Five Things You Can Do to Be Happier Right Now
By: Zawn Villenes
No one wakes up and begins the day by proclaiming a desire to be as miserable as possible. Life has a way of making happiness seem like an elusive gift rather than a personal choice. Rest assured though, unless you’re living in dire straits or suffering from serious mental illness, you can choose to be happy. Start today with these five simple tips, and you may find yourself experiencing more joy in no time at all.
1. Get Active
Exercise is the closest thing to a panacea you’ll ever find. Research has shown that 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week is as effective as an antidepressant. Moreover, you’ll get an immediate endorphin rush that can give you an energy boost and a sense of well-being. Exercise can also reduce your risk of chronic illnesses and reduce muscle pain.
2. Give Back
One of the best ways to gain perspective on your own life is to help someone else. Try signing up for a volunteer project. If that’s too daunting, resolve to do something nice each day. Pay for the drink of the person behind you in line at the coffee shop. Leave a $20 tip. Send a friend a kind email. Happy people make others happy too, and when you’re kind to others, you may find that you feel better about yourself, your life and the world around you.
3. Buy Some Happiness
You can’t buy happiness, and trying to shop your way into well-being is a strategy destined to backfire. But here’s one way a little money can get you closer to happiness: studies suggest that anticipating an exciting experience such as a dance class, weekend vacation or visit to the ballet can boost a person’s mood for weeks. Spend your money on experiences rather than things and the time you spend looking forward to these experiences will make the stress of everyday life just a bit more bearable.
4. Cultivate Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment while consciously aware of your thoughts and it’s connected to everything from a happier life to a reduced risk of cancer. Rather than ignoring negative thoughts, take note of them and challenge them directly with more positive thoughts. Meditation can also help you build mindfulness and a 15-minute daily meditation session has been shown to boost brain power, reduce depression and improve relationships.
5. Limit Media Consumption
It might be easy to sit back and watch television or scour the internet, but this habit isn’t easy on your brain or mental health. Studies have shown, for example, that women who consume more media have lower self-esteem and that television commercials make people of all ages feel worse about their lives. Limit your media consumption. If you simply have to veg out in front of the television, turn off the tube during the commercial breaks.
Most importantly, do things that make you happy! When you’re overwhelmed by stress, it’s easy to go into autopilot, but by consciously thinking about what you want and need, you increase your odds of achieving your dreams and living the life you want.