5 Proven Ways To Help Improve Happiness
OK, we’ve all heard the song…Don’t worry, be happy… but when we are feeling down, the last thing that we need is someone telling us to cheer up.
Like … ‘Yeah, thanks mate… why didn’t I think of that ?’
Don’t get upset… these people care, which is why they are trying to help…. most people have great intentions, but they don’t have the tools to help…maybe because the nature of being down is different for everyone…and sometimes even different for the same person … at different times.
It would probably be better if they just said:
“Look, I can see you are going through some tough times.
I’m here to help in any way I can… you can lean on me…any time.”
Knowing you have someone to reach out to is always comforting, even if you never end up reaching out to them. I don’t pretend to have the answers … but here are few techniques that have proven to improve happiness in people who have applied them diligently.
1. Be Kind To Yourself
I know that at times we can be our own worst critics… just as there are times when real self evaluation is important. But it is important to recognise how negative self talk impacts on our wellbeing. When we are down… our thoughts generally gravitate towards thoughts that are unkind towards ourselves …and we all know how detrimental that can be to our state of happiness.
It is important to maintain a healthy kindness balance by immediately changing negative internal dialogue to positive internal dialogue. Pay attention to your internal tone and catch yourself at the beginning of unkind thoughts and reframe them as positive thoughts.
I sometimes find it is useful to start a Kindness Journal … where you make note of all your positive thoughts….the physical act of writing them down has a very positive effect on how your brain rewires positive self worth … and serves as a ready reminder when finding positive thoughts are difficult to access.
2. Be Kind to Others
Many of us have perfected sarcasm to an art form… and for most of us there have been times when we found the need to manipulate others to achieve particular outcomes. It is part of human nature … but it is important to recognise that this behaviour can easily become toxic…toxic for relationships … and toxic for our own happiness.
It is important to practice noticing when we being too negative and unkind toward others. Again internal dialogue is an important source for identifying the impetus of toxic behaviour towards others.. and a change of position is required.
It will have a positive impact on relationships … but also improve your relationship with yourself.
3. Be Happy For Others
When we see others being happy, successful … or trying change for the better… be happy for them. In your mind, congratulate them…recognise that they a being proactive…smile with them.
The old adage of ‘if you want to be happier, surround yourself with happy people’…actually does work.. if we share in their happiness.
The latest studies in neuroplasticity (the ability for the brain to rewire itself to adapt to changing needs) have shown that our brains are constantly rewiring themselves…making new neural pathways…and the reorganisation that takes place in the brain is heavily influenced by positive and negative mind-states.
Practice positive internal dialogues when you notice happiness around you.
- When you see someone jogging feel good for them that they are being proactive with their health.
- When you notice someone is changing their diet to Paleo, Gluten Free or Vegan, acknowledge that they trying to change because they want to feel better.
- When someone has had a major success in work, business or personal relationship, smile and enjoy their success.
4. Relax To The Max
Achieving a relaxed state is something you can learn.
Some people breathe to 10… others meditate…others take a walk, do yoga, tai chi, …others practice mindfulness. Learning to relax is quick.. and its easy… but it does take some practice.
Trying to wind down when you are wound up it very hard… so it is not the best time to practice relaxing. It is very important to find a way to de-stress the nervous system that works for you..
Consistency is the key to succeeding. A little time spent de-stressing the nervous system each day…as little as 5 minutes a day.. will build resilience and resistance to stress build up.
As a start I found that linking relaxation practice to your existing routines works really well… as they can trigger to practice relaxation.
- Practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth
- Practice breathing while waiting for the kettle to boil
- Find ‘me time’ by getting out of the lift 2 floors earlier or disembarking the tram one or two stops earlier
Finding productive ‘me time’ is the key to successful relaxing of the nervous system.
Even students who study 30 minutes followed by 30 minutes ‘me time’ have shown higher mental resilience, memory capacity, alertness and retention than those who study much more intensely with shorter breaks.
5. Where’s Good ?
Seeing the good in situations is critically important to being happy. There is good everywhere… from little thing like someone giving up a seat to someone who is expecting … new cures for illnesses… videos of cats playing the piano.
Sometimes it difficult to see the good … when your mind is expecting to see bad things… and there a plenty of negatives to choose from. When your mind is tuned to seeing negative things … there will always be plenty of negatives to take notice of.
We can learn to filter out the negatives … and look for the positives. This will have an enormous impact on your mind-state.
So Where Do I Start ?
Yoda from Star Wars would say,
‘Start somewhere you must’
Start now… today … right now….
Start with this article… Make a decision…It is either a bunch of hogwash … or an insight for you to consider taking some control on how you view things.
Try it out for a while.
Pick one method …pick two … or pick them all. Give it a week… and see if there is any change in your happiness level. You will be able to tell if there is a change.
It won’t happen over night .. but it will happen.