Does the idea of being happy seem difficult to you?
Life seems to be increasingly hard these days, whether you’re the boss or not. Maybe you’re simply having a hard time, or maybe you’re a dopamine junkie looking to find a new summit of happiness. Whatever your reason, we all need a “happy brain boost” from time to time.
Even though it’s not always easy, living a happy life doesn’t have to be an out of reach goal or a temporary state of mind. Here are seven supreme methods you can use to boost your mood and elevate your happiness while crafting a happier life.
1. Practice Gratitude
More and more research is released every day on a myriad of topics. One of which is the effect of gratitude on our mental state.
Mental health professionals have had to confront this burning question: How can they help clients derive the greatest possible benefit from treatment in the shortest amount of time?
Through vigorous studies and modern technology, science has determined that gratitude is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety and depression.
Have you ever noticed that the people who seem to be the happiest always say thank you and count their blessings?
While researching the effects of gratitude on our conscious and subconscious minds, the folks over at Berkeley discovered something incredible:
Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions and holds lasting effects on the brain.
By shifting our thoughts away from resentment and envy we can begin to process and organize the negative emotions attached to those thoughts. When you express how grateful you are, either to someone or to yourself, you change the physiology of your brain.
By pracicing gratitude, you are literally training your brain to be more likely to choose happiness again in a similar future scenario.
2. Use Your Phone Less
A study of more than 300 college students found heavier technology use was tied to greater risk for anxiety and depression, particularly among those using the devices as a “security blanket” — to avoid dealing with unpleasant experiences or feelings.WebMD
Have you ever felt enough discomfort to cause you to reach for your phone?
Have you ever reached for your phone and it wasn’t there?
If you often find yourself reaching for a device to escape certain situations, you may be harming yourself more than you know.
Turning to [a] device whenever an uncomfortable situation or feeling arises can become an escapist pattern of behavior, and may make people more vulnerable to stressors due to insufficient emotional ‘exercise.’
Next time your friends yell at you to get off your phone, head their advice. If you do, you may just be helping yourself find true happiness.
3. Meet New People (Even If It’s Hard)
Face it — you’re comfortable in your current circle.
Whether your circle consists of nobody or it’s a detailed list of everyone within fifty miles of you, you’re probably comfortable with it as is.
Meeting new people is important though. It plays a key role in producing new solutions to any problem.
By meeting and talking with new people you create an opportunity to solve your problems while solving other people’s problems.
Oh, and worry not introverts — you don’t have to become an extroverted conversation machine to benefit from this.
Meeting new people can be as simple as asking a cashier how their day is going or inquiring with wait staff about their most difficult customers.
The important part is finding a stranger and getting them to talk about themselves. Ask them questions, show interest, and listen. Most importantly, try to help them solve their problems.
If you can help them solve their issue, meanwhile finding a new perspective on any current problems you’re facing, you effectively solve your problem.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved and your brain falls under rapid fire with dopamine.
4. Laugh More
Laughing hosts a list of benefits for our body, well past just producing “feel-good” chemicals.
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
When you laugh, it isn’t just an ode to great times. There are actually physical changes happening inside your body when you laugh.
Potential short-term effects of laughing include:
- Stimulating blood flow to multiple organs
- Activating and relieving our stress response
- Soothing current muscular tension
There are also long-term benefits to laughter which could seriously revitalize you and benefit your life. Some of the long-term effects of laughter are:
- An improved immune system
- Increased resistance to and relief from pain
- Increased connection to the people around you
- Lessened feelings of depression and/or anxiety
Try it for yourself. Put a smile on your face, forced or not, and laugh as hard as you can. Whether you sound like a goofy evil villain or a perfect laugh track, let it out without shame.
Do your muscles feel more at peace? Is your brain a little less foggy? That’s the magic of laughter, hard at work to make you feel better.
5. Practice Creativity, Even If You Hate It
If you’re struggling to feel happy, try writing a song, poem, or a story. Even one page will help you feel like you’ve achieved some level of creativity.
Painting, learning to play an instrument, writing stories, singing and dancing are also fantastic creative outlets which can boost your mood.
In a recent study, researchers provided almost forty people with art supplies such as markers and paper, and told them to create anything they wanted over a period of 45 minutes. The scientists discovered that no matter the artistic experience of the participants, about 75 percent experienced a decrease in their levels of cortisol, a hormone that the body secretes to respond to stress.
Creative stimulation is less about what you actually produce and more about the process of getting there. It distracts us from the absurdity of our minds and focuses us away from our anxiety and depression.
By focusing intensely on a creative task, you can achieve the state of “flow,” […] which is typically defined as the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
When we dissolve into the process of creating something, we essentially lose ourselves with the process. We no longer attach to the anxious feelings of “how will I pay my bills” or “am I good enough?”
Of course, not all of us are jazz musicians or songwriters. But, we should still engage in a creative life — because we might live longer.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of being able to live a longer, healthier life certainly makes me happy. As if finding your “flow” state isn’t enough, now you can happily create into the extra years of life you’ve given to yourself.
6. Spend Less Money On “Things”
While everyone wants to know how to save more money, some of us live under the illusion that having money in our savings account is merely a pipe dream.
If you’re a millennial, you especially need to read this. Whether your money goes to food or objects, retail therapy isn’t as effective as you’d think.
The problem is, happiness over material items fades — fast.
We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.Dr. Gilovich
Instead of pouring our money into items we deem “necessary”, we should instead live minimally in an effort to afford experiences.
Think about it: material trinkets may help you shine externally, but experiences define your internal purpose and passion.
Through identifying experiences that have shaped you and your dreams, you better realize the “ultimate” version of yourself. In understanding yourself better, you can more clearly set goals.
Experiences introduce you to new perspectives, life lessons and the importance of gratitude. Take traveling, for example. If you live in New York City and travel to West Virginia, you may realize the pros and cons of living in the Big Apple. Even though there’s culture, public transportation and plenty to do, that weekend trip south made you appreciate nature, the quiet and the beauty of clear, starry nights.
7. Enjoy The Benefits of Nature
“Across the way, hundreds of birds are singing along to their own tune. Each one whistles a pretty little note among the symphony of the forest. Behind you an acorn drops, crunching leaves and scattering the squirrels. Sunlight glimmers through the forest canopy, shimmering on a nearby pool of water. Insects hum and buzz as they whiz by you towards flowers and tree bark. There is excitement around every corner of your surroundings, and yet, life is still.”
As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast alike, I saved the best for last. If you’re truly struggling beyond your own wisdom and can’t seem to escape the daunting task of life, enjoying some time in nature is hands down the most effective “medicine”.
In today’s age of high technology, research shows that our hunger for the natural world still endures. In fact, our connections with nature could just be the best medicine for people of all ages—improving our health, happiness, and well-being. Those same connections could also heal the planet.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201403/does-nature-make-us-happy
Intense anxiety can cause you to hyper-focus on more stimuli than should be humanly possible. Luckily, losing yourself in a forest is one of the best places to combat that hyper-attentive focus.
In fact, the extensive list of stimuli in nature is the very reason it benefits our minds.
The results of their research suggest that “nature relatedness has a distinct happiness benefit” beyond the more generalized benefit of feeling connected to family, friends, and home. Our connection to nature also correlated with most measures of human well-being, indicating it may play an extremely important role in maintaining positive mental health.
Not only does connecting with nature improve our ability to connect with friends, family, and colleagues. It improves every facet of our life, from preparedness to mental state. It’s no wonder we find such solace in nature considering the fact that humans evolved in natural settings.
Happiness Isn’t A State Of Being, It’s The Acceptance Of Being
It’s no secret that even the most successful men and women struggle with different aspects of life. We all struggle through it at some point. What sets the happy apart from the miserable is their ability to breathe, let go, and accept the circumstances as they are.
If you’re struggling through life and can’t find relief no matter what you’ve tried, please consider finding professional help. SAMSHA offers wonderful resources, free of charge, for those who are struggling.
Have a question you want answered or an opinion you’d like covered? Ask below in the comments and you just might get a response!
Don’t forget to follow my blog for instant updates on new content, free e-books, and more.