It may seem hard to believe, but there is a lot of truth behind the idea that happiness is a choice. Even though genetics and life circumstances play a role in your level of happiness, you do have control over much of it. It's unrealistic, of course, to snap your fingers and decide to be happy. But if you bring consciousness, gratitude and even frivolity to your day, you'll likely feel more joyful. So, just how can you do that?
Try these five ways to boost your level of happiness:
- Reconnect with what brings you joy. From throwing around a baseball to taking art classes, everyone has activities they used to enjoy. Perhaps a busy schedule or aging body got you out of the habit or made you feel like you should quit. Regardless of the reason you stopped, give those fun activities a try again. Reconnecting with what you love to do is a simple way to increase your joy.
- Get in the zone. Have you ever been so involved in something that time seems to stand still and your concerns seem to disappear? This is called being in a state of flow. It's a state of complete engagement in the task at hand, and it can boost your happiness. Playing a musical instrument and getting lost in a good book are examples of how you can get into the flow.
- Find novelty in everyday life. Your brain is attracted to things that are new or novel. When you are paying attention to something new, you are focused on the present moment, which can boost feelings of happiness. Engage your brain by finding something new or seeing something in a new way. You don't have to go bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower. Start with something small, such as lying in the grass and looking up at the clouds. Although the clouds and grass aren't new, each cloud is different, and be honest, when is the last time you did this?
- Put yourself first. There will always be something you "should" be doing. That to-do list will never end. It's up to you to find balance. If you keep a calendar, add something at least once a week that's just for you. Let your family know that this is a priority, so you don't risk canceling as soon as something else pops up.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Spending time in nature can reduce stress and increase feelings of vitality, awe, gratitude and compassion. The natural world helps remind people that they are but small beings on this planet and gives them a greater sense of the whole. Nature nurtures and restores. It is one of the greatest resources for happiness.
- Make a list of activities that you used to enjoy but have given up in recent years. Choose one to reconnect with and dedicate at least two weeks to it. See if this activity makes you happier and consider making time for it again.
- Spend at least 10 minutes a day outside. Pay attention to the trees, grass, water, breeze or whatever else surrounds you.
- Consider things that have made you both happy and unhappy in the past. Make a list and let it help guide your path to happiness.