It’s National Smile Month! When I thought about this, I realised that sometimes it feels like there isn’t a lot of happiness in the world, and certainly not a lot to smile about. With all the pain and struggle and heartbreak we see rolling by on our streams, it’s hard to feel optimistic.
So what can we do to be happier? A lot more than you might think…
We all crave recognition. We crave recognition almost as much as air and water. Truth is, we NEED recognition and praise to carry us all through the difficult times we face. We all want to be seen, we all want to be heard, we all want to be recognised, and eventually we all want to be rewarded. Your generosity will make your day and their’s.
Think of Yourself Less
Don’t think less of yourself as a person, but think OF yourself less, focusing more on betterment of yourself for the sake of those around you, rather than for your own ego. We innately focus on ourselves out of need. How does this impact me? How do I relate to this stimuli? What’s in it for me? Me-me-me-mine-mine-mine-blah-blah-blah. Living in a world of “want”… we focus on ourselves, by ourselves, with ourselves… to take care of ourselves. Maybe it’s time to do THAT… a little bit less.
Cultivate Close Relationships
Relationships are perhaps the most important thing (without exaggeration) when it comes to overall life satisfaction, at least for most people.
Smiling can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:
A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts–such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital–improve their mood and withdraw less.
The list of meditation benefits seems endless, but perhaps one of the more positive perks is what the practice can do for your mood. Research shows that allowing yourself a few moments of zen-like escape each day may make you happier.
Send a thank you note
Writing thank-you notes (or just a nice letter) is an effective method of increasing happiness and life satisfaction. There are a lot of fringe benefits to this as well — people rarely get handwritten notes much anymore, so they stand out over a “thnx” via text.
Handwritten letters are also a great way to start the process of reciprocity. Though you should be sending them out of sincere appreciation for someone, remember that true networking (not the slimy business card kind) is about helping and letting people know that they matter to you.
Surround yourself with happy
Joy truly is contagious. Research shows the more you surround yourself with positive people, the happier you’ll feel. Time to go catch up with your bestie?
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (and avoiding a pessimistic outlook) really can make you feel better about your situation. Perhaps most interestingly, a change in view can have a really big impact on your overall happiness. A smile to a stranger, a door held open, giving selflessly, volunteering, sharing, helping others by GIVING of yourself is the highest standard of humanity. It’s the very best of us.
Spend money on EXPERIENCES not things
A fulfilling life doesn’t lie in our possessions, it’s found in the experiences we have and the people we share them with. If you’re going to spend a little moolah, spend it on a trip, a concert or any other experience that will bring you joy. Science says you’ll be happier in the long run.
There is no getting around this. I don’t care how much you hate exercise, there are so many benefits for it (both physically and psychologically) that you should be doing it regularly in some form. It personally took me a while to get my head around this. I would go through phases of exercising and then stop when I reached a target weight or dress size. I recently lost a dress size, and recognised the mental and emotional benefits of exercise, so I just continued.
Lower the bar
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a lacklustre New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. It’s no secret that expectation can lead to disappointment if the bar is set too high (in fact, research backs this up). We’re not implying that you should set the bar low, but sometimes realistic ideas make you happier in the long run.
How do you search for happiness or peace? Would love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.
Let’s talk about it!