If you want to experience more joy and less stress, the science is in and there are nine proven ways to be happier. Work on doing all nine and your bright smile may never leave your face.
1. Happy people have discovered the exercise-happiness link. Lots of happy people are regular exercisers. This isn’t a coincidence. Exercise boosts mood. Research published in the American Psychological Association indicates that exercise can help ward off depression and be more mentally resilient. Exercise curbs the stress hormone cortisol, gives you happy endorphins, mental clarity, and a great sense of personal pride and accomplishment. Once you find an exercise you love, you don’t even think about skipping.
2. Meditate. Today meditation is more mainstream than mystic. Meditation quiets the mind and stirs up self-compassion. Meditation, according to the Mayo Clinic, reduces stress, improves concentration, slows aging, increases self-awareness, boosts immunity and helps you relax. Many people credit meditation for reducing anxiety too.
3. Be Present. Be present sounds so simple, but have you really thought about whether or not you are in the present moment? Are you enjoying all that’s around you or is your head down and lost in your iPhone? When we focus on the here and now, time slows. We can enjoy all the amazing things that are happening in our life. Being present means we aren’t worrying about the past or feeling anxious about the future. Be where you are and fully enjoy the moment—whether that’s a meal, a smile from one of your kids, a great conversation or an intense workout.
4. Savor. Say you are indulging a little in a glass of your favorite red wine. Maybe you drink it slowly to fully enjoy the taste and smell and to make it last. That’s what savoring is … and you can do it with all of your happy moments. Savoring is getting the most out of all of your experiences by not being so busy that you miss it and go on to the next thing. Celebrate and marinate in all of your joy—little and big. Notice the details, use your senses, look through photo albums, reminisce about a favorite memory, and dwell on the good stuff.
5. Practice Gratitude. Gratitude is really the secret to happiness. We all have different life experiences, but we all have the choice to notice our blessings. I know you hear about gratitude all the time, but do you have a gratitude practice? Jot down one thing a day you are grateful for, or make a long list before you go to bed at night. A fun way to practice gratitude is to share your happiest moment of the day around the dinner table. Gratitude puts your mind in a positive place by pausing to appreciate all that is going right in your life.
6. Establish Habits. Habits are a tool to set you up for success. “What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while,” writes happiness expert and author Gretchen Rubin. If you want to have an ideal day, set yourself up for success with the right habits. What does an ideal day look like for you? Unplug time? Read? Exercise? Organize? If you want it to happen, make it automatic with a habit.
7. Find Your Flow. When do you feel completely in a groove? You found the magical mix of challenge and skill and you lose track of time? You are in a zone. While that feeling may not happen as often as you’d like, it’s an example of flow, a coin termed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology. Positive psychology experts believe experiencing flow is tied closely to personal happiness. Flow activities make us happier because we use our strengths but we also feel challenged. Notice next time you are doing something without distraction and you lose all sense of time. You have found your flow.
8.Spend Time Socializing. People who feel connected to others tend to be happier and live longer, according to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones. Make sure you aren’t so busy that you are always pushing off social interactions to another time. Even if you have to schedule it, get plenty of time with family and friends. Meet up for coffee. Take a walk with a friend. Plan a girls’ night out. Connecting with others is the opposite of social isolation and it boosts our outlook and enhances our well-being.
9. Give back to Others. The quickest way out of a bad day or a bad mood is to do something nice for someone else. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Write a sweet note to your spouse. Send someone an encouraging book along to a friend email. Meet up for a cup of coffee. Give someone a sincere compliment. Giving takes you out of your head and puts the focus on someone else—sometimes just when you need it. What you give ends up giving back to you in the end.
Your happiness may take a little planning, but your investment will pay off. A happier you means a more positive, energetic, motivated, productive and healthier you.
Another way to increase the joy in your life is to surround yourself with positive people and positive words! Click for printable and positive inspiration here!
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