7) Stay positive
Surround yourself with happy, positive people. A popular African proverb says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you”. Negative energy can drain your happiness very quickly. Learn to forgive others. Try not to hold grudges. Don’t gossip. Instead speak well of others. And don’t sweat the small stuff. Accept what you can’t change. Nothing ever goes perfectly just like you imagine. The sooner you accept this truth, the sooner you’ll find your inner happiness. Staying positive is one of the key bedrock habits of happy people.
6) Develop resilience
Learn how to bounce back from failure. According to psychologist Peter Kramer, resilience, not happiness, is the opposite of depression. Happy people know how to bounce back from failure. Develop a resilient spirit. That is, the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. Find out what coping strategies work for you in difficult situations. When I feel overwhelmed I take a step back and give myself permission to be imperfect. For some people sharing their struggles with a loved one helps them cope. For others it’s engaging in a hobby or something they excel at. Find out what helps you cope and go to it often.
Thinking of toddlers from my clinical practice also helps me bounce back in troubling times. Toddlers are probably the most resilient creatures on the face of the earth. They fall down many times and get right back up before they learn to walk. They can spend hours poking and prodding at a toy until they figure out its nuances. Toddlers accept the world for what it really is instead of trying to change it. When they are tired, they sleep. When they are hungry, they eat. When they are happy, they laugh. What a wonderfully magical and happy world it would be if we all lived life like a 2-year-old!
5) Live minimally
Clutter has a way of sucking the energy and happiness out of anyone. If possible, try not to buy things you don’t need. Clear out things from your home and workplace that are not essential. Try not to spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need. Before you buy anything, ask yourself, twice, if this item will add to your overall happiness. If the answer is no, let it go. A clean, organized, clutter-free space is one of the best ways to stay stress-free and happy.
4) Take care of your body
Get enough sleep. Adopt a healthful diet. And exercise often. Excercise allows you to release endorphins. Endorphins make you feel happy. Excercise has also been shown to decrease the feelings of stress, depression and anxiety. When I’m feeling down, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go for a mile long jog to “get my endorphins going!” If anything, I feel more like indulging in some chocolate ice cream or <insert your choice of unhealthy, fat-laden snack> and reality TV back-seasons on Netflix! I try to resist this temptation. It helps if I try not to put too much pressure on myself. Afterall, we are only human. Instead, take a long walk in the park. Do some stretching. Or even yoga. I’m yet to hear of anyone feeling bad, or sad, after a good workout.
3) Give more than you take
Spend money and time on other people. Practice acts of kindness. Even with strangers. A recent law placed a 10 cent fee on reusable grocery bags at the store. Most people forget to bring their own bags and end up purchasing these bags at the store just to carry their groceries home. I was in this situation one day when the woman in front of me at the checkout counter bought me 2 bags. Even though it was no more than 20 cents, I was so touched by her gesture. I will never forget her thoughtfulness. Till this day, I pay it forward. Whenever I’m in the grocery store I always buy 2 bags at the checkout line for the person behind me. And their reaction is always surprise and complete gratitude. All for just 20 cents! It does not cost a lot to give to others. Look for ways to lift someone else’s day. The benefits to your happiness are priceless.
2) Appreciate what you have
Appreciate the simple pleasures. Live in the present. Happy people spend money on experiences instead of things. You are more likely to remember your child’s first birthday party than their first birthday gift. Case in point. Those 5 or 10-year-old Facebook memories you’re sent every so often to repost. The pictures always seem to bring a smile to your face because the image allows you to recount a positive memory. You may not have remembered exactly what you wore on that day but you remember how you felt, who was there, etc. Positive memories are an opportunity to foster endless happiness. Build as many as you can.