching for happiness, but are you actually planning for happiness?
An article published a few years back in Psychology Today explained that we have a set-point for happiness. In simple terms, the set-point happiness theory posits that we have a baseline for happiness, determined by genetics and personality traits ingrained in us early in life. It further proposes that our happiness level may change temporarily in response to life circumstances (i.e. new job, nice car, infatuation, losing weight) but will ultimately return to a set point.
In short, this theory argues that the average of your happiness is about as happy as you’re going to be. However, studies have shown that there are a few things you can do regularly that will actually increase your set point for happiness in the long term. I have found that deciding to be happy requires planning, and daily recommitment to a positive frame of mind.
5 Tips on How To Be Happy
1. Spend time outside
Being in nature is good for the mind, body, and spirit. Take time to disconnect from the computer and even your cell phone, and just go for a walk in the fresh air. Look at the clouds, ocean, or flowers. Allow yourself to become immersed in the beauty of the present moment.
Regular exercise improves mood and helps turn a bad day into a good day! Even though working out is often the last thing we want to do when feeling down, a quick fifteen minute workout can boost endorphin levels, resulting in less stress and a generally happier you!
3. Eat Good Food
Believe it or not, food is medicine. Choosing a diet that’s rich in nutrients from whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables will help ensure that you’re eating the good-mood food. Want to know which foods will put a smile on your face? Some great options include dark chocolate, blueberries, coconut, and honey. Try this Dark Chocolate Coconut Pudding and toss some fresh blueberries on top.
4. Connect with Real Humd
In real time. In real life. Sometimes we get stuck in a cycle of negative vibes, and spending quality time with a friend who makes you smile or laugh can help break the pattern of Debbie downer behavior. Get together with a friend for coffee, tea, or a funny movie and spend some time sharing. Hugs are also an epic way to get yourself smiling. I dare you to give someone a solid bear hug and walk away frowning. Go ahead. Try it.
5. Be Consciously Happy
Don’t let your feelings run the show. Happiness is a choice. When you start to feel poopy, and want to be a grump, give yourself a set amount of time to wallow in your misery, and also a deadline for the crankies to be over. Try allowing yourself five minutes to stew – maybe writing down all the negative thoughts – and then spend the next five minutes focusing on things to be grateful for! Start a gratitude list in your journal (or gratitude jar like this one) so that you can refer back to it when you start feeling down.
6. Treat Yourself Well
Make a point to spend at least thirty minutes a day doing something that feels like a gift to yourself. Paint your nails, read a novel, sit and watch the sunset. Give yourself the gift of that half hour to simply enjoy the moment, without obsessing over everything that led up to it and everything you need to do later. You, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your love and affection.
7. Wake Up Happy
Right when you wake up in the morning, take two minutes to sit and set an intention for your day. If you pray, spend this time in communion with the divine. You may also write happy notes to yourself and stick them around your room, on the bathroom mirror, or on the kitchen cabinet. Use positive affirmations and positive thinking to set the tone for your entire day.
8. Help Others
It feels better to give than to receive, right? So take a few minutes out of your day and do something kind for another person, without asking anything in return. Pay for a strangers coffee, leave fresh flowers on a co-workers desk, or sneak a positive note onto a random windshield. Immediately you will find a pep in your step, knowing that someone is going to have a brighter day.
9. Let Go
Stop trying to control everything. When you obsess over tiny details, it makes it hard to see the beauty of the big picture. When things don’t go your way, ask yourself, “Can I change it?” If the answer is yes, take action. If the answer is no, find a way to accept it and make peace. There are so many things we can’t control. Fortunately, our attitude is not one of them.
10. Write Your Happiness
Keep a happiness journal – I’ve been loving this one, The Happiness Planner. Take a few minutes before bed to reflect on the day, write down how and when you chose happiness. Plan for it. Don’t let happiness be based on your circumstances. You have the power to be happy!
What are your top feel-good tips? I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment or connect with me on Instagram @stoked_yogi. xoxo
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