Have you ever come across that person who seems to be happy all the damn time? Or do you have a friend who is one of those painfully joyful people who never seem to have a worry in the world…ever? On one hand we’re momentarily boosted by their contagious high spirits, and on the other we’re secretly wondering ‘how do I get me some-a-that!?’
Fear not, happiness is a free commodity; most good things in life are.
It’s natural to have up days and down days, but it’s also possible to make sure there are more highs than lows. We have complete control over this. It’s about the only thing in life we do have absolute control over.
Life can make choices for us. Sometimes these choices seem unhappy or unfair, but in the end we control our own destiny because we can decide how people and events affect us.
– Nancye Sims
On the whole, I like to think of myself as a happy person. However, I am also female and suffer from mood swings like most red-blooded women. The other day I found myself in a terrible, stroppy mood and couldn’t really pin point why, so I decided to make a list of things that make me happy and pull myself out of the mood I was wallowing in!
So if you find yourself regularly moping around or suffering from the blues, here are 10 ways of creating more happiness in your life:
- Laugh more. At least 10 minutes a day is ideal, more is much better! Surround yourself with humorous, entertaining friends, YouTube your favourite comedian, watch a funny movie (Horrible Bosses comes to mind) or reminisce to times that made you crack up. Smiling and laughter is contagious. Even smiling at random strangers will make you (and them) feel happier…and wonder what you’ve been up to. If all else fails, just watch this video – trust me.
- Get active. Go sweat it out. If you go for a run, a barefoot dance or a 90 minute Bikram Yoga session I guarantee you will come out feeling not only amazing and healthy, but also very happy! Aerobic exercise is a great way of clearing your head and boosting endorphins. Plus physically sweating will not only release toxins but also your worries!
- Spend time in nature. Do you ever feel the need to escape the big, bustling city? It’s a proven fact that people who live in the country are happier people. Book a weekend to a retreat in the bush or by the ocean and bask in the atmosphere. If you haven’t got time for this, set aside a day of bush walking outside of the big smoke, where you can soak up the beauty, the smells, the flora & fauna, the noises, the textures and the colours. It will ground you and energise you.
- Get more sleep. A seven or eight hour sleep vs a five or six hour sleep is the difference between a good day and a bad day. Waking up on the right side of the bed gives you a kick start for whatever your plans are for the day ahead. Your mind will be clearer, you will feel less stressed and you will have an abundance of energy. Also, when you wake up, try meditating for 5 or 10 minutes – this will centre you for the day.
- Give thanks. It’s impossible to feel angry or depressed when you feel gratitude: fact. Think of all the things you are grateful for in your life (your unique self, your talents, your job, your partner, your home, your friends, your body, your family etc.) and give thanks for it. Appreciate those who have enhanced the quality of your life; they are a gift to you and you are a gift to them.
- Engross yourself in a creative hobby. Immerse yourself in what you love to do – painting, writing, dancing, yoga, kung fu etc. Cultivating your passions gets you out of feeling sorry for yourself and concentrating on stuff you love to do!
- Contribute. No matter who you are, there is always someone else out there worse off than you. Get together all your old clothes you don’t wear anymore and take them to vinnies, volunteer at a homeless shelter, raise money for a charity or go buy a present or a bunch of flowers for someone you love. Studies have shown that volunteers are 10 times more likely to be in good emotional and physical health because volunteering reduces stress and releases endorphins. Exercise your sense of altruism!
- Eat happy food. In a slump? Eat a banana. Don’t like bananas? Hide them in a smoothie. According to a recent study in people suffering from depression, eating bananas assisted in boosting their moods and made them feel better. Other foods include nuts, pumpkin seeds, turkey, coconut, cacao, honey or dark chocolate. Drinking herbal tea such as green, oolong or camomile will also boost your mood or calm you down depending on your drug of choice.
- Have more sex. Ideally every day. Kim Anami urges ‘your sexual connection is designed to be a source of energy, nourishment and pleasure that feeds you and enriches not just your relationship, but your entire lives’. Read here about the married couple who opted to have sex every day for a year – rejuvenating their sex life and their overall happiness! Regular sex triggers the release of various brain chemicals, such as dopamine, vasopressin and oxytocin, which are associated with creativity, problem-solving, cooperation and confidence. Now you have an excuse (not that you needed reassurance) so get busy!
- Replace fears with affirmations. Write down a list your fears, making them as precise as possible, read them out to yourself, then BURN them (somewhere safe and preferably not in a fire ban zone)! After you have ceremoniously burnt them to smithereens, on a new piece of paper write down all your positive affirmations. For example, if you had a fear of public speaking, write down that you are completely capable, knowledgeable and inspirational presenter who is cool, calm and collected. Visualise this and make it a reality. Writing stuff down helps tremendously with getting stuff out of your head, creating more space for positive, happy thoughts!
It’s all relative. Some people get their kicks out of external ambitions such as climbing the corporate ladder, earning the big bucks, or becoming number one in a sport. Others seek happiness in intrinsic goals such as spiritual enlightenment or company of friends or family. Whether you’re an internal or external happiness seeker, if you had to list your top ten values or guiding forces in your life, I’m almost certain happiness would rank somewhere in that list. Inspirational gurus such as the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra were onto something when they said the purpose of our lives is the pursuit of happiness and that happy people aren’t just more successful, but also have better health.
One thing to be aware of is slipping into the trap of ‘I’ll be happy when I get this or when I get that’. This is an unhealthy mentality, because what if you reach that time and you’re not happy? I recently pulled my friend up on unconsciously doing this. We were sitting down together at breakfast time and going through our core values (as you do) and of course happiness came up on her list. She then proceeded to say, ‘Once I pay off all my debt, lose 5kg and finish my studies, I will be happier’. I said to her, ‘Sure you might be happier, but if you pin all your hopes on the future, you miss out on the NOW’. Who knows how long it will take you to pay off all your credit cards, or lose a few kilos or what if you want to study something else one day? Imagine if you were putting off all of this awesome happiness for 20 years!?
Happiness is available right here, right now. Take it!
Refuse to be unhappy; be cheerful instead.