If you are lucky enough to have seen Happy: The Documentary by director Roko Belic, you've already learned some powerful - and surprising - findings about what truly contributes to happiness. (If you haven't seen the movie, I hope you do. Its strength lies in finding happiness even when the world does not cooperate.)
The movie has so many inspiring ideas that you might not know where to start. So here is a list of ideas to help you on your journey. But don't get overwhelmed - just pick one that you can see fitting into your life and get started. (You are always welcomed back for another):
10 Tips for Happiness
- Explore your expectations of happiness. Are you ready for happiness? Do you think you deserve it? What does it look like? Don't just wish for more happiness. Be specific and decide what are you going to do to make that happen.
- Connect with people you like. The research is clear. Our happiness is tied to having good people around us. So first - be that person for someone else. Then - make sure you are investing in relationships that support your happiness. Reach out, join groups, say 'yes' to quality social connections.
- Find experiences that offer deeper meaning. What is important to you? How can you engage in experiences that tap into your values? You can't find deeper happiness if you don't dig deeper into this source. Connect your values to how you spend your time. Reinvigorate the roles you already have: Find the deeper value in your parenting, in your intimate relationship, in your creativity or your special gifts. Volunteer, be part of a solution to a problem, change jobs to more align with what you would like your legacy on this earth to be.
- Go with your Flow activities. What is an activity that engages you so much that you lose yourself in it? Not for money or accolades but for the pure purpose of instrinsic pleasure? That's Flow. It could be building a fence, playing a game of tennis, jogging, working through a tough dilemma or a tough crossword puzzle, tackling a yard full of weeds or writing a satisfying article. When you are done you feel refreshed, accomplished, maybe even sweaty but very satisfied. And to be happy, you need to make time for it - hopefully often!
- Practice Kindness meditation. The research is very strong here. Spending time meditating - especially in kindness meditation - can seriously boost your happiness quotient. Think of it like healthy eating for the heart. And it is simpler that you think.
- Do kind acts. Help someone else. You might think this is counter-intuitive. Shouldn't happiness come from someone helping or being kind to you? And while receiving kindness can be wonderful, waiting for it sets you up to be passive and possibly even a hostage of your unhappiness. Turn it around. Instead of wanting the world to make you happier - set out to give to someone else. Turns out it's like a boomerang.
- Do something novel. This one can be challenging because novelty - by definition - must be created again and again which competes with the comfort and safety of routine and familiarity. In fact saying 'yes' to novelty requires being open to being open. Need practice? Start with doing familiar things in novel ways.
- Get physical. Play. Spend time in nature. Lets face it - we get too good at the opposite - being sedentary, working in spending time in artifical environments. Challenge yourself to increase your pleasure activities. They may seem fivolous but only if happiness is not your goal (see Tip #1).
- Express gratitude often. Gratitude is the mother of happiness - as in it is where happiness is born! Without appreciation, you cannot really know that you are happy. So find a way to practice gratefulness in your thoughts, words and deeds - often.
- Combine several tips into one activity! Possibly the only good use of multi-tasking. Why not combine a few happiness tips like 3 & 7 or 2, 6 & 9. In fact feel free to get creative if that puts you in Flow and come up with something that combines 4 or more? And if you do and want to share - post it below (but only if you do it for real 🙂
Here's to being happy on your quest for happiness.
Annie Zirkel, LPC is a Relationship Consultant with a specialty in Optimism and Gratitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.