We all want to be happy in life, but many of us wonder (if not come to expect, depending on where we’ve been searching) if nonstop joy is just going to ‘appear’ in the future once we achieve ‘this’ or get ‘that’, or, sometimes, without us even doing anything at all.
While it does appear that happiness can, at times, operate in this manner, it remains an extremely rare phenomenon. For most of us, happiness is something we need to cultivate, just as we would a garden. It involves diligence, attention and hard work; from planting, to weeding, to patiently trimming, there is much we can do to facilitate greater satisfaction and happiness in ourselves over time.
And, of course, there’s no time like the present, so stop pushing it away and waiting to be happy! Get your hands in the soil and get to work. If you devote yourself to these 8 habits, joy will grow in your life like a beautifully tended flower garden.
1) Nutritious Food
It may seem basic, but eating enough food that has high levels of vitamins, minerals, and the various essential nutrients causes your body, including your brain and all your feelings, to work more efficiently. Typically, fresh fruits and vegetables plus healthy protein and fat can be some of the best foods for building up the body while staying healthy and happy.
2) Daily Movement
The human body is not designed to be immobile, sitting for hours upon hours daily. Yet this is how high numbers of people in the U.S. and Canada are living. Much better is to incorporate movement every day of your life, even if it’s just as simple as throwing the baseball with the kids or riding bikes. Exercise and movement have so many reported benefits, and these can in turn contribute to a heightened happiness level.
People who do not get enough sleep tend to feel miserable physically, mentally, and emotionally. They’re irritable, find it difficult to focus on tasks, and are generally lethargic. Getting enough sleep based on your body’s individual needs, which is typically about 8 hours per night for an adult, can make a profound difference in your happiness level.
4) Healthy, Positive Relationships
We’ve all been around people who are difficult to tolerate in certain ways, and even just being in their presence can drain our energy. Perhaps they instigate arguments, don’t know the “give and take” principle — and thus just ‘take’ — or they have constant sour attitudes.
Whatever the problem is with getting along with them, the best thing for the sake of your happiness is to steer clear of them when you can, and to practice silence around them when you can’t. Continuous interaction with perpetually negative people will only cause you to be less happy and more stressed in the end. Unless they begin striving to genuinely improve their interactions with others, weed them out, and don’t feel bad about it.
5) Attitude of Gratitude
People who consciously acknowledge, and express gratitude for, all the many wonderful people, things, and places in their lives already have a jump start on everyone else when it comes to happiness.
It is essential for everyone to get into the habit of expressing gratitude and listing blessings often. One easy and efficient way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. At a certain time that you’ve designated, such as at bedtime, write in the journal examples of people or events that you appreciate, get you excited, and make you feel good.
6) Hobbies and Fun Pursuits
Life is not just about work, work, work with no time for play. Work quickly and efficiently, and once your job for the day is done, it’s time to relax and enjoy. Spend time in hobbies you feel truly passionate about, whether it’s a sport, artistic endeavor, or simply reading. Certain studies also suggest that people who make fun and hobbies a daily part of their lives may have a tendency to live longer.
7) Relaxation Strategies and Techniques
If you’re frequently feeling stressful and tense, it can feel impossible to ever unwind, kick back, and relax, yet this is something you simply must make time for. Getting relaxed not only makes you a more positive person, it also makes you happier!
Practice even simple strategies like deep breathing and basic stretches. Listening to certain styles of music such as soft instrumental and classical can also be great tension reducers. If you have the time and money, getting a professional massage can be an excellent boost to your overall mood, and specifically your happiness as well.
You should never consider yourself too old or too serious to enjoy various things that you did when you were younger, such as acting silly and sharing in a good belly laugh with friends or loved ones. Or losing yourself in a comedy or light-hearted movie.
Don’t have many funny friends? Get too busy with work and responsibilities over the years to maintain some of those important relationships? Well, maybe it’s time to get back out there and see if you can meet some. Cracking jokes with relaxed people who aren’t easily offended will often be much more fun than watching a movie — not to mention it doesn’t cost a thing!
As Bobby McFerrin once famously said: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.“
Of course, that might seem easier said (or sung) than done, and it’s true that achieving the breezy lifestyle depicted in the song requires some commitment and dedication, as with so many things, it’s somewhat paradoxical — relax into the work! Learn to expend effort in an effortless manner!
By incorporating the strategies outlined here, you’re definitely off to a good start.