10 Practical Ways to be Happier

There is no magic formula for happiness and contentment in life, but it's just all about little things that sum up to give you that general feeling of contentedness. In that spirit, here are 10 practical ways that you can be happier.

1. Strike off the reasons to be unhappy:

Every time you are feeling bad, or if you are just feeling that general sense of restlessness and discontent, the first thing you should do is ask yourself the question: why do I feel unhappy? In many situations, you will find that you actually have no proper reason to be unhappy, and that general feeling of discontent actually sprang from something small and insignificant. For example, someone may have made a snide comment about you, or you may have spilled your coffee. Although these are essentially unimportant things, you might have allowed them to alter your mood completely.

So the next time you find yourself feeling bad, just make a mental list of every reason to be unhappy, and proceed to strike off every reason that is insignificant (most are). If there is actually a real problem, then the next thing you should do is sketch out a practical plan on what you can do to solve that problem, and then execute that plan. Merely feeling bad about that problem gets you nowhere, while executing a practical plan will actually help you solve that problem and move forward.

2. Count the reasons to be happy:

We take so much for granted. The majority of us have a multitude of reasons to be happy, but our human tendency is to focus on the problems instead. Deliberately focus on the positive things in your life and make a deliberate decision to ignore the negative, unimportant things. Review the reasons to be happy, and you will automatically become a lot happier.

3. Exercise:

OK, exercise is important - really important. The fact is that we are living in this world in a vehicle - our human body. And keeping this vehicle in optimum working conditions is essential to everything in your life. Research has consistently shown that even a little bit of exercise produces a lot of endorphins, which is the happiness hormone. And people who consistently exercise have been found to be a lot happier and a lot more successful in life.

If you already know all this, but you are still struggling to get into the exercise habit, then I advise you to start small. Promising yourself that you will workout for half an hour every day when you're currently a sedentary person, is pretty much a recipe for failure. Your brain shuts off when it faces such a daunting prospect, and you inevitably end up not exercising. So set a smaller goal: do five pushups in the morning. Keep this up for ten days, and then set a slightly larger goal: ten pushups. Keep scaling up, until one day you will have a habit of doing a one hour workouts every day.

But the idea is to never actually think about those big goals. Always keep the goal small in your head. Setting a larger goal right off the bat will scare your subconscious mind (and by extension, you) off.

4. Get some sleep:

Seriously, do get some sleep. Sleep deprivation is bad - it makes you unhappier, decreases your productivity and puts you in a mental fog. Have you ever met a happy insomniac? To get more sleep, make some practical, good decisions. Stop staring at bright screens after 9pm. Stop watching your favorite TV show late in the night (just record it and watch it at a different time the next day). Replace your screen-staring habits with something different: play a board game with your family, read a good book or lean back and listen to some music. Get to sleep by 11, and resolve to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep. And if you're willing to experiment, get a blue light to help you sleep better.

And if your schedule allows, try to sneak in some power naps in the middle of the day. Research has shown that power naps can signicantly improve energy and mood and can eliminate that dreaded afternoon sluggishness.

5. Take a break:

We are so pinned down to our daily routines, that sometimes we just forget that taking a good break may be essential to recovery and rejuvenation. And when I say take a break, I certainly do not mean lying on your couch and watching an hour of TV, or browsing through YouTube watching cat videos. While you may consider that relaxation, it simply adds more stress to your system.

So take a real break instead. Get a cup of nice tea or coffee. Lie back and read a good book. Spend time with your family. Break away from your routine once in a while and do something that's really entertaining or totally crazy. Take that vacation that you have been meaning to take. Or hell, just start driving with no plan at all. The possibilities are endless: there are so many things to do, so many experiences to have, so many places to visit, all away from that flickering computer screen.

6. Step out of your comfort zone:

Most of us spend the majority of our lives zoned into the routines that we find most comfortable. We stick ourselves to the same home, the same workspace, the same routine and the same people, just so that you can have that sense of familiarity, that sense of safety that comes from being totally safe in your comfort zone.

Well, guess what, as long as you stay in that comfort zone, you are pretty much on autopilot. You are like a robot pre-programmed with specific routines, with not much life or personality. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way that you can really start living your life.

So, what's your comfort zone? It's your daily routine, perhaps that job you have been stuck in for far too long. It may be that fear that prevents you from standing up for yourself. It could be that stage fright that prevents you from going up on the stage, just because you feel a lot more comfortable sitting in the audience. It could be that girl that you didn't persevere on, just because it felt more comfortable to not to make the approach, and develop and work on the relationship.

If you find that you have been stuck in your comfort zone for too long, then it's time to make some decisions, step out of your shell, and do something new (and important).

7. Declutter:

Okay, contrary to what I said above, routines are not entirely bad. In fact, good routines are good. And the best way to power through your good routines, your good habits is to keep a clean, decluttered space while doing those routines. Research has consistently shown that cleaner surroundings and a cleaner workspace means that you feel more positive and motivated. It makes sense, really, if you think about it. Just try decluttering your immediate space for five minutes, and observe how much better you feel.

8. Review your media consumption:

Today's incessant news and media is one of the top sources of general anxiety and unhappiness. Nowadays, bad news is the most popular kind of news, just because it attracts a lot more viewers. If you look at any of the newspapers today, you will find that it probably has a lot more bad news articles than good ones.

And consuming such bad news on a consistent basis can lead to a general sense of anxiety and negativity. You start to perceive everything as bad, when such is not the case. So if you have a habit of watching news or reading newspapers everyday, you might want to ditch that habit. Most of the news today is crap anyway. If you are worrying that you might end up missing important events if you don't consume the news, remember that you will eventually end up hearing about the most important news from your friends and contacts. They are like your own personalized news filter.

9. Be mindful:

What's being mindful? It's about breaking away from auto-pilot, and bringing your mind to the here and now. Being mindful is important for a lot of reasons. It calms you down. It helps you relax. It lets you appreciate all the good things that you have been taking for granted. A more practical benefit is that being mindful distances you from your distractions, and refocuses your mind on what is really important.

10. Give priority to close relationships:

Our close relationships are the most valuable things in the world, and they are also the things that we tend to take most for granted. Sometimes, you just have to stop, and appreciate the value of the people in your life. Merely stopping to consider how great the people around you are is indispensable to feeling better, happier and making those around you happy. So show them your love and appreciation, and never, ever take them for granted. It's surely gonna make you that much happier.

Society | Self-Help

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