Happiness happens by choice—not by chance. If you want to increase your sense of personal well-being, there are simple habits you can adopt to help your levels of positivity increase.
Happy habit formation is a hot topic and everyone from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness, are writing about how to be happier. Rubin says, “People often assume that the same approach will work for everyone, that the same habits will work for everyone, and that everyone has the same aptitude and appetite for forming habits, but from my observation, that's not true.” And Anchor points out: “You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body.
Forming a Foundation for Happiness
Before beginning any new happiness practice your need to ensure you are building your happiness on a stable foundation. A foundation for happiness begins with:
- Eating well. Remember that eating means nourishing yourself. Try to be aware of your food choices. Eat healthy foods in a way that feels mindful.
- Doing regular physical activity. Bodies are designed to be active. Pick a type of exercise that brings a smile to your face. Some people love a hike outdoors, others prefer a grueling free-weight session. The first step is just getting up and moving your body. Once you are doing that, you can take time noticing which exercise choices fell invigorating and fun.
- Getting enough sleep. Follow the rhythms of nature. A good sleep cycle follows the sun. Get into a good sleep routine that allows you to awaken feeling rested.
Once the foundation is in place, implementing the following simple practices in a way that feels manageable and fun to you will increase your sense of joy and peace. Starting with one simple habit may be best for you, or you may be the type who prefers to jump fully in with all these methods for maximum impact. They key to successful habit formation is making simple, measureable changes so that you won’t give up before your new habits can be set.
1. Spend Mindful Time Each Day
Whether you meditate each day with the sunrise or take a mindful walk in nature on your lunch, taking time to connect with yourself releases stress and allows you to relax, connect, and unleash creativity.
2. Foster Connection
Happy people feel connected at work, at home, and in their community. Finding people to engage with who share your passions or encourage your growth is a way to increase your sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself. Volunteer. Invite a friend for lunch. Plan a picnic.
3. Look for the Positive
Your neural pathways strengthen with use. As you focus your awareness on noticing positive things, your brain becomes better and better at finding positive things. Much like the old Where’s Waldo? books, the more frequently you find Waldo, the easier he becomes to find.
4. Behave Authentically
Say yes when you want to. Say no when you want to. Start speaking from your true voice or not at all. As you become more comfortable with who you are, expressing who you are becomes easier.
5. Schedule Fun Time
Most children engage in one fun activity after another for much of their day. Fun might be playing at the park, finger painting, or being read to at bedtime. As an adult, you can benefit greatly by inserting little bursts of play into your day. A sing-a-long on the morning commute or a dance party while preparing dinner can release tension. Know yourself and use this knowledge to move toward things that feel playful and leave you smiling.
6. Feel and Express Gratitude
The quickest way to increase happiness is through gratitude. By acknowledging the good things in your life, your community, or the world, you attract more things to your life to be thankful for.
Knowing that happiness is a choice means if you aren’t quite as happy as you want to be, you can change that. Remember to treat yourself with kindness and compassion as you move toward implementing your plan. If you have a day that feels less than happy, where anger or sadness prevail, remember that just the awareness that you want to feel differently is the first step to living your happiest life.
Knowing that happiness is a choice means if you aren’t quite as happy as you want to be, you can make changes now. Join Deepak Chopra for our 7-day yoga & meditation retreat, Seduction of Spirit as you re-discover what makes you happiest in life. Click here to learn more.