Seven steps to a happier you.
Many of us associate happiness with great achievements and material gains. But the truth is happiness comes from within. So how do we generate more happiness in our lives?
1. Reframe your experiences
Shakespeare once wrote: ‘Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so’. In other words, it's not necessarily life’s events or challenges that shape how we feel, but how we choose to interpret them. Those of us who view the world through a ‘glass half full’ lens tend to enjoy more happiness in our lives. It might be tough at times, but looking for the positives in any situation is a sound prescription for happiness.
2. Stick with the winners
In other words, surround yourself with happy people who create more joy in your life. Other people act as our mirrors – we see ourselves reflected in their attitudes and behaviours. Choose them wisely and limit time spent with misery mongers. We all need positive, caring people to support us along the way.
3. Be kind to yourself
Most of us are our own worst critics. Be aware of thoughts which contain oughts, shoulds and musts. These are the thoughts that can automatically pop into our heads at any moment, impacting on our self esteem. For instance, telling yourself you should be in a relationship, you ought to find love, you must try harder at something is simply going to make you feel defeated. Replace these words with ‘I could…if I really wanted to.’ Psychologists suggest that this is one way of prioritising what you really want to do and what you feel you ought to do.
4. Practice mindfulness
Typically, we spend most of our waking hours thinking about the past or future. What’s more, our minds are constantly racing with internal chatter, much of which is chaotic. Being mindful means resisting the impulse to plug into the din, and instead focusing on simple tasks and the world around us. It might be something as simple as noticing how you brush your teeth or the beautiful trees that line a street.
5. Be grateful
Various scientific studies show that people who regularly practice gratitude tend to happier, have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure. They also sleep better. Making a daily note of the good things in our lives – be it the roof over our heads or a stranger who smiles at us on the bus – can really help create more satisfaction.
6. Accept your lack of control
As much as we all have goals and ambitions, the reality is life is hugely unpredictable and we cannot ever fully control people, places and things around us. Once we accept this – and decide to do our best and let go - we’re far more likely to make space for more joy in our lives.
7. Stop the splurging
Many studies demonstrate that while material possessions often bring short-term high, they rarely lead to long-term happiness. It’s the quality of our relationships and being part of a meaningful community that boosts the happiness meter. So don’t feel you have to splurge on those designer shoes or mobile phone upgrade – take some time with friends or relatives who make you laugh instead.