Tuesday, July 18, 2017

8 Ways to be Happier

Being happier is a goal most of us are striving for. I think this is great thing to strive for, no matter how elusive it may be. It pushes us to become better versions of ourselves and evaluate what we're doing and why.

When I think of living a happy life, I don't think it means being happy 100% of the time, or even 90%. I think living a happy life means that you choose a positive outlook and attitude, you incorporate activities and routines into your life that make you enjoy, and in the end the happy moments outweigh the bad ones. Today I'm sharing a few ways you can add more happy moments to your life.

8 Ways to be Happier

Make a Throwback Playlist

I made a throwback playlist recently and nothing makes me happier than turning it on and singing along to all my old favorite songs! Making this playlist has been fun as I go through all the songs I used to listen to 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago (How am I old enough to say that?!).  It's such a great feeling when you hear a song that used to - and continues to - make you happy. If you want some help starting your own throwback playlist, here's mine.

Find a Way to Enjoy Your Commute

Whether your commute is 15 minutes or an hour, the time you spend getting to work can be dreaded time - but it doesn't have to be! After having an hour long commute the past few months, I've found some ways to make use of this time and I switch it up depending on my mood or just what I'm interested in that day. I've used this time to listen to audiobook, catch up on the news, listen to a podcast, listen to my favorite music to get ready for a new day (or destress after a bad one), and I know there are even more ways you could use this time! Try out a few of these ideas and find a way to enjoy your commute. I promise it'll make that time much happier for you!

Do Something

It can be really easy to get into the routine of coming home from work, work out, shower, eat, watch TV, go to bed and using the weekends to catch up on house work, life admin, and Netflix - or at least it is for me. This is what's easy, not what's best. Just writing that felt like a slow death.

Push yourself to do something. During the week take 30 minutes to do at least one thing that makes you happy whether that be reading a book, blogging, baking, or whatever else makes you happy. On the weekend try to get out and do something like try a new restaurant, visit the library, or go on a day trip - something a bit bigger. You don't have to do it every weekend. Even just doing something like that one weekend a month will make a difference.

Be More Intentional

For me, being more intentional has the most impact on living a happier life and if you look closely is really the force behind a lot of the other tips I'm giving in this post. Being more intentional is about consciously thinking about what you're doing and why, rather than just being pulled around by life. What does that mean? It's really easy to just go along in life doing what's easiest, what you've always done, or what the people around you are doing. Living this way though doesn't tend to make you happy or fulfilled. Being intentional is about looking at what you do each day, asking why, and considering if maybe there's a better way of using your time and energy.

One example already mentioned in this post would be using your commute to listen to an audiobook instead of just listening to the radio and getting annoyed by traffic. By listening to the audiobook during your commute, you're being intentional about how you're spending your time and using that often wasted time period to enrich your life.

How do you start living more intentionally? Over the next week ask yourself why you're doing the things you do, see if that reason makes sense and is helping you lead a happier life (or meet whatever other goals you may have). If it's not, find a way to better use your time, energy, and money. For a more detailed introduction to intentional living, check out this post from Jennifer's blog.

Accept Feelings

Many times with posts like this, we feel like maybe there's something wrong with us if we aren't happy and we should just pretend to be happy so we can fit in. This is absolutely not the truth! While I would consider myself a generally happy person and do my best to live a happy life, I suffer from depression and times in life that are highly stressful for me (just read more of this blog if you want some proof).

A very good piece of advice I've heard over the years is that you shouldn't fight your feelings or try to force them to go away. If you're sad, accept that you're feeling sad in that moment and allow yourself to be sad for a bit. Don't hold on to the feeling longer than it lasts or try to fight it and be upset with yourself for being sad. Feelings (including happiness) are temporary. Allow them to come and go. You may be sad for a day, a week, or maybe even longer. That's okay. Feel that sadness, and then move on.*

Enjoy the Sunshine

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Go for a walk, read a book outside, play a game of basketball with a friend, visit the park - whatever you like to do! Sunshine is proven to boost your brain's production of serotonin, the chemical that makes you happy. You'll get to connect a bit with nature as well, which always makes me feel more whole and at peace. This is a lot easier to do when it's nice outside, but even in winter you can get in some more sunshine by opening the blinds and going for a short walk.

Invest in People, Not Things

We've all been out with friends and experienced that moment when suddenly you look up and realize all of you are on your phones, not talking or interacting at all with each other. What?! Sometimes its like we'd rather be with our phones, laptops, or TV than with real people. These things don't really make us happy - relationships do. It's so important to invest in the people around you. I'm not necessarily the best at this (introvert problems), but I try my best. I use my weekends to see my family, me and my best friend talk on the phone most days, and I try to text friends who live far away. It's important to do these things and be present with the people you love rather than sit there with your phone in front of your face the whole time (btw, I'm totally guilty of this).

Practice Self-Care

I'm a big believer in self-care. Practicing self-care regularly helps me feel more creative, relaxed, and happy. It's made a big impact in my life as far as helping me control my stress and my mood. Self-care doesn't have to be anything big or expensive. It can be disconnecting from your electronics for 20 minutes each day, taking little breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around, or creating a morning routine that works for you.

What are your tips for cultivating more happiness? Let me know in the comments!

*I am talking about sadness. I am not talking about depression or other mental health issues. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other debilitating mental illness(es), seek help. Mental illnesses such as these are NOT something you can just move on from, nor should you be expected to. Talk with someone you trust about it and see a doctor or therapist.