Wouldn’t we all like to know the secret to living a blissfully happy life? The truth is that there’s no one answer to that question. We all find happiness in difference places and in different ways; and because life is not without its struggles and sorrows, it’s impossible to feel happy all the time.
But according to, psychologist and happiness researcher, Shawn Achor, it’s possible to at least make ourselves feel happier by doing a few simple things every day.1 Achor claims that doing each of these five easy activities for 21 days in a row can actually rewire your brain, making you able to adapt to the world around you in a different, more positive way.
Try the challenge for yourself! Set aside some time every single day for the next 21 days and see if doing each of these activities on a daily basis helps you see the world with slightly more rose-colored glasses than usual!
1. Think of three things you’re grateful for. Doing this every day will, according to Achor, help train your brain to scan for the positive first, rather than looking for the negative. It’s a subtle shift, but imagine the joy of automatically first seeing what’s “right” around you instead of immediately seeing what’s wrong.
2. Write down one good experience each day. Even if it was something small, like someone holding the door open for you when your arms were full of bags, write it down. Doing so allows your brain to “relive” that pleasant moment—and for you to focus on how good it made you feel all over again.
3. Exercise. It’s been well documented that exercise can lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. But research also shows that being active can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reduce your risk of stress, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.2
4. Meditate. Meditation isn’t about “clearing your mind;” it’s about practicing how to live in the moment and appreciating what’s around you right now. Meditating can help train your brain to calm down a little bit and to focus on the task at hand rather than a thousand other swirling thoughts fighting for your attention.
5. Do a random act of kindness. Beautiful changes happen when people look for ways to be kind and to make a difference in the lives of others. In fact, research has shown that doing good for others makes you feel good too, so be on the lookout for small, simple ways to be kind.
Another way to infuse your life with more happiness is simply to make time for it. We live busy lives, and sometimes work, chores, and doing things for others somehow ends up eating up almost all of our waking hours. It can be easy to neglect our own needs.
Write down a list of all the things that bring you joy, and try to find a way to incorporate them into your life as often as possible. If you actually have to open up your calendar and schedule in an hour to work on your favourite hobby, or 15 minutes to sip a cup of tea and read a book, or even five minutes of bird watching in your backyard, do it. When you make it a priority by marking it in your calendar, it’ll be easier to see it as an important part of your day.
If this means delegating tasks to someone else in your household, then so be it. You must be allowed time to relax, decompress, and seek out your brand of happiness every single day. If you don’t have that time available to you right now, something has to change.
The Dalai Lama has said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” So give it a try: set aside 21 days and see if you can make yourself just a little bit happier.
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