This post is for anyone who is searching for happiness, which is just about everyone that I’ve met. The thing about happiness is that although everyone wants to be happy, not many people know how to BE happy.
I’ll let you in on the life-changing secret to finding happiness — you have to choose it. Yes, happiness is a choice. Every day that you wake up you get to decide what lens you’re going to choose to see the world in on that day.
If it sounds simple that’s because it is. Deep down at our core, our natural state of being is one of love and happiness, but we trick ourselves into believing that happiness does and will always elude us.
Doing these 10 things consistently can get you to a place where you choose happiness every day by default, no matter what is going on around you.
This isn’t to say that you’ll never encounter another difficult, sad, or frustrating situation. What this means is that you’ll know how to find your way back to happiness despite the circumstances in the world around you and your life specifically.
These daily practices will help make happiness your default choice each day. These tips are practical and easy to follow but if trying to take them on all at once is too much for you, implement one at a time and add in more as you feel comfortable doing so.
- Practice Gratitude
Every morning before you get out of bed and every night before you get back into bed, think of something that you’re grateful for.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. The idea is to spend part of each day bringing awareness to things in your life that you so often take for granted (i.e., clean running water, consistent meals, shelter, family, your cat, etc).
Starting the day with gratitude will help you see the good in your life as the day continues. Ending the day practicing gratitude will help you unwind before bed and doze off into dreamland with a grateful heart and a happy mind.
- Have Go-To Affirmations and Mantras on Deck
How we talk to and about ourselves has a significant impact on our lives. We talk to ourselves more than we talk to anyone else in our lives, so we should find ways to be nice if we want to be happy.
A good way to do this is by repeating affirmations to yourself daily. You can even write your affirmations down and read them to yourself every day. If what you speak to yourself becomes your reality, then repeating affirmations that are uplifting and inspiring will get you to believe in the greatness that you are.
Then there are mantras. Mantras are different than affirmations because they are phrases that you can repeat to yourself to help bring your focus back to where it needs to be. Mantras aren’t necessarily the pick-me-up phrases that affirmations are, but they can have a similar effect.
You can have go-to mantras for moments that you need clarity or grounding. For example, one of my go-to mantras is “there is time to take my time” which reminds me to slow down when I’m rushing.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Whether it makes you feel better or worse about yourself, comparison never leads to happiness. It is the thief of joy because it distracts you from enjoying the life that you have and the way you choose to live that life.
The only person in your life that you should ever compare yourself to is yourself. This kind of comparison is constructive, unlike the judgmental comparisons that we put ourselves through when we’re wishing our lives were like someone else’s (or being thankful that our lives aren’t like someone else’s).
The more energy you focus on anyone’s life that isn’t your own, the less energy you have to focus on your own life. You’re the only person who can make a difference in the direction of your life and your progress, so act like it. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. You’ll be happier for it.
- Do Something For Yourself Everyday
Have you ever heard the phrase, “fill your cup first”? It means, take care of yourself before spending your energy taking care of others. Learning to disconnect and set time aside for self-care will help you take better care of others.
It’s kind of like when you’re on a flight that’s about to take off and the flight attendant on the PA says to put on your oxygen mask before helping others in the case of an emergency. That’s the recommendation because you can’t save anyone else if you haven’t saved yourself first. The same applies to life in general.
You don’t have to do anything extravagant or too time-consuming for self-care — something as small as spending 15 minutes listening to a podcast while you cook or taking a short but relaxing bath instead of a quick shower can do the trick. You should be doing whatever it is that floats your boat, you know, so that it doesn’t sink.
- Be Gentle With Yourself
The things you say to and about yourself become the things that you believe about yourself, and the things that you believe about yourself ultimately shape your reality. Most of our self-criticisms stem from our tendency to be judgmental.
We may not realize it, but we judge ourselves because we think that other people are judging us and we think other people are judging us because we are judging them, but we’re just projecting our self-judgment onto them because we are judging ourselves so hard — and just like that we’re right back where we started. It’s a sick cycle that ends the day you decide that you longer want to be judgmental; not towards yourself and not towards others.
Self-compassion leads to compassion towards others. Once you accept and love who you are, it becomes easier to do the same with other people.
- Spend Some Time in Silence Every Day
This may be difficult to achieve if you’re an overwhelmed executive or an entrepreneur, or a student with a double-major, or a teacher with a summer job, or a stay-at-home parent with a kid (or a few), or anyone else for that matter. If it were easy to sit in silence every single day everyone would do it and the world would be a much better place.
In this super busy and hyper-connected society it can be difficult to find time to yourself, let alone time to sit in silence, but once you make it a habit you will see a tremendous difference in the way you experience life. Sometimes you need to give yourself a chance to let your brain process everything that’s coming at you and happening around you.
You’re doing yourself an enormous favor if you carve out at least 5 minutes for silence in the morning and 5 minutes at night. A little break to gather your thoughts and reflect can go a long way.
- Get Moving
Just about any list ever created about achieving happiness, being more productive, living a balanced life, having more energy — and so on — includes exercise. That’s not a coincidence. Moving your body daily can boost your mood, help clear your mind, and reduce stress. It also keeps things flowing the way they should within your body.
Just because you can’t commit to a rigid workout schedule or wake up at 4 A.M. to squeeze in a workout doesn’t mean you should write-off physical activity completely. Find ways to be creative like parking a little farther away from the grocery store entrance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator to lower building levels, dancing around the house, or taking a quick 10-minute walk around the block.
The more you move your body, the better you’ll feel, and the happier you’ll be. This is not an opinion — it’s science.
- Consume Consciously
Another concept you’ll find on any self-help list is eating a balanced diet and while food does affect how you feel, eating is not the only kind of consumption you should be mindful of.
The phrase “you are what you eat” should really be “you are what you consume” because you aren’t only what you feed your body, you are what you feed your brain too. If you’re consuming content that isn’t helping you grow and evolve then you’re consuming anything else.
The more inspiring content you consume, the more likely you are to be inspired. The more inspired you are, the more likely you are to take inspired action. The more inspired action you take, the more you’ll accomplish. The more you accomplish, the happier you’ll be.
This might seem like out of place advice but it’s right where it needs to be. Hydration is the tag-along buddy to exercise and conscious consumption. Doing just those three things alone consistently has the potential to save a life.
Water is essential to all life. Not just some life. Not just human life. All. Life. Drinking enough water is important if you want to feel good.
The consensus around water consumption is that you should drink about half of your body weight in ounces of water. Not soda, or fruit juice, or beer — water. Sure, drinking flavored beverages throughout the day counts towards your fluid intake, but drinking water will give your body exactly what it needs without all the extra junk.
- Keep a Journal
Journaling is a great tool to use daily to keep yourself in check. What you choose to journal about on any given day is up to you. That’s one of the best things about journaling — there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Journaling for just a few minutes a day can help you evoke mindfulness, achieve your goals, manage your emotions, boost your memory, and heal your heart wounds. It’s a great way to process emotions that you’re suppressing or didn’t know existed and it’s a practice that helps you get to know yourself better.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that life is not a sprint and there is no rush to get it all done as quickly as possible. There is time to take your time creating the habits that will improve the quality of your life. Enjoy the ride, take in the experience, and soak it all in so that you can learn as you go. Before you know it, you’ll be a master at finding happiness regardless of any situation or circumstance.