Almost everyone would admit that they could be happier in their lives, however, if we keep doing what we’ve always done we’ll keep feeling how we’ve always felt. Find out how to live a good life, a better life, with only small changes that you can begin immediately.
It’s time to adopt some new healthy habits in order to reach for the joy we’ve always strived for and grab that happiness with both hands.
Start saying yes
It’s very easy for us to get stuck in a routine and we become blinkered to new experiences. By practicing saying yes, we open ourselves up to getting out of ruts, and inviting new experiences into our lives.
It’s also a very positive way to speak to ourselves. Instead of saying “No, I couldn’t do that/go there/speak to them,” tell yourself “Yes, Yes I can.”
Spend more money on experiences than material things
When you purchase something you desire you get a momentary thrill which you feel perhaps for a day or two before you set your sights on something else that you desire. These material desires do not bring you intrinsic happiness, but merely a momentary satisfaction.
Spending your money on experiences not only broadens your reality but it builds memories that carry a feeling with them. Experiences also give you stories to share with people. Manolos, not so much.
Stop being judgemental
It is very easy to sit back and cast aspersions on others but without having lived in their skin we can never understand the intricacies of another’s life.
“We can never truly know someone’s full story,” says psychologist, Dr. Sasha Lynn.
“What might look odd to you on the outside may make perfect sense to someone else on the inside. Conversely, what we think is ok for us might look completely odd to someone else. Holding preconceived notions does nothing for any of us. It doesn’t make you feel good, and it doesn’t help others.”
Stop doing all of the time and start being
We are always so busy. We fill every minute of every day with doing all of the things. We cram more on our To Do lists and at the end of each day, we are emotionally and physically spent.
What if instead, we looked at being. How do we want to be? Would we like to be more relaxed, less anxious, less exhausted? Trying doing the things required to allow you to be this way.
The art of quiet and slow is not easy in this world’s frenetic pace, but practicing meditation, reading or simply daydreaming is a great way to restore your balance on life’s crazy see-saw.
Begin something new
It’s easy to become stagnant and set in our ways but a new project or activity stimulates our brain activity and senses.
“Starting something new brings with it a range of benefits. Although it can seem scary at first, trying new things can improve our mood, challenge us, keep us moving forward and bring a great sense of enjoyment to our lives. And if it doesn’t work out? Then it’s not a waste. It’s given us tools to learn and build from, and we know we’ve given it a go,” says Dr Lynn.
We often look at the things we don’t have a life but a simple shift in perspective can have a huge impact on our attitude.
“Gratitude is so very vital to so many things in our lives,” tells Dr Lynn. “It gets us into the habit of reframing- changing our cognitive patterns, which is just a fancy way of saying it can help change our thinking process. Often by focusing on what is going well, it helps us to build resilience, balance, compassion, and emotion regulation.”
Exercise (but don’t beat yourself up when you can’t)
Research shows that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help with a variety of problems ranging from weight gain and heart problems to mild depression and anxiety. If you have weight loss or specific health goals you may need more but as far as general health goes 30 minutes is a cracking start.
Making exercise a priority and scheduling it into our lives will only improve your life, but conversely, understanding that you will not always have time and being chilled about that is equally important.
If you feel your life is too busy, make an effort to fit in 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week and anything else you get is a bonus.
Let go of negative thoughts about yourself
An important step towards living a better life is kicking negative self-talk to the curb. We would never dream of speaking to a friend the way we speak to ourselves, so make a vow to treat yourself as a friend and be kind and gentle.
“When we think about ourselves in a negative light, it holds us back from life. We don’t push ourselves to try new things, we withdraw from others, we remain stagnant. It also keeps us internalising and self-consumed, which is never healthy. If it doesn’t do anything for you, and doesn’t change your situation, why continue with it?” says Dr. Lynn.
A 2016 study suggests that giving social support to others has better effects on the brain than receiving help from others. When we help others, or even donate to charity, the mesolimbic system is triggered. This is the portion of the brain that triggers the reward feelings and releases feel food chemicals. This is something psychologists call “helper’s high.”
Helping others builds relationships, boosts your self-esteem and makes removes your focus from your own life and shifts it to someone else’s. Helping others is definitely one of the ways to live a better life for yourself.
Smile at one stranger a day
The act of smiling triggers a little happy dance in your brain. Smiling activates neural messages that benefit your health and happiness. Smiling is contagious so when you smile (and activate your feel-good neurotransmitters) and someone returns that smile you are helping them activate their happy hormones.
“It might seem a bit creepy, but ask yourself- when a stranger smiles at you, how does it make you feel?” asks Dr. Lynn.
“Most of the time, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and you smile back, feeling uplifted and happy. Research has actually shown when we do and say nice things for others, it actually benefits us too. So we’re self-serving and helping others simultaneously