What is happiness?
Feeling a little blue lately and wish you were in a better mood. All of us have days when we’re out of sorts and feel gloomy. Studies suggest that you are not alone many others are feeling that way too. But what is happiness and how can you find it for yourself?
Dictionary.com defines happiness this way:
happy[ hap-ee ]
adjective, hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est.
delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing:
to be happy to see a person.
characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy:
a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky:
a happy, fruitful land.
happiness[ hap-ee-nis ]
the quality or state of being happy.
good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Finding happiness in your everyday
These studies show that there is a link between generosity and happiness. Volunteering was one of the most successful ways to boost psychological health and reduce your risk of depression. While volunteering can be difficult in the age of COVID, we need to come up with some resourceful and clever ways to connect but still be safe. I have seen parades of cars with big handmade signs, streamers, and even singing at nursing homes. You can also purge your closets for clothes and shoes that no longer need and donate them to the local Salvation Army. There is even a need for prescription eyeglasses. Shelters and food banks need help year-round. People willing to foster animals are also in high demand. Help no matter how insignificant you think your help it might be, it is significant to the recipient.
Multiple studies suggest that meditating — focusing intently and quietly on the present for set periods of time — can help lessen feelings of depression and anxiety. Research in long term meditators (Buddhist monks, for example) shows that these peoples’ brains are well developed in areas that could be linked to heightened awareness and emotional control. Other studies show that people who complete a meditation program tend to show brain changes linked with self-awareness, perspective, and memory.
Breathing meditation is a great exercise that you can do anywhere. Simply allow yourself to sit comfortably with your back straight. Now close your eyes and become aware of the flow of air into and out of your nostrils. That’s all there is to it. Do this for 10-15 minutes and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how you feel afterward.
Go for a walk/Exercise
Taking a just a 20-minute walk can give you mood-boosting benefits for up to 12 hours. If possible, go into a natural environment with plants and birds to help push negative thoughts away. On your walk what do you notice first? The different shades of greenery, the fresh smell of country air, the sounds of birds, or the sunlight shining through the trees?
Exercise is proven to increase feel-good chemicals in the brain, reduce stress hormones, and relieve depression and anxiety.
Journaling helps to control and improve your mood by helping you prioritize issues that you are making you stressed. Keeping tabs on the things you feel lucky to have in your life is a great way to boost your mood. Journaling is great for setting goals and a way to self-reflect. Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed so that before you go to sleep you can reflect on a few of the positive things that happened during the day. You can also journal in the morning with the positive intentions you would like to have for the day.
There is a lot of research about smiling but they had me with smiling can make you look younger and thinner! Who wouldn’t want that? Did you know that it takes more effort to frown than to smile? Smiling lifts your mood and makes you feel better, even if you are faking the smile. A few years ago I wrote about how smiling at strangers and how it might keep them from suicide. To this day I try to smile at everyone. It’s a small thing that might make a big difference in someone’s life.
Making Happiness Habits
These are all pretty simple techniques and when you need is a quick pick me up these may be just the thing for you. You’ll find not only that your happiness rises with every micro-moment of happiness, but also that making yourself happy becomes easier as you practice.
My number one go-to “bit of happiness” when I’m feeling gloomy is a peppermint white mocha latte. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it and a bigger smile when I take that first sip. On that first sip, my whole body relaxes and I instantly feel less stressed. That’s why I call it heaven in a cup.
I journal in several planners and a few notebooks. You don’t need to purchase anything special though as you can journal in anything, even on a computer. If you don’t want anyone to read what you write, you can write on wish paper that you lite on fire and poof its gone.
My hope is that you will find the little bit of the happiness you are seeking among these ideas. Please let me know in the comments what steps worked for you. What other techniques have you tried? Have you done anything that at first seemed difficult but now is a habit? Looking forward to hearing from you.