“The Purpose of our Lives is to Be Happy” — Dalai Lama
Even though happiness is one of our primary motivations in life, only one in three Americans reports being happy.
What’s even worse is that according to the World Happiness Report, global happiness levels are declining, meaning that people all over the globe tend to be less happy compared to previous years.
Even though I am lucky to be living in one of the ten happiest countries in the world (Austria), I believe there’s a lot each of us can do every single day to improve our own but also others’ happiness.
According to happiness researchers, happiness makes us more sociable, strengthens our immune systems, helps to build stronger relationships, improves our productivity, and lengthens our lives.
In short: Being happy is cool. And science proves that happy people also make those around themselves more cheerful.
A few years ago, I read the following quote by Grant Cardone, and I’ll probably never forget it:
“Success is your duty, obligation, and responsibility.”
I believe there’s incredible power in that quote.
Here’s why: If you want to help others, make an impact, or even a tiny change in the world, you first need to succeed in some way. You need to make sure you have the resources to help others, no matter if it’s money, time, or energy.
And I also believe that we can somewhat change the quote so that it applies to happiness:
“Your happiness is your duty, obligation, and responsibility.”
If you are happy, you’ll make the whole world slightly happier as every happy person adds up to a happier planet.
So, improving your happiness is not a luxury but rather a duty as it impacts everyone who surrounds you.
Now, I know there are some significant crises on our planet and that not everyone can pursue happiness because some people have significant problems in life.
However, I believe that if you had the time to open this article and read it up until here, you’ll find a few minutes per day to invest in your own, and your fellows’ happiness.
“When it rains, look for rainbows.
When it’s dark, look for stars.”
Start your day with a visualization
Scientific studies prove that our brains can’t distinguish between actual reality and visualization.
Visualizing yourself living the life of your dreams will not only help you to actually get there, but it will also set a positive tone for your day.
For example, a guided meditation that leads you through a successful and joyful day can increase your happiness and help you to start your day in a relaxed way.
Another typical way to practice visualization are vision boards.
A vision board is a collection of pictures and images that excite you. These can be items you want to own one day or pictures of experiences you want to make, like traveling to specific destinations.
I have several digital vision boards for different areas of my life, but I also have one glued into my daily journal.
Every morning, I open my journal and spend two minutes looking at the items of my vision board and imaging myself living the life that I admire.
This instantly boosts my mood, but it also motivates me to kick ass and give my best to have a productive day.
How to do it:
Decide whether you want to work with a vision board or rather do a little guided meditation.
If you chose the meditation, do a little research and find some guided meditations you like.
If you, however, chose the vision board, start by creating a simple vision board that excites you. You can put your board together digitally or even print images out and put them together on a physical board.
Take inspired action on something that excites you
Even though the belief that we need much to be happy is wrong, getting what you desire is nice.
One of the rather uncommon actions to boost happiness that I personally love is taking action on something that truly matters to me.
I love being responsible for my life and taking action on the things that matter to me, and it certainly makes me happy to achieve my goals.
Therefore, I give my best to spend at least five minutes per day on making progress on something that truly matters.
Right now, that’s my writing.
At the beginning of 2020, I promised myself to write every day. And so far, I am well off.
However, of course, I can’t manage to write a lot every day. On some days, I lack the time, and on some others, I lack the energy and motivation.
Yet, I managed to write at least for five minutes, even if I didn’t feel like doing so. At least, I crafted a new headline or wrote an introduction for a future story.
It isn’t always easy, but appreciating my goals and doing something that excites me, even if it’s for five minutes, certainly improved my overall happiness.
How to do it:
Decide on one single project that genuinely matters to you right now.
This can be a side-hustle, voluntary work, or the desire to care for your body.
Whatever it is, come up with an idea of how you could support this goal with the least amount of time.
Once you know the answer, sticking to it daily will be much easier.
Practice powerful affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements in the present tense that empower and motivate us.
Even though most people struggle to believe in the power of affirmations, their effect is scientifically proven.
Practicing powerful affirmations is one of the most uncomplicated actions you can take to increase your happiness and energy levels. All you need to do is decide on a few mantras that inspire you and regularly repeat them.
Sounds too easy to be true, I know, but it works.
Empirical studies prove the key to positive affirmations and why they work.
However, besides increasing your happiness, daily positive affirmations come with many more benefits, such as a decrease in stress levels, more confidence, increased productivity, or higher levels of academic achievement.
One study even proved how affirmation exercises could boost the problem-solving abilities of chronically stressed people.
How to do it:
Create a list of affirmations that are explicitly empowering you in those areas of your life where you need more energy, motivation, and success.
Start with five to ten affirmations, write those down, and make sure to repeat them every day.
You can write them down in a journal, or simply repeat them in your head, it’s up to you, and both methods work perfectly as long as you do it consistently.
Focus on your breath
Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
Too often, we get stressed and overwhelmed in everyday situations and let our happiness drop due to inconveniences.
Yet, most of the time, these problems are short-dated; in most cases, they even disappear after a few minutes or hours.
One of the easiest yet most effective ways to control your mind and increase your daily happiness is by doing a little breathing exercise.
Even five seconds of conscious breathing can bring you back to reality and help you to raise your vibration.
How to do it:
Whenever you feel tensed and overwhelmed, stop for a second and take three deep breaths.
Feel your body, focus your mind on your breath, and while breathing out, let go of the tension.
I first did this exercise together with a mindfulness teacher, and at the beginning, I didn’t believe how much of an impact it could have on my life. Yet, now, it’s an essential part of my daily life.
Whenever I feel stressed, I stop for a while and focus on my breathing. By doing so, I realize there’s nothing to worry about, and I can again focus on the positive things in life.
Perform an act of kindness
Science proves that by helping others, we also help ourselves. An act of kindness makes us better, healthier, and happier.
In one study, sociologists tracked more than 2,000 Americans over five years to find out what makes them happy. They found out that those who described themselves as “very happy” did around 6 hours of voluntary work per month.
Researchers also believe being kind and helping others gives us a mental boost as it provides us with a neurochemical sense of reward, which means that after every act of kindness, we feel a sense of accomplishment and proudness, which again boosts our happiness.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come without leaving happier.” — Mother Teresa
How to do it:
Most people are not used to acting kind and helping others as we don’t really learn how to do it.
Unless you have open-hearted, caring parents, you might have grown up with lessons like “Stay away from strangers.” rather than being taught how to support people in need.
In fact, we face situations where we could support others multiple times per day.
Supporting an old lady to carry her groceries, helping a mother to raise the buggy at the stairs, offering a little help to a co-worker…all these situations occur regularly, and instead of looking away, we should have the courage to help.
Gratefulness is one of the biggest happiness-boosters we all have at disposal. Yet, too often, we forget practicing it.
Most people are so used to complaining that they don’t appreciate all their blessings anymore.
However, the truth is that even in our worst times, we have so much to be grateful for.
As you are reading this post, I assume you have a stable internet connection, a roof over your head, access to clean water, something to eat, and so much more. Yet, we often take these things for granted.
“The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are.” — Goldie Hawn
How to do it:
My favorite way of practicing gratitude is during my morning routine. Every morning, I am writing down what I am grateful for.
This usually doesn’t take more than a few minutes, but it helps me to focus on the essential things in life and don’t get overwhelmed by all the fluff we face each day.
Sounds easy, right?
It is easy.
But it’s also highly effective in increasing your happiness.
Studies have shown that even fake smiles can reduce stress levels, lower heart rates, and as a result, increase our happiness.
When we smile, our brains experience a chemical reaction and release hormones, including dopamine and serotonin, which are our so-called happiness hormones.
“Happiness is the best makeup.” — Drew Barrymore
How to do it:
It sounds weird, I know, but smiling can trick your brain into believing you are happy, which then results in actual happiness.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed or grumpy, put a smile on your face!
Remind yourself to smile several times per day, and you’ll experience a happiness boost for yourself but also others.
Here’s how I remind myself of smiling regularly: Every time I see a mirror, I smile. You will be surprised by how often we actually see our own face every day. By smiling at yourself, you will surely increase your daily happiness level.
Being happy doesn’t need to be complicated. Neither does it need to be infrequent.
Through simple yet effective acts, we can take control of our personal happiness and, at the same time, make others happier as well.
Choose one of the actions that resonates with you most and implement it into your daily routine step by step. Each of those won’t take more than five minutes, but it can have a tremendous effect on your life.
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