×
Switch to Afrikaans

10 ways to feel happier about life

Psychotherapist and author of ‘Get the Happiness Habit’ reveals the habits people follow to be happier. By Christine Webber
ways to feel happier about life

The reality is, we can ALL learn to be happier. Happiness can become a habit, just like any other habit, from exercising regularly to eating more veg. As with all new habits, cut yourself some slack: don’t expect it to stick overnight. But if you work at it, you can definitely become more joyful. 

Here’s how you can inject little bits of happiness into your life:

1. Recognise happiness when it’s happening

Often, when things go wrong in our lives, we look back and say: ‘I now realise how happy I was before all this happened. Why didn’t I enjoy life when I had the chance?’ Isn’t this sad? The fact is that life does throw up reverses of all kinds, but in order to be happy we need to make the most of the good times. Make a point to recognise when you feel happy, so you can be grateful for it and enjoy it.

2. Be active

It’s much harder to be content if you feel stodgy and unfit. It has been proven that we will feel better when we exercise – so make time for it. For decades scientists have been telling us that when we’re active, we produce more of the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, endorphins.

And more recent research has led many experts to believe that regular exercise can lift our mood as effectively as anti-depressants. So, whether you choose a brisk walk, a dance class, or simply kicking a ball around in the garden with your children, you’ll find that moving your body more should help move those bad moods too.

Related: 3 ways to sneak in exercise at work

3. Don’t let bad moments ruin your entire day

It is not expected to be ‘rays of sunshine’ all the time, but it is important to know that everyone has ups and downs and this is a part of life. Sometimes things happen and the best way to deal with it is to put it into perspective.

So if your train is cancelled, it rains when you don’t have an umbrella, or your team loses a match, don’t let this disappointment ruin your entire day. Of course, temporarily, you’re likely to feel fed up. But make sure to quickly draw a mental line under it and move on. 

4. Be aware of others

It is very difficult to be truly happy in life if your motto is: ‘Look After Number One’. Self-centred individuals tend to be bitter, irritable and unpleasant.

In order to be happier it is important to be a part of the world’s community. Become aware of inequalities and try to be involved in volunteer projects. Research shows that volunteering is great for elevating our mood and sense of contentment.

5. Eat well

A lot of miserable people resort to junk food in a bid to cheer themselves up. Such ‘cheer’ is usually short-lived. Happy people, on the other hand, recognise that they’re responsible for their own bodies and minds, and they usually make it their business to understand good nutrition to be as healthy as possible.

All happiness experts agree that a strong social network is a basic requirement for contentment.

Related: 5 ways to talk to your kids about healthy food

6. Make time for friends and family

No matter how busy life gets, it is important to recognise the importance of a strong social network. All happiness experts agree that interaction with those close to us is a basic requirement for contentment. And there is a growing body of research which suggests that those of us who have good and supportive relationships with friends and family are likely to be healthier, and to live longer.

7. Get on with things

We all have to do things we hate. And we all experience set backs when we’re trying to achieve something we want. But it is important to develop what some psychologists call High Frustration Tolerance – or HFT.

In a nutshell, study for that exam, instead of simply hoping for the best. And if there’s a tax form to be filled in – no matter how much you hate doing it – don’t leave it to the last minute, because you know you’ll feel relieved when it is done. Avoid procrastination and instead do all you can to minimise potential for future frustration. Let your new motto in life be ‘Just do it!’

8. Take responsibility

When things go wrong, don’t stand around muttering: ‘Someone should do something.’ Use your own resilience to work out what to do about the problem at hand. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ask advice from friends or even a therapist. But don’t wait around expecting that someone else will magically make things better.

9. Have perspective

Manage your worries by viewing them as part of life’s ups and downs rather than dwelling on them and turning them into a crisis. Do this by making sure you have a wider view of the world, and of bigger issues.

For example, try to contrast your own problem with those of the thousands of refugees attempting to escape war-torn countries. Or compare your current issue (say, rain during your child’s birthday party) with a friend who’s had a more significant trauma recently (the death of a relative, perhaps).

Do your best to create multiple ways of regularly defusing your stresses. It is important seek solace in something you love such as art, music, reading, walking, taking part in sport, or seeing friends regularly. In other words, keep things in perspective.

10. Look forward

Many adults blame their parents or their schooling for their current difficulties. But it is vital to realise that this is a waste of time, because you can’t change the past; you can only change how you think about it.

Try not to dwell on your own mistakes, rather recognise that we all make mis-judgements. Make a resolve not to make the same error again and then focus all your energies on the future.

From: NetDoctor UK

PHOTO: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

ALSO READ: 

3 easy yoga moves that’ll make you happy

Four one-minute stress fixes

This is the most important family value to teach your kids

Like this?
to our Free Good Housekeeping Newsletter