Much as we’d all like to be lead happier lives, the pressures of everyday life can sometimes make happiness elusive. For those bogged-down in striving after “the good things in life,” the secrets to finding true happiness may seem surprsing. Here are five easy ways almost anyone can bring a little more happiness into their lives:
Develop Positive Relationships
People who have many good relationships are generally happier than others. Friends and family are what make life worth living, but positive relationships don’t just happen on their own. You have to work at them. Be sure to set aside a sizable chunk of quality time each week for the people who are most important to you. Make an ongoing weekly date with your spouse or child, or set up a routine time for meeting with your closest friends. It’s too easy to get busy and take our relationships for granted. If you find yourself becoming isolated, join a club or take a class. Volunteer for a local organization. Extend yourself, and people will extend themselves back to you.
Rather than becoming frustrated because you can’t keep up with the Joneses, learn to appreciate the things you do have. Gratitude is the great equalizer. Some people who have very little seem happier than many others who have a lot. The difference is gratitude. Those who don’t enjoy the small things in life never develop the capacity to truly enjoy the large things.
Focus on the Present
Often, when we are unhappy, it’s not because of anything going on in the present moment. Rather, we spend much of our time worrying about the future or fixating on things that happened in the past. While it is important to plan responsibly for the future, none of us knows what will happen tomorrow. Worrying about what might happen later serves no real purpose, and only robs us of our joy today. When you catch yourself becoming unhappy over something that happened the past or may happen in the future, take a minute to ground yourself in the reality of the present moment. The more often you practice this habit, the easier it will become to find simple joy in the here and now.
Take Time for Silence
Throughout history, the people regarded as the wisest and most serene were those who set aside time for silence and introspection. You don’t have to be a desert ascetic to unplug from the noise of daily life and allow yourself some time for silence, though. Whether you meditate or pray, take a quiet walk in the woods or the park, stretch out in a backyard hammock, or engage in a quiet hobby such as painting, knitting, or fishing, be sure to take some quiet time every day for your mind to relax and regenerate.
Get Some Exercise
Many people consider exercise to be just another chore, but physical activity is one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to elevate your mood. Happiness is as much physical as it is mental, and simple movement releases endorphins — mood elevating hormones — into the body. Plus, the more we move the healthier we are. Take a walk, ride a bike, learn a new sport, play fetch with your dog, go swimming, learn to do yoga, or do some jumping jacks in your living room — just get moving!