We all want one fundamental thing in life and that’s to be happy. But true happiness seems to be an elusive thing in today’s hectic, stress-filled world. We may have all the gadgets we could possibly want and a constant stream of information at our fingertips, yet stress, anxiety and depression are all on the increase. Indeed, according to research published earlier this year, only a third of Americans surveyed said they are truly happy. Sadly, it seems that we have lost our ability to enjoy life.
For this blog post, let’s take a look at some suggestions for how you can regain happiness and bring a more positive outlook to your life.
1 Be responsible for your own happiness
How many times have you blamed someone else for the fact that you are so unhappy? Perhaps you’ve blamed your boss for criticising you or your partner for not being supportive enough. However, an important step in the quest for happiness is realising that no one else is responsible for your own happiness apart from you. And when we realise this fact, it’s actually quite a liberating and empowering thing.
Taking responsibility for your own needs in life means that you can make a plan to build better relationships, engage more with others and focus on your strengths. Once you realise that your happiness is your own responsibility, you can begin to take more control of your life.
2 Do the things you love
Are you constantly complaining about your job and how unhappy it makes you feel? You might not be able to change your job so easily but you can ensure that the things you do outside of it make you happy. Think about what things make you feel good and make sure you do them on a regular basis. If you love losing yourself in a good book, join a book club and share the experience with others.
If you enjoy cooking, buy some cookery books and learn some new dishes. Join a sports club if exercise makes you feel great. Whatever your passion is – do it. And if you can do it with other likeminded people, all the better. Which brings me to my next point…
3 Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
It’s hard to feel happy if the people you engage with on a regular basis have a negative or critical outlook on life. These are known as ‘energy vampires’ and there’s a whole blog post on the Daily Mind about this topic here. Sometimes you just can’t avoid these types of people, and it might be necessary to develop strategies for dealing with them and not letting their negativity affect you.
But, wherever possible, try to surround yourself with people who have a positive, upbeat approach to life, as positivity is infectious. Make the effort to seek out these people and spend more time with them. They’ll help to bring out the best in you.
4 Identify your strengths and build on them
We all have our strengths and positive traits, and identifying them and working with them is key to finding happiness. All too often we focus on our weaknesses or failings and we beat ourselves up about them.
For example, you might struggle with public speaking, and constantly berate yourself for not being able to do this. But on the other hand, why not switch your attention to your great organisational skills or your compassion for others? If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, ask a close friend or family member to list some – that in itself will give you a boost! Knowing your strengths and working on them can lead to greater self acceptance and, ultimately, happiness.
5 Identify your triggers
Often something happens which triggers unhappy or negative feelings. For example your boss criticises you. You might then respond by thinking that you are bad at your job, which sets in motion a whole process of negative thinking: “I’m not good enough,” etc.
One thing that may help is to identify the things that trigger these negative thought patterns and to stop them before they get out of hand. By being more mindful and paying more attention to our thoughts we can stop negativity from spiralling out of control. This is a great step towards developing a happier outlook in life.
6 Keep active
A sure-fire way of increasing your happiness quotient is to partake in some exercise. According to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who exercise on a regular basis tend to be happier in the long-term, whilst those who do not partake in exercise tend to be unhappier. What better excuse could there be to dig out those running shoes or renew your gym membership?
Exercise is known to increase the production of the brain chemical dopamine, which gives us feelings of happiness and pleasure. It also helps to reduce stress, increases our energy levels and eases depression and anxiety.
7 Eat healing foods – and ditch the junk
A poor diet that’s lacking in the right nutrients is going to make you feel lethargic, run down and generally out of sorts – and that’s not conducive to feeling happy. While eating junk food may give you some comfort and a temporary lift, it will also leave your blood sugar levels unbalanced. So after the initial sugar hit you’ll be left feeling tired and craving more junk food.
Instead, clean up your diet and eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Drink plenty of water and limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol. When your body is well nourished and looked after you will naturally feel happier.