How does happiness affect your life? What truly makes you happy? How can you get more happiness?
Everyone has different answers to these questions and not everyone achieves as much happiness as they like. But there are some simple techniques to increase happiness for you and for others.
Happiness is an important emotion to have in life. Most of us grow up with a natural flow of happiness from love ones and friends which purely fuelled organically. With age, some lose these blissful relationships and happiness takes on a path of achievement or status.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success”
How does Happiness affect your life
I’ve noticed that my meaning of happiness has changed immensely over the past 10 years. In fact, something that would have bought me joy many years ago would almost do the opposite now. I can see how this can cause depression for some as they feel their sense of happiness from years ago is gone. But what I’ve found is, the sense of happiness just changes and sometimes you just need to find it again.
As this meaning of contentment moves through cycles, you will feel highs and lows. At the lows, you will feel empty like there is something missing. You can’t quite put your finger on it until you direct yourself to what happiness used to mean to you. This is a pitfall and has the potential to burrow you down to dark places.
Then you find your flow, light is shining joy from your heart. A new meaning of happiness that you have never had before. Enjoy this, accept this and know that this may also pass.
On this rollercoaster of happiness, it may not just affect your mood, health and performance but also the individuals around you. Vice versa, other people’s levels of happiness will also affect your energy.
It’s important to accept all stages of life’s ups and downs and know that your happiness level will fluctuate. Its at the highest and lowest points where we should be grateful for all moments of happiness.
What makes you happy
Endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and other feel good hormones from a chemical stand point. These create those tingling feelings of joy when doing things you love.
Moving into the material happiness, some would say money, status, cars, sports, holidays and all these exciting or rewarding components of life can be the main source of happiness. If you strip back and remove them from your life, what else makes you happy?
Using a gratitude journal really opens up your mind and shows you what really brings you happiness when you take away material things. I’m not saying material things don’t bring joy, but do they represent a meaningful happiness?
It’s also strange when you hear of millionaires not being able to find joy in life but some of the poorest folks in the world can be the happiest you’ll ever meet. This comes down to perception of your situation. Shawn Achor in his brilliant book The Happiness Advantage explains that our perception is like a fulcrum lever and we have the power to put the weight of happiness where want on the fulcrum.
After using a gratitude journal almost every day for the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that I’ve subtracted more material items which previously bought me happiness. I’ve become less of a consumer, more clutter free (physically and mentally) and thankful for different and sometimes smaller things in life. My appreciation ranges from a warm cup of coffee in the morning, enjoying company with friends or family to being thankful I have great eye sight to see the world. This has increased my perception on happiness and has made it more abundant.
Here are some other happiness hacks:
Happiness Hack 1 – The Smile Effect
My favourite hack to instantly increase my feeling of happiness is smiling. You may think, no shit, if you’re smiling you’re happy right?
Say you’re sitting in traffic, not where you want to be and feeling bummed. Just start smiling. A real genuine smile. Keep holding it (you may look funny to all the non-happy drivers beside you) and before you know it, you’ll start to feeling happier. Then, you’ll start to think happier thoughts out of nowhere. Think I’m crazy, DO IT RIGHT NOW.
There is a bit of science behind this. As you pull a genuine smile, the muscles used in the face are familiar to you smiling when your happy. The brain senses your face is in smile mode which helps the body to produce those feel-good hormones.
So people that naturally smile are more happier and more optimistic .
Happiness Hack 2 – Less News, More Happiness
Many of us are slaves to the news on TV, newspapers, radio and news feeds on the webs. I have reduced and ignored these for the past 3 years and decided to consume only content which fits with improving quality of life, performance or stories that excite me.
After removing all the negative news feeds from my daily practice, I had a major boost of happiness and less anxiety about the terror displayed.
Now I have had bit of back lash from friends saying that I’m not keeping up to date with the latest headlines and issues. But quite frankly, I don’t mind if my happiness baseline has risen. I also still get to consume great articles, podcasts and movies of my choice.
Happiness Hack 3 – Sweat every day
By this I mean exercise regularly and work your body until you break. Doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and workout hours away. Try some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). You’ll be sweating in minutes and getting a great work out.
There are countless studies showing the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health. If you have these moving in the right direction, happiness is far easier to achieve.
Even a simple 30 minute walk a day can have brilliant effects on your happiness, but breaking a sweat will boost it to the sky.
Happiness Hack 4 – Always have a quest
Always having something to look forward to or a plan to do things that you want to do or achieve is an important way to stay happy. This reduces falling into the slum of boredom and gives great substance to visualization which is another great way to invigorate happiness.
Having a quest really is an energizer bunny for my life. It helps me to perform much more and do it with a smile on my face.
“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived”
What do you do to increase your happiness?
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