It’s so easy to get sucked into a bad mood. You know it’s happened to you before. Someone in your office is a Debbie Downer and takes down the whole crew. Or you get stuck in traffic on your commute in and it spoils your entire day. I try my hardest not to let these things affect me but it’s really difficult. After keeping a gratitude journal and recognizing the things that I’m happy to have in my life, I’ve learned that happiness can be found anywhere– you just have to be willing to look for it. Even the simplest of things that we experience everyday have been proven to brighten our moods and increase our happiness. Most of the time, it’s the little things that matter most! Find your inner happiness by incorporating these 10 easy steps into your daily routine:
1. Plan a trip, but don’t take one: We all know what is feels like to look forward to something– one of my favorite parts of trip planning is getting to talk about it weeks before the actual date arrives! Just the effect of an anticipated vacation has the power to boost happiness for eight weeks. A study published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest point of happiness came during the planning stages of a vacation. If you can’t take time for a vacation right now, put something down on the calendar anyways and remind yourself of the future trip—it will give you something to look forward to when you’re feeling down. Check out my Pinterest board for a little inspiration.
2. Move closer to work: While an hour commute may not seem like a lot at first, after doing it over and over again, it begins to become something we dread. I just moved two subway stops away from my office and I have to tell you…it’s really amazing! I read an interesting article on the blog the Art of Manliness. It said that a long commute is the thing that makes people the least happy, however, they tend to believe a bigger house or better job will compensate for this—in reality, it doesn’t work. Nothing is more aggravating than sitting in lines of traffic day after day. Move closer to work in order to avoid that long commute and save time for yourself.
3. Walk tall: Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk! A study conducted by Florida Atlantic University found that those who walked with a confident, upbeat stride felt happier than those who did not. By lifting your head and swinging your arms, you already appear happier and more confident than those who walk hunched over and looking downwards—and it actually makes you feel happier too!
4. Give to others: The act of donating gifts or services to others results in a “helper’s high”—which has even more health benefits than exercise! Researcher Stephen Post reported that those who spend money on others have much higher happiness levels than those who spend it on themselves. The benefit of doing something for others not only leaves us happy, but those around us as well. Be generous!
5. Exercise: Speaking of exercise — between day to day schedules, it can be hard to factor in time for a workout—especially when you come home tired after a long work day. But if you thought you didn’t have time—just a few minutes may be enough! A study mentioned in the New York Times proved that the highest levels of happiness were found at the beginning of a workout. Exercise is proven to release proteins and endorphins that make us feel happier. Whether you’re in it for physical changes or not, exercise has the power to improve your mental health, along with your physical health in just five minutes. I’ve told you this before but I do yoga for just 10 minutes everyday and the benefits are wonderful.
6. Get some fresh air: The sun can do more than just brighten the sky—it can brighten your mood as well! A study published by the American Meteorological Society found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, or 57.02°F. Just going outside for 20 minutes a day can boost your mood and freshen your mind. Now that the temperature is warming, keep an eye out on the weather forecast!
7. Keep a gratitude journal: Remind yourself of what you’re thankful for! It’s easy to get caught up in things and forget at times, but many studies have found that those who are grateful for what they have feel a higher sense of happiness than those who do not. Recognizing what gives you meaning makes you feel appreciation for those in your life– enhancing your mood, your relationships and your overall happiness. Get a piece of paper and a pen and start writing your gratitude list. Or use the Happy Tapper Gratitude App.
8. Sing: Get your vocal chords ready! Singing has been psychologically proven to release endorphins from the brain, resulting in happiness. Singing requires deep breathing, as well, which can help lower levels of anxiety. Even if you’re tone deaf, don’t be afraid to sing in the shower to increase your mood.
9. Drink Wine: I think this is one we’ll all enjoy– wine has been proven to relax drinkers and lower blood pressure. If you’re feeling stressed out, indulge in a glass or two. But remember, moderation is key! There’s nothing worse than a hangover in the morning to kill your mood.
10. Smile: No matter how upset you may be, smiling can help alleviate pain. When you put your smiling muscles to work, signals are sent to the brain to help reinforce feelings of positivity and joy. Smiling can help us feel good inside and look good from the outside!
This piece was originally posted on ListProducer.com.Listproducer.com was started by journalist Paula Rizzo to help people use lists to get their precious time and sanity back, all while getting more done. The blog is updated three times per week and has a loyal following. Rizzo’s first book “Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed” will be released in January 2015. (Viva Editions)
Photo credit: blogs.vancouversun.com