Ah that elusive state of ‘Happiness’ what is it? What does it mean to you?
It’s a tricky conversation yes? Happiness is intangible, it’s so very personal to each and every one of us, what makes me happy won’t necessarily make you happy. But there are some everyday habits you can put in place to help you head in the direction of overall peace, satisfaction and ‘happiness’.
I was recently proud to be involved in an ITV programme in the UK called “How to Be Happy”. The program explored the concept of happiness and what it means for different people, the relationship between health and happiness, and how key things like our quality of sleep and social connections contribute to our happiness and wellbeing. I coached Helen and Cat on the program, empowering them to overcome their challenges and feel more in control of their lives. I helped them to make big and small changes to everyday thinking and behaviours and create habits which would support them to sustain the changes which led to improvements in happiness and wellbeing.
So what does it really mean to ‘be happy’ and how can you gain more satisfaction and happiness through what you do each day?
There’s no perfect prescription for happiness, if there were the chemist would be a busy place indeed! But, many of our everyday habits and behaviours; such as physical activity, kindness, human connection, laughter and our own sense of empowerment and achievement can impact on our happiness.
When you are finally ready to take action on our own happiness, it’s usually because you have had enough of feeling miserable! It can feel overwhelming and difficult to focus, but we don’t need to over complicate things. There are always smaller actions which we feel more comfortable getting started with and as with everything, subtle, low effort changes add up overtime. Often, it’s simply about tweaking our everyday routines to gain more benefits, happiness by stealth if you like!?
5 habits to increase your happiness
1 Incorporate movement into your everyday routine
Make movement an everyday habit. It’s not just about going to the gym, it’s about how you live, how you work, how you meet, how you travel and how you spend your social time.
Be it walking, running, dancing, gardening or simple exercises – all kinds of movement play a positive change in mental health and attitude – movement and exercise is an essential part of life one of the most beneficial things which you can do for yourself, in terms of your health and your happiness!
Exercise is hands down the best thing that you can do for your body and your brain (so it’s important to incorporate movement and exercise into your daily routine.
Whether you’re busy, on holidays or under a lot of time pressure, it’s always worth ensuring exercise plays a key part in your day. It will help you to think more clearly and communicate better and become more efficient, plus it’ll help you improve your focus levels and performance too. I see the results in top performers daily.
2 Focus in on your goals
Achievement and accomplishment help us to feel satisfied and relaxed and for many people this is linked to happiness. To raise your own motivation and commitment levels, take small achievable actions, linked to your bigger goal. This allows you to create momentum and will prevent you from getting stuck. Also, find someone to hold you accountable, someone who can help you to review your progress. Write your actions and goals down in a notebook or keep a record on your phone.
In the program, Helen (far left of the picture) gained a great sense of empowerment from creating checklists. She aligned her daily activities with her goals and created a more fulfilling routine and structure. Having daily goals gave her the motivation and energy to commit to better eating and mobility habits, which had a positive impact on her health and her wellbeing- these things she said, led to her feeling, “Amazing!’
3 Talk things through with someone
Everyday life can become overwhelming. We all have to navigate big changes, for instance; having a baby, losing your job or a change in your status can be really stressful. Sometimes we choose these changes, other times they are unexpected or happen suddenly. Big or unexpected changes to your circumstances can affect you in many different ways, losing something or someone, or having sudden added responsibility or pressure can leave us feeling overwhelmed, even if it’s what we wanted
These kinds of changes can affect our identity and our sense purpose. We can find ourselves feeling lost, without focus, this can affect our motivation and our happiness. Talk these things through with someone, opening up and discussing your worries with someone will ease the burden and weight of these changes.
In the ITV Programme I worked on recently “How to be Happy” Cat who I was working with said: “Since becoming a mother, I feel like I have lost my identity.”
A change in role, becoming a parent and all the responsibility, planning and decision making which that brings can be very stressful. At these times of high pressure, it’s really important to prioritise the things which will help you to cope and ask the people around you for help.
4 Make time for yourself
Taking care of yourself and understanding that the little things you do for yourself can make a big difference is really important. Identify activities that make you feel good, exercise, writing, walking or any kind of sport will help you to clear your mind.
Most people are so busy, they don’t have time or space to think and this can leave you feeling stressed or overwhelmed. For many busy parents, even the idea of ‘making time’ can feel like a burden. Remember is hasn’t got to be a long time, most people can find 10 mins a day to read or do a short meditation. Plan time in your dairy and establish a regular routine, be disciplined and make sure to stick to it. Having this time out when you are unavailable to others is important and it’ll impact on your mood and your happiness.
5 Keep a gratitude diary or notebook
This is a technique from positive psychology, which can help you to focus on the positive things- as opposed to dwelling on the negative side of life. Take the time to note 3 things which went well during the day, ask others the same question. Some people use a gratitude diary to help them to reflect on and appreciate what they have already got.
By applying everyday mindfulness techniques, you will notice that you will worry less too!
Through making small tweaks to your every day habits and behaviours you can improve your mindset, improve your confidence and achieve your goals. It’s surprising how these small actions can add up, helping you to feel more in control of your behaviours. These feeling of motivation and empowerment can provide the confidence and energy that you need to tackle bigger challenges that life throws at you!
Want to attend the How to be Happy a Workshop? Click here for further details