What is happiness? Is it something you’re born with? Are some people just naturally happier than others? Is it something you earn or obtain? Do genetics play a role in your happiness, or is it simply a choice to be happy?
Merriam Webster defines happiness as good fortune or prosperity, but I like the philosophical translation of happiness, which states that happiness is not just an emotion but also a way of life. It comes from the Greek concept of Eudaimonia, which refers to the good life or flourishing.
Here are 11 tricks to increase your happiness
- Make Your Health a Priority
First and foremost, make your health a top priority. This may sound selfish, but it is not. You cannot be of service to others if you’re not taking care of yourself first.Working as a Registered Nurse in the hospital was probably one of the toughest jobs I have ever had. I have more responsibility now as a Nurse Practitioner, but being a Registered Nurse was by far much more physically and psychologically demanding. I would watch many RNs put their patients’ needs before their own. They would skip their lunch breaks and use the restroom maybe once in a 5-hour shift, resulting in burn out.Regardless of what is going on around you, you have to put your health and safety first. If your body does not feel good, how can you possibly focus on the thought of being happy? There are no substitutes for good nutrition and sleep. Take the time to feed yourself healthy foods and make time for restful sleep. Your body will thank you.
- Set Boundaries
It’s okay to say no. In case you missed that sentence, it’s okay to say no. You are not obligated to do what others ask of you. This tip is especially important to remember when it comes to family. Just because someone is related to you, does not mean you’re obligated to do everything they want. It’s okay to take care of your own life before going to the aide of others.If you’re in sales, boundaries might mean not taking a call before 9:00 a.m. and no calls after 8:00 p.m. If you’re a mom with kids, this might mean saying no to baking cookies for the bake sale because you just do not have the time.Whatever the situation is, set boundaries for your wellbeing. It’s okay to put yourself first. Others may try to guilt you, but that’s on them.
- Do Things You Love
The more energy you put into doing the things you love, the happier you will feel. If you don’t know what your passion is, start trying things out.Check out Groupon or Living Social and try out the activities you’ve always been curious about. If you’re single and don’t have kids, why not try skydiving? If you’ve always wanted to try that yoga class, go do it. Whatever it is you’ve been curious about, go try it.Say yes the next time someone invites you to do an activity. Get out there and see what your passion is.Maybe you already know what your passion is, and you just need to set time for it. Focus on doing the things that bring the most joy into your life.
Don’t take life so seriously. None of us gets out alive, so why not fill as much time as you can with laughter? Laughter really does the body good. It instantly puts you in a better mood, and when you’re laughing, you’re more likely to see life in a better light.Don’t have anything to laugh about? Go to a comedy club or watch funny things online. The next time you want to watch a TV show or a movie, substitute the scary one for a comedy. You’ll find yourself enjoying life more when you focus on good, wholesome laughter.
- Have Gratitude
Going to bed with gratitude and waking up with gratitude might be one of the best ways to stay in your happy mood. Being grateful keeps you in the vibrational alignment of receiving more good things in your life.Keep life in perspective, and be grateful for all the things you have. For example, instead of complaining about all the laundry you have to do, be grateful that you’ve been blessed with so many clothes. Instead of being frustrated when you are cleaning the dishes, be grateful that you have food to eat. When that alarm goes off in the morning, focus on being grateful for another opportunity to create the life you want.You can choose to be the victim of your life or to be the creator of it. By choosing to be grateful for everything in your life, you’re choosing to be an active creator of it.
- Remember the Golden Rule
Do unto others what you want them to do unto you. We are all connected. If you accept this to be true, you’ll find it much easier to treat others well. If you want more love from others, give more love. If you want more appreciation or acceptance, offer it to others. Whatever type of energy you send out is going to come back to you. Many people call this karma, or “The Law of Cause and Effect.”Another way to look at this is: “Frequency attracts like” If you’re constantly thinking about how someone wronged you, you’re going to attract similar situations. If your focus is on how nice and caring someone was to you, you’re likely to experience this more frequently.Whatever you feel that you’re lacking, try giving it to someone else. It sounds counterintuitive, but I promise it’s not. Give it a try, and see what happens.
- Think Positively
Your life is made up of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. You literally create your own reality through your intentions. You always have a choice of how you want to view any situation. For example, let’s say you lose your job. You have the choice to see this a terrible event or as an opportunity to find an even better career with higher pay. Find the silver lining and let go of what does not serve you.It’s helpful to create a vision board, or if you don’t want to go through all the hassle of cutting and gluing, just create a vision note board on your phone. Open up a new note, and every time you think of something you like or want, put it into your vision board note. This system creates more focus on the things you desire.Frequency attracts like Focus on only what you want.
- Practice Acceptance
Have acceptance not only for yourself but also for others. The best gift you can give to others is to be your authentic, true self and accept others for exactly who they are. Letting go of your expectations of how others should be is freeing, and accepting yourself for exactly who and how you are is liberating.We are all unique souls living a human experience. Embrace your perceived flaws, and work with what you have. Work on being the best version of yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. We each have our own life lessons to experience.In yoga, they say “stay on your mat,” meaning do not compare yourself to what your neighbor on the other mat is doing. Just stay on your mat, and do what’s good for you.
Meditation allows you to go inside and clean out the cobwebs in your head. There is so much going on in our brains that has zero benefit to our lives. Meditation clears out all the unnecessary junk and allows you to be more connected to your source energy.What is source energy? Source energy is what creates everything. It’s the random idea that pops up in your head out of nowhere that turns out to be the next best thing. People like Steve Jobs used meditation to do just that. Decluttering your brain allows for more free-flowing energy. If you don’t know how to meditate, try a meditation class or download a meditation app onto your phone.Meditation is easier than most imagine. If it’s your first time, try sitting up straight with your eyes closed and take slow, deep breaths in and out. If you find your mind wandering, it’s totally okay and normal. Acknowledge these random thoughts and even give a little chuckle that they just popped into your head. It can be helpful to focus on a mantra such as “breath in, breath out” or “inhale love, exhale peace.”
- Cultivate Relationships
It’s in our nature to be social and feel accepted and loved. Doing so does require some effort, though. Put down your phone and actually be present. Better yet, turn it off or place it on silent. Listen to what your friend or family member is telling you not so you can simply reply, but so you can empathize with them. Be present.When I was a Registered Nurse, I worked in the Intensive Care Unit for a couple years. There’s a diagnosis we give to some patients called “Failure to Thrive.” Basically, this diagnosis means that the patient has lost all will to live. One thing I observed was that the same patients who were given the diagnosis didn’t have any close friends or family members to lean on for psychological support. Those who did have family support, often times had much better outcomes.We are here to connect to each other. Put down the phone and have a real human experience. So much gets lost in text messages, emails, and even phone calls. Emoji’s are not a good substitute for real human emotions. We have the tendency to make up entire non-existent stories in our heads when the communication is not face-to-face. Take the time to grab a coffee, lunch, or dinner with your friends and family.
- Love and Forgive
Holding onto anger and hate is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die. Letting go of hateful feelings is for the benefit of the self.There’s a Hawaiian prayer I absolutely love called Ho’oponopono. You visualize the person you have issues with in your head and repeat the following: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” We are all connected by energy, and you can end the cycle of hate and blame by offering love and forgiveness on your side of the field.Another way of letting go of hate and anger is not to take things so personally. How people treat you is more of a reflection of who they are than it is of you. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they speak to you and others. People who see and want the best for you tend to see and want the best in themselves.Misery loves company. Set boundaries for yourself and have enough respect for yourself not to be involved with habitually negative people. This may mean you need to find new friends.
To keep me on track with my thoughts, I go to reading books. Click here for more a list of my favorite ones.