At this time of the year we often take stock of what we have, and don’t have in our lives and what we would like to change. Most of us seek to be happy as the primary goal in life. Sometime we feel if we can get our ultimate job, meet the man of our dreams, have that longed for family or win the lottery, we will be happy. But happiness is not necessarily a natural state.
We are not merely happy or depressed people. Happiness is something that has to be worked at. Just like if you want to lose weight, you need to put some effort into being happy and nobody is happy all of the time – life is a rollercoaster but if we didn’t have the bad times, the good times wouldn’t feel so good.
So what can you do to be happier in 2012?
1. Random acts of kindness. Ok maybe not completely random as we know how Londoners act if you simply say hello on the tube, however when you do something thoughtful for others it does make you feel good. It can be as simple as paying a compliment to a stranger, sending a friend a card for no other reason than to tell them how much you value the friendship or buy a Big Issue seller a cup of tea. Making someone else smile, you can’t help but smile yourself.
2. Mindfulness. Live in the moment and enjoy what you have right now. Being aware of the now and what is going on around you can help you appreciate things and takes your focus away from future anxieties, which often are unknown anyway.
3. Forgiveness. A study by the University of Tennessee found that people who forgave betrayals had less stress and lower blood pressure. So forgiveness is good for your heart as well as your happiness! Learn to let go of the betrayal. It doesn’t mean you have to forget and allow them to do it again but don’t dwell on it. Look forward not backward.
4. Fake it til you make it. If you act happy, you become happy. Positive feedback over time changes your moods meaning you actually begin to feel happier. In the same way if you smile even when you don’t feel happy, facial feedback will result in you feeling happier. It really is that simple.
5. Be in a loving relationship. It is true that when we are in a loving relationship with someone we trust and respect that we are happier as humans. Note we say loving and not perfect as no relationship is perfect and striving for that will only lead to disappointment and unhappiness. As an added bonus, sex gives us the chance at physical intimacy which has been shown to make us happier as well as releasing stress busting hormones.
6. Be around those you love. Even if you’re not currently in a relationship being around family and friends who are supportive, you enjoy spending time with and love boosts your moods by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Being involved in your community also can give you a sense of purpose and belonging, particularly if family are not nearby.
7. Be your best self physically. If you are healthy and active you will get more out of life. Eat food that fuels the body, do exercise to increase serotonin, get out into the fresh air and get enough sleep and you body will be raring to go with whatever is on offer in your life.
8. Say NO. It’s ok to say no to people if it is too much of strain on you or you don’t want to do. All you have to do is explain why you are unable to do it and most people will understand. If there are people in your life who are simply too demanding, treat you badly or are mean, it is alright to eliminate them – from your life that is! A life audit and decluttering of not just possessions but people and pressures too will help you feel a lot happier.
[picture credits: Vermin Inc]