Source: MSN Health
Each day, take note of three positive things that happened, suggests Amita Patel, a health and happiness coach and founder of Aligned Holistics. And don't discount the "little" wins, such as getting to work on time or making it to the gym. Not only will these wins help you reframe your days in a more positive light, it will also give you encouragement to keep that positive momentum going whenever a bad day arises. Along with highlighting the wins, don't carry any negativity into the next day. "Surrender whatever happened that day with the knowledge that tomorrow is a fresh start," she says.
They say that money can't buy happiness. And that may be true for the most part. But according to a study out of San Francisco State University, people are actually happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than things since experiences often lead to a deeper closeness between those who share them. So instead of buying a new handbag, book a family vacation to a place you've never been, buy tickets to a concert you've wanted to go to for years or take a class you've always wanted to try..
The quality of a night's sleep is, in general, a pretty solid indication of how happy we'll be the next day. For optimal sleep all year long, Patel suggests creating a self-care ritual before bedtime to help you unwind and sleep more soundly. Take a bath with Epsom salts (the magnesium will especially help you relax), meditate or journal for 10 minutes—whatever it is you need to decompress, let go of the day and give yourself some precious "me time.
With the start of a new year, it's tempting to fixate on everything we don't have and want—whether it's returning to your pre-baby weight or not having that dream job. Though setting resolutions to attain whatever it is you want are certainly fine to have, it's equally important to acknowledge what you do have at this present moment. This can be especially vital in strengthening your relationships. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, participants who wrote a letter of gratitude to someone showed a surge in their "happiness scores," with benefits that lasted for a month. Think of twelve people you'd like to thank (yourself included!) and pick one to write a note to each month.
SURROUNDED BY HAPPINESS
When you choose to have happy, charismatic people in your social circle, you can't help but feel invigorated by their energy. In a recent study that focused on teens' mental health, having happy friends cut the participants' chances of developing depression within the next 12 months by 50 percent. Meanwhile, if they were already experiencing depression, having happy friends doubled their chances of recovery within 12 months. Do an inventory of the people you spend the majority of your time with and the topics of your conversations. Do they gravitate toward gossiping and complaining? Or do they give reassurance and encouragement? Spend more time with upbeat people this year and see how it affects your emotional well being.
Cleaning out clutter can have as profound of an effect on our mental state as it can on our closets. If there's one motto to have when tackling this task, consider the premise of Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" and only keep what brings you joy. She suggests cleaning by category, not location. For example, gather every piece of clothing from every part of your house and place all of them on the floor. If you're having trouble letting go of something (because you've never worn it or it was expensive), thank the item for the joy it once brought you and then put it in the giveaway pile. It may sound simple, but organization can carry over to other parts of your life. "When people are organized and tidy, they feel more powerful," Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, told the "Today" show. "If you build that into your life, that helps you in everything.
Simply put, exercise produces endorphins (a chemical to counteract stress), which can minimize discomfort and even create euphoria. And research suggests that you can experience the after-effects of post-exercise happiness even on days when you aren't able to get in a workout, so long as you exercise regularly. If you're not much of an exerciser, start small by merely stretching in the morning before getting into the shower. One idea is to do a 60-second "moving meditation," suggests Stephanie Mansour, a health coach and founder of Step It Up with Steph. The practice consists of doing half a yoga sun salutation as you repeat one word that you'd like to be the theme for your day, such as "happiness," "patience"or "productivity." This will stimulate circulation, stretch tight muscles and get your day on "a centered foot," she says, all before breakfast.
It probably isn't news to you that giving is more gratifying than receiving. The reason? It creates a "positive feedback loop," according to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. In other words, volunteering or performing random acts of kindness brings about higher levels of happiness, which makes you inclined to continue doing kind things. Whether you volunteer an afternoon each week at the Humane Society or buy coffee for the person behind you at the drive-thru one morning each month, bringing happiness to others will benefit your own.
LEARN A NEW SKILL
When you discover a newfound skill or a hobby, it isn't surprising if you find yourself becoming immersed in practicing it as often as possible. This is called "flow," a term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, where a person is so engaged in making progress on a challenging task that he's oblivious to any feelings of self-consciousness. This, Csikszentmihalyi believes, is a major factor in producing long-term happiness. So pick up the guitar, start learning Italian or sign up for dance classes. You might find your new hobby makes you happier than you've been in months, maybe years.
A study conducted by Harvard University determined that a "happiness formula" consists of caring for yourself physically, emotionally and financially. In regard to the latter, one key tip proffered by financial experts is to "pay yourself first." In other words, before you buy anything that isn't a necessity (such as groceries), pay down your debt or invest your money. One rule of thumb is to invest 15 percent of your income, says Andrea Travillian, founder of Smart Step Financial Coaching. A few other things to have in place to ensure good financial health: An emergency fund, proper insurance and contributing something every month toward savings, even if it's just $50, she says.
Ever notice a shift in your mood once you pry yourself away from Facebook? Maybe you're annoyed over the hour you just spent reading status updates or perhaps you're feeling envious over some new accomplishment a college acquaintance (whom you haven't talked to in over 10 years) just posted. As it turns out, you're not alone. A study conducted by the Happiness Research Institute found that Facebook users are 39 percent more likely to feel unhappy than non-Facebook users. That said, opt for more live interactions this year. "If you start feeling down and trapped in a negative feedback loop of staring at other people's two-dimensional pixelated lives, getting back into the three-dimensional mode can be helpful," says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist based in New York City. One suggestion for making this happen more often: Call each of your friends on their birthdays this year in lieu of a Facebook message or text. Chances are, a meaningful catch-up session will leave you feeling far happier than scrolling through your newsfeed (and will probably take up less time, too).
BE ON TIME
It doesn't feel great being known as the person who's "perpetually late." Besides starting a day on the wrong foot, it also doesn't bode well for lasting happiness when you're constantly frazzled, anxious and stressed. Instead, start practicing mise en place, as the French say, making sure everything is prepped before you begin a new day. "Preparing your clothes, accessories and your lunch for the next day makes you feel ahead of the game," says Debbie Mandel, a stress-management expert and author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life." Better yet, put whatever you can for the next day in the car the night before, too.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
As obvious as it may sound, a major key to happiness is pinpointing what makes you happy rather than what you think makes you happy because it seems more cultured or more "legitimate," notes Gretchen Rubin in her book "The Happiness Project." For example, if you're struggling to finish "War and Peace" when you'd rather be reading "Harry Potter," just make the switch. "If something was really fun for me, it would pass this test: I looked forward to it; I found it energizing, not draining; and I didn't feel guilty about it later," Rubin says.