The dictionary defines happiness as the state of “feeling pleasure or contentment.”
Your definition of happiness may be different from someone else’s. We all have our own way of personalizing what brings us the greatest joy.
For some individuals, it’s a peaceful bike ride alone while others may find being surrounded by a boisterous family is the perfect way to spend a day.
It is generally believed happiness in life is a static emotion. A happy state of mind expands and retracts as life events and stress levels go up and down.
Is happiness your default state of mind?
What is holding you back from being happy? It’s a thought-provoking question to contemplate, especially when happiness can affect your overall health.
Studies have shown a heavy overlap of joyful people who are also healthy. This is generally attributed to similar lifestyle patterns of people who describe themselves as “happy.”
Here are six simple steps for finding and enhancing the happiness in your own life:
- Eat a Balanced Diet:
Your body functions at its highest level when you provide it with the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Wellness of the body has a huge impact on the happiness you can receive out of life. Poor nutrition can cause you to feel sick, sluggish, and irritable. Focus on eating foods that will nourish your body efficiently and provide you with the energy you need in your daily life.
- Get Adequate Sleep:
Just as eating the right foods feeds your physical self, getting enough sleep allows the body to function properly. Aim for seven hours of sleep minimum every night to improve focus, memory, and energy levels. Too little sleep results in an inability to retain information, poor concentration, and fatigue that affects you mentally and physically.
- Exercise Regularly:
Exercise produces endorphins, which are hormones in the body that cause a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine gives the brain a sensation of euphoria (happiness) and reduces feelings of stress and pain. Getting your body moving gets the blood pumping, oxygen flowing, and improves brain function. Try to work 15 minutes of exercise – even low impact forms such as yoga and tai chi – into your daily routine.
- Be Kind:
Studies have proven that preforming random acts of kindness can increase your persona level of life happiness. In one study, published last year in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers gave participants a survey to measure life satisfaction. They then assigned all 86 participants to one of three groups.
One group was instructed to perform a daily act of kindness for 10 consecutive days. The other two groups were given different instructions. At the end of the 10 days, the researchers asked the participants to complete the life satisfaction survey again. The group that practiced kindness experienced a significant boost in happiness.
The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good, even when performed over as little as 10 days. Challenge yourself to do at least one random act of kindness each and every day.
- Express Gratitude:
It is easy to focus on negative events in your life such as stress at work, fights with friends or family, or financial trouble. Instead of focusing on the bad, try focusing on the good. Expressing gratitude includes being thankful for your life, showing appreciation for the people in it, or simply saying thank you to a person who holds the door open for you.
Grateful people are likely to be happier, hopeful, and more energetic. They also express positive emotions more frequently. Gratitude helps people cope more efficiently with trauma and stress, enabling you to overcome bad situations more quickly.
- Connect with Friends and Family:
Research has found that the quality and depth of your social network is one of the most important factors in determining happiness. People who form strong bonds with family and friends are generally the happiest. Highest life happiness levels are reached by those who have solid relationships with friends and family and take time to nurture these relationships.
Reach out to the people you care about. Even if you already define yourself as “happy,” your positive presence may help others to feel the same way.
Finding happiness does not have to be a profound and extensive ordeal. You can obtain life contentment by taking small steps every day.
Take care of your body, treat others with kindness, and be grateful for your life and the people in it. The first steps are actually the easiest. Embrace happiness in your life.
Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.