Don’t Worry, Be Happy in 10 Steps
Although it seems like some people are just born happy, happiness is actually a learned and trained behavior. Some learned behaviors are good for you (like drinking plenty of water and being active) and others are bad (like smoking and fried foods). These behaviors, good and bad, are trained and reinforced daily. They require real work and commitment. But, what if you began to think of happiness as any other good habit, and found ways to let happiness grow within you each day? Try one (or all) of the suggestions below:
- Smile and Think “Happy”
Part of being happy is mind over matter. Emotion and action are reciprocal. A smile is an outward indication of happiness, but the action of smiling has been known to release dopamine in the brain, which physically can make you happier. If grinning in public is not your thing, try starting each day by smiling at yourself in the mirror.
- Meditate and/or Reflect
Take time out each day to shut out all outside distractions. Just 5 minutes each day can help you mentally regroup and focus on goals. Meditation experts often recommend starting the day with quiet, reflection time before even getting out of bed. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and be still.
- Get outside and move
Spend at least 30 minutes (5 days per week) moving with purpose. Choose a physical activity and do it with gusto! Swimming, jogging, biking, or brisk walking are excellent ways to get moving and take your mind off negative factors in your life.
- Eat well
You know the saying “you are what you eat”. Eating light and healthy foods don’t weigh heavy on your stomach and digestive system. Getting enough fiber and green, leafy veggies will also help flush out other toxins in your body. Start by adding a self-prepared, healthy meal to your weekly routine.
- Connect with people and/or nature
Surround yourself with positive people and comforting surroundings. Find time each week to meet with friends or go to a remote part of town. And city dwellers can benefit tremendously from a break out on the balcony or terrace. Stop and listen to the birds or enjoy the seasonal changes in nature. Take a moment to stop and smell the roses!
- Plan your day/week/month
Feel like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off? You may find it easier to be happy when you know where you’re going. Planning out your week (2-3 goals per day) will help keep you on track. Daily planning may be overwhelming, but sitting down at the end of every week and making a basic list for the following week may give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Write in a journal
Channel your thoughts and emotions in a productive way. You don’t have to write long essays about your feelings. Even bullet lists of positive issues can help you reflect on the good in your life, and be grateful for it!
Clearing out space at home and at work can lead to freeing up your mind. Start small, pick a shelf or drawer or even a folder on your computer, and get rid of needless things (clothes, documents, electronics). See how much you can get done in 20 minutes. Even if you don’t finish everything on the decluttering plan, tackle reorganization projects at work can help to quiet your mind.
- Don’t procrastinate
Don’t avoid activities, things (or people) which make you unhappy. Putting things off ends up just prolonging that unhappy feeling. Facing your stressors head-on actually takes a load off your mind and frees up space for “happy” in your life.
- Love yourself
Happiness begins within. So, let self-love be your inner compass on your road to a happier you.
By practicing self-love, you will
Being happy encourages a surprising range of lifestyle habits that are important for overall health. Stress has been documented to lead to poor health, heart problems, and depression. Happy people tend to live longer, look and feel better, and enrich the lives of those around them.