( Psychologytoday ) – Simple changes to your daily habits will put you on the fast track to happiness.
Do you find yourself just going through the motions? Has “Different day. Same story” become your mantra? Then right now—not tomorrow or next week—is the time to start changing your story. Fortunately, there are quick, simple and no-cost ways to do just that and effectively bring about lasting happiness:
1. Get seven to nine hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to having a happy, productive day as the alternative can lead to reduced alertness and logic and general health issues such as obesity and a lesser ability to maintain healthy relationships. Try taking a warm shower just before hitting the sheets, getting your phone out of sight, or trying the reverse psychology method. If the insomnia still won’t quit, then try one of these other science-backed methods.
2. Wake up 15 to 30 minutes early. If you’re a serial snoozer, you may scoff at this one. But, assuming you adopt the seven to nine hours per night rule, waking up earlier should be within reach. Imagine a morning that doesn’t involve running around like a crazy person and struggling to get out of the door on time. Waking up 15 to 30 minutes early will allow you the presence of mind to get a positive start to your day. You’ll see a difference in your attitude immediately.
3. Meditate. This one is huge. Meditating for five to ten minutes upon waking is simple and has immediate benefits including heightened inner clarity and focus for the rest of the day. Starting your day with meditation also sets positive intention, allowing you to detach from habitual thought barriers and keep you in the moment. Studies also show that meditation helps prevent stress and anxiety, thus squashing frustrations that limit your ability to tackle your goals. These five techniques will help you discover the meditation style perfect for you.
4. Declutter. Many of us fill our homes and office spaces with things we think we need. The truth is accumulating stuff ultimately harms your mental, emotional, and physiological well-being. The good news is reversing these effects is as simple as clearing the clutter! By spending a few minutes at a time removing the items collecting dust, your mood and happiness will effectively improve. And it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Simply commit to one area at a time—perhaps your desk space or closet. And instead of tossing everything in the trash, donate items to a local cause or put them on Craigslist!
5. Learn something new. While taking on new challenges may sound counterintuitive to creating happiness, learning something new boosts your well-being. Focusing on making progress puts us in a state of flow, which has been shown to foster happiness. Learning also builds your self-confidence and keeps you sharp. It has never been easier to expand your mind with so many free online courses. If getting active is your goal, check out the free classes offered through your local recreation center. Meetup.com is also great place to start!
6. Walk it out. Research shows that 30 minutes of walking a day helps to adjust your nervous system, thus reducing anger and hostility. If devoting 30 minutes every day to walking is difficult, you can take small actions to increase your steps. Park your car in one of the furthest spots from your office or start drinking more water—having a million benefits in and of itself–to increase your trips to the restroom! There is no shortage of ways to get your steps in.article continues after advertisement
7. Disengage from social media. It’s easy to tune out on Instagram and Snapchat during downtime, but research shows that too much social media use can be harmful to your mental health. Instead, use that 15 minutes productively by reading the news, playing a brain-boosting game or listening to a fun, or thought-provoking podcast. You’ll take true joy from the activity and, at the same time, become a better version of yourself without changing a thing.
8. Perform a random act of kindness. There is a range of research linking generosity to better health. fMRI technology, shows that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Giving back is truly a win-win. The recipient benefits, and you feel better knowing you’ve positively impacted someone’s life. Consider donating to a cause you’re passionate about, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or giving up your seat. The best part? Kindness is contagious.
9. Surround yourself with happy people. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously asserted that you are the average of the top five percent of the people with whom you spend the most time. So, find the most positive, engaging people with whom to interact. This easy switch will motivate your level of happiness, sense of achievement and could even open new doors in your professional or personal life.
10. Don’t gossip. Partaking in gossip may feel like a positive and perhaps necessary release, but it only causes stress and unhappiness. Plus, when was the last time gossip helped anything? Next time you have the urge to complain about a friend or co-worker, pause for ten seconds, and shift that negative dialogue to one of positivity. Search instead for something genuinely nice to say about the person. If you simply cannot, say something nice about a different colleague, or discuss the weather—if it’s pleasant. Just steer the focus away from the negative!article continues after advertisement
11. Spend time with a loved one. While catching up with family and friends via phone or e-mail is always encouraged, studies show that physical interaction is far more beneficial to your overall health and happiness. Think about how good you feel after grabbing lunch with an old friend, having a home-cooked meal with your partner, or hiking with your kids. There is nothing quite like it. So, aim to schedule face time (not FaceTime) with a loved one at least three times a week. For those new to an area or wanting to expand their network, you can find dozens of groups online, from book clubs and sports teams to foodies. You’ll instantly and easily connect with people who share your interests and hobbies!
12. Journal. Though this tip can appear unrealistic for many, it doesn’t have to be a big production. Simply commit to writing just 50-words at least three times a week about anything. You’ll be surprised how far this small goal will take you. From stretching your IQ and creating mindfulness to boosting your self-confidence, forming this simple daily habit effectuates a myriad of mental and emotional benefits.
13. Practice self-care. When you take care of yourself, you experience a number of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, increased positive thinking, and boosted immunity. Take time out every day to do something that will bring you joy, such as exercising, cooking a great meal, or reading. You’ll be amazed at how simple acts of self-care improve your mind, body, and soul.article continues after advertisement
As you can see, there are so many ways to shake up your day, and get out of boring routines. Now, like anything else, success is in acting. So pick one, and let the fun begin!