Happiness and habits are two words that most people don’t associate with one another. Most think they’re either destined to be happy or they’re destined to spend their life Googgling How to Be Happy. (Googling is, of course, the act of using Google. I assume everyone knows that, but after my much loved and too adorable for words aunt though lol stood for lots of love, I take nothing for granted. I’d wondered why she always signed each e-mail with lol… even when talking about someone’s bad health or the economy. I thought she was just a little nuts, I guess.)
Habits, however, are vital to all aspects of life. Think about it: If we want to lose weight, we know there are certain habits we need to form to, first, get us on the right track and, second, keep us on the right track. If we want to become more organized, we realize we have to develop better organizational habits. Even grouches have to employ certain habits to curb their temper.
So it should come as little surprise that habits can also be beneficial in bringing more happiness into our lives. The following are 10 such “Happiness Habits” that happen to be my favorites. I’d love for you to share your own favorite “Happiness Habits” in the comments.
- Smile often. I don’t care if you have a legitimate reason or not… smile! No matter how bad things are, there’s always, always, always something to smile about. Granted, sometimes we have to look, but it’s always worth the time and effort. Somehow, when we smile, it helps the rest of us believe everything is okay. It’s as though the rest of our body says, “(S)he’s smiling, life must be great right now.”
- Stay in the present. There’s a great quote that says something like, “The past wasn’t as perfect as we remember and the future isn’t as bad as we think it’ll be.” Don’t live in the past and don’t obsess about the future. Stay in the here and now. Get in the habit of focusing on what (and who) is right in front of you.
- Simplify. Few things kill a great mood like feeling overwhelmed or stretched too far. Stop trying to do it all and stop trying to be all things to all people. Life is to enjoy, not let slip by while you’re constantly grinding it out. Try to simplify all areas of your life and you’ll feel a lot happier and more at peace.
- Make others happy. The surest way to bring a smile to your own face is to put a smile on someone else’s face (even if that someone else is a pet – they “smile” in their own way). Do little things on a regular basis that make your loved one’s light up. When they light up, it’ll warm your world.
- Roll with the Flow! Don’t get so caught up thinking that everything has to be perfect… after all, no one ever said it would be. Learn to adapt and, when necessary, simply say, “It is what it is.” Never feel sorry for yourself or lash out at others. Neither of these approaches solves anything. In fact, they make matters worse and carry you further from happiness than ever before.
- Determine what things make you happy. What activities and/or situations make you happy? Make room in your life for these things on a regular basis. If having a clean and neat home (or car, garage…) make you feel happy, develop housecleaning habits that set you up for success. If watching tv with your spouse and pet makes you as happy as a pig in mud, develop the habit of watching certain shows together. Look forward to them, talk about them… heck, even tweet about them!
- Eat Healthy. This habit may seem a bit out of place here, but I believe it’s as important to happiness as the other 9. Overeating, eating junk food, and neglecting necessary vitamins (from fruits and vegetables) have negative effects on our moods, in addition to our bodies. Adapt healthy eating habits and you’ll soon find that you have more energy, stabler moods, and an all around improved sense of being.
- Relax, Max. Make time each day to do absolutely nothing. When we’re on the go every hour of the day, we wear ourselves out mentally, physically, and emotionally. Allow yourself time each day to unwind and relax.
- Breath. I know, I know, this is something we do automatically. I’m not talking about normal breathing – I’m talking about deep breaths – the kind where you can see your chest rise and fall. Test yourself several times throughout the day to see how deeply you’re breathing. Most people find that, sometimes they are actually holding their breath! Deep breaths help you to reconnect with yourself, your present, and the world around you.
- Pamper yourself. Develop the habit of treating yourself to occasional fun, frivolous little treats. Whether it’s a hot new color of nail polish, a box of golf balls, a Dairy Queen milkshake (how good does that sound right now?!) or a new top you just can’t leave the store without – give yourself an occasional lift with something that makes you smile from ear to ear. Naturally, this treat doesn’t have to be a thing – it can be an experience, such as a bubble bath, foot massage, or 30 minute sitting in the front yard watching birds. The idea is to realize that you deserve to be happy and to realize that it’s up to you to make that happen.
One thing to keep in mind: Never become dependent upon other PEOPLE to make you happy. Depending on others for your happiness is an invitation to disaster (plus it isn’t fair to them). Take care of your own happiness! The habits listed above can help you do just that. I hope you’ll share your own thoughts in the comments!