“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
Finding happiness may be a process, but you don’t have to wait to find it; it is something you are capable of experiencing right here and right now! When you’re having a bad day and life is getting you down, achieving happiness may be equivalent to the highest mountain you’ve ever climbed. Luckily, there are several tactics you can employ to change your mood and transform your attitude. How can you hack your way to happiness? Read on for my insight.
6 Strategies to Hack Your Way to Happiness
- Eat Your Vegetables
“Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.” – B.K. S Iyengar
The way your body functions internally can have a large impact on your mental state of being. Eating lots of healthy and nutritious food will not only make you feel healthier and happier, but it will boost your immune system, reduce depression and improve your mood. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are high in folate, which helps produce dopamine (a happiness chemical) in the brain.
- Make a Choice
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
At any given moment, we have a wide range of moods in which we are in control. While you may feel like outside circumstances dictate your mood, you in fact have the power to feel a certain way. Happiness therefore, is a choice. Choose to be happy and choose to have a good day when you wake up each morning, no matter what struggles and challenges the day brings.
How to Choose Happiness
“Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.” – Jacques Prévert
Sometimes it’s difficult to choose happiness when faced with adversity. Here are some helpful strategies.
- Take a Deep Breath: Taking a deep breath of fresh air is a cathartic experience. Close your eyes and allow yourself to melt into the moment. Repeat until your troubles don’t seem as large.
- Hug a Friend (or a Pet!): Hugs release negative emotions and strengthen the connection we feel with those around us. Having multiple hugs a day can make you feel happier and it may be just what you need to turn your frown upside down. Hugging a pet or animal can also elicit these feelings.
- Help Someone Else: Volunteering, doing charity work and offering a helping hand will make you feel like you’re making a difference in the world around you.
- Smile: Trust me, it makes a big difference. Smiling, even when you’re faking it, can increase your feelings of happiness. After all, it takes less effort to smile than to frown.
- Take Up Yoga
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Are you prioritizing exercise? Working up a sweat can help boost your happiness-causing endorphins in addition to increasing your health and wellness. For those who are seeking some lower-impact exercise or a more meditative approach, yoga is a great option. Practicing the ancient sport can lower depression and anxiety and the focus you put on your breathing can help you eliminate fears, worries, problems and frustrations.
- Give Yourself Small Gifts
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama XIV
How wonderful does it feel to receive a small gift, like flowers or chocolates from a friend or lover? You can reproduce this feeling by giving gifts to yourself instead! It may sound silly, but pampering yourself can raise your self-esteem and make you feel like you’re worthy of true happiness. To learn more about the benefits of self-love on your state of wellbeing, read on.
How to Practice Self-Love
“Before you can honestly love yourself you need to be clear about what love feels like to you.” – Exuberant Women Don’t Age – No Time To Waste
Finding your inner strength and turning it into self-love begins with mental power. To achieve this, you must be consistently clear about your desires with others, but most importantly, with yourself. If you feel uncomfortable in any given situation, recognize this is a sign from your mind and listen to it.
When you trust your brain and its ability to make decisions for the good of yourself, you will find that it is your closest friend who can reassure you, comfort you, and give you the strength needed to enter the world like a force of nature. I like to call this inner power, “I Can Do It” power. How can you put self-love into practice? Here are two examples.
“Loving yourself is embracing all that you have been, all that you will be and all that you are now.” – Exuberant Women Don’t Age – No Time To Waste
It’s easy to get caught up in self-loathing when you are constantly viewing the triumphs of others on social media; remember that sites like Facebook distort the truth and serve as a vehicle for self-embellishment. Keep this in mind and stop comparing yourself to others; self-loathing has no place in a loving and successful life.
-Focus on What You Need
“You will never abandon yourself when you love and care for your mind, body and spirit as your dearest friend.” – Exuberant Women Don’t Age – No Time To Waste
Make no apologies for giving yourself what you truly need. It is hard for you to form a solid relationship with your inner self if you ignore wishes, desires and needs. Stop making excuses for doing what makes you happy and learn to appreciate your unique qualities; they are what make you, you!
There are countless ways to love yourself and many reasons to start today! For more information on achieving happiness and independence from within, check out my latest book, Exuberant Women Don’t Age – No Time To Waste.
- Use Gratitude to Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The bonds we have with other people go deeper than just a friendship; having close relationships and frequent social interactions can shape who we are and help us to find our place in the world. You can foster stronger ties with those around you by exercising gratitude. Here are several creative ways to do so:
- Write a Note of Appreciation: Personal notes are underrated; everyone enjoys small words of encouragement and appreciation. Leave a quote or saying on your office’s whiteboard, give a sticky note to a friend or send a postcard to your parents letting them know you care about them.
- Leave a Token of Gratitude: Are you grateful for a co-worker’s assistance on a recent project? Tell them so! Leave a small gift card, some flowers or a nice candle on their desk with a note from you. You’ll make their day and strengthen the relationship between the two of you.
- Send a Special Photo Reminder: These days it’s easy to take, send and share photos through text messaging and social media. Great pictures don’t have an expiration date as social media would lead you to believe; you don’t have to wait for #ThrowbackThursday to share images you love. Take advantage of every day and send your friends picture reminders of great times together.
- Pay it Forward: Have you ever been in the drive through line at your local coffee shop and had your drink paid for by the person in front of you? Do you remember how special it made you feel? Pay it forward and show your appreciation for those around you by offering to pay for a stranger’s drink, allowing someone to check out ahead of you in the grocery line or opening a door for someone else. You never know what a positive impact it may have on their day.
- Start a Conversation: Do you make conversation with cashiers when you make a purchase, or stand in silence as they ring up your items? Jump at every opportunity to make a human connection by asking them about their day or even talking about the weather. Life is better when we go through it together.
If social interactions make you feel anxious or worried, read my blog post here for some practical ideas on overcoming it.
- Keep Lists
“Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.” – Sidonie Gabrielle
If you have trouble remembering what you are grateful for, it can be helpful to keep lists. According to a 2003 study, those who kept short weekly lists of things they were proud of and happy to call their own experienced greater life satisfaction and happiness when compared to those who didn’t focus on gratitude.
Being your true self will help you feel more confident and increase your feelings of happiness, in addition to the tips I outlined above. What strategies have you found that helped to increase your happiness?