It’s been said time and time again that happiness is a journey, not a destination. While I wholeheartedly believe happiness is an emotion, I’ve also concluded that it’s something we as humans need to consciously choose for ourselves. This mantra can be applied to everyone, because whether you are struggling with a mental illness, going through a rough time, or even just kind of content with where you’re at, we could all use a little more positivity in our lives. If you’re skeptical on how to be happy every day, I know it may sound almost impossible to achieve. But there are countless little changes that can be made, from the time you wake up in the morning until it’s time to lay your head down and go to bed, that can all make a real difference in your everyday mood.
Here's how I see it: Happiness can't be a destination, because every one of us defines happiness differently. When I'm feeling particularly down, my go-to method to feeling better is to either write in a journal or lose myself in an intense workout. But your happy place might be through a computer screen or cooking in the kitchen. The trick to being happy every single day is to figure out what sort of activities, music, and the like bring you the most joy in life.
Thankfully, there are a number of little details you can easily alter in your daily life that can have a significant effect on your overall mood. Here are a few tips and tricks from experts on how you can be a happier person every day, starting right this second.
1. Change Your Mind, Change Your World
There's truth to the cliché, you know. A positive mindset really can make or break an entire day. If you got up on the wrong side of the bed, roll back under the covers, and try again.
Believe me, I fully understand that on some days ugly thoughts and negative vibes can all but consume you. But it's crucial to never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
According to Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, research indicates that negative thinking can actually decrease the amount of serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with happiness) produced by the brain.
She tells Elite Daily,
When we engage in positive thinking by reframing and challenging our thoughts, we are increasing the chances that we will experience [a] positive mood.
Talk to a friend (texting, phone call, email, etc.) to let them know what your negative thoughts are, and ask them to reframe and challenge them for you so you can read it or hear it. This may ... help you get back into more of a positive frame of mind
2. Make Someone Smile
Happiness doesn't always come from focusing on yourself; it can also stem from showing others they are loved or cared about.
According to Paul Lavella Jr., a licensed professional counselor and director of alumni services at Summit Behavioral Health, selfless giving can make you feel way better than you might think.
He tells Elite Daily,
You know that feeling you get when someone is truly grateful for something you did for them? That feeling you get when you make someone smile, or double over with laughter? That’s what we’re going for here.
It doesn’t need to be anything over the top, but going out of your way to be the light in someone’s day can help bring some light to yours as well.
So, say you haven't talked to your mom in a week or so; give her a call to let her know you've been thinking about her. If you have a few dollars to spare, pick up the tab on someone else's coffee order. By making others happy, you'll feel better about yourself as a person overall.
3. Create A Jar Of Positive Affirmations And Pull One Out Every Day
Remember that sweet boyfriend who made a jar of affirmations for his girlfriend who was struggling with a mental illness? We can all learn a thing or two from that guy.
Stacy Kaiser, Live Happy editor at large and licensed psychotherapist, suggests cutting up anywhere from 25 to 30 slips of colored paper, and writing a series of happy thoughts on them.
"The thoughts should include things that make you smile," she tells Elite Daily. "Such as kind words about yourself, great memories from the past, or ideas of things that you can do that day to bring you joy, such as taking a walk, baking cookies, or reading a great book."
The concept behind the jar is to always have a positive affirmation at the ready whenever you're stuck in a slump.
4. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
For the record, this is not me directing you to toss out that pint of Ben and Jerry's in the back of your freezer. I am an advocate for balance, friends, but there's no getting around the fact that when we eat better, we feel better, both physically and mentally.
Rita Milios, a licensed clinical social worker and an expert author for Pro Corner on Recovery.org, tells Elite Daily that fresh foods like "fruits, beans, vegetables, and whole grains provide energy and help prevent blood sugar dips that can cause mental fogginess and feelings of anxiety."
So do not, I repeat do not feel like the only way to be happy is to only eat broccoli and kale and swear off all sweets for good. Trust me, chocolate defines happiness in my book. You should, however, nourish your body with the nutrients it deserves, because it'll definitely help you feel more energized and refreshed in the long run.
5. Meditate For At Least 10 Minutes Every Day
I promise I'm not trying to sound like a stereotypical yogi or anything, but for real, meditation has the power to dramatically change your life and your attitude about living it.
The sad truth is that half the time we take to "pamper" ourselves, we're hardly ever fully present in that moment. For instance, while you may have taken a lovely bubble bath last night, chances are you uploaded a photo of Lush's latest bath bomb to your Insta story and continued scrolling through your feed, rather than fully enjoying the colorful bubbles, the delicious scent, and the momentary escape from reality.
A little quality "me time" is crucial for achieving genuine happiness, and in order to grant yourself that time, you need to unplug and separate your internal self form the external world.
In the blog post How Can I Find Happiness If Life Won't Let Me?, Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe explored this subject:
Internally, the habitual patterns, or our conditioning, can sometimes be very strong. So we may naturally have a restless mind or frequently feel frustrated, irritated, sad, critical and so on.
We might mistakenly believe this to be who we are or the sum total of the mind, forgetting that thoughts and feelings are simply on the surface of the mind.
According to Putting the 'app' in Happiness, a 2016 study performed by the University of East London, people who downloaded the Headspace app in order to increase their level of happiness showed a nearly 30 percent decrease in depressive symptoms, and an approximate seven percent increase in positive emotions.
When external events or negative emotions consume you, meditation allows you to step into a safe space that's quiet enough for your thoughts to sort themselves out, and your anxieties to melt away with each breath.
6. Practice Gratitude By Listing Three Things You Love About Yourself
I know you might be on the other side of the screen thinking, "Here she goes with that positive reinforcement stuff again." But trust me, it really, really works.
Oftentimes when we find ourselves stuck in a rut or in a particularly bad mood, we're focusing on something that's missing from our lives. There may be a grocery list of things you don't have, or that you want, but for every absence, there's something equally as wonderful in our lives filling the gap.
Jamie Price, a wellness expert and co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, tells Elite Daily that listing at least three positive things you love about yourself or are grateful for allows you to deliberately focus on gratitude, which "helps you to be more resilient and optimistic when life throws you a curveball."
7. Step Away From The Technology
As much as millennials are obsessed with social media, I think we're pretty much all aware that it's a time-suck, causes major FOMO, and can just put you in a really crappy mood overall. Sometimes you need to take a break from social media to remind yourself what really matters in life because, trust me, it's not that viral cat video you've watched a thousand times in the last five minutes.
Dr. Jennifer Turgiss, vice president of Behavior Science and Advanced Analytics at Johnson & Johnson, tells Elite Daily that when you're constantly on your computer or smartphone, taking what she refers to as a "microburst" of short exercise throughout the work day can give your mental and physical state a well-deserved reset.
Set an achievable goal for yourself, such as 'I’m going to walk up and down a flight of stairs.' Just five minutes at a time with brisk movement delivers great benefits.
To ensure you find the time to enjoy microbursts throughout the day, set an alert on your phone or your calendar for every 60 minutes. And don’t worry if your alarm goes off at an inopportune moment; you can wait to find another minute or two when you can take a break from work and focus on yourself.