This post was originally posted in August 13th, 2014. We think it is so important that we need to share it again today! What if I told you there were seven activities you could add to your daily routine to lead you towards a healthier, and happier life? Would you try it if it meant only spending a couple of minutes each day and making very minor changes to your routine? I dare you to try it for one week and let me know how you feel at the end. Here is the list of 7 Steps to Increase Happiness.
Exercise does not have to mean going to the gym for an hour, or going for a 5k run. Trying doing a 7 minute workout each day; seven minutes is long enough to get your endorphins pumping, but short enough that it will not affect your daily routine. That’s not to say that you should not exercise more than seven minutes each day, but it is a good start.
There was a study discussed in a book called “The Happiness Advantage” written by Shawn Achor. In this study, there were three groups of patients treated for depression with medication, exercise or a combination of the two. Although all three groups experienced improvements in their levels of happiness at the beginning, their long-term states were radically different.
The groups were tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. 38 percent of the people who took the medication alone slipped back into depression. 31 percent of those in the combination group relapsed. The biggest surprise was the exercise group’s relapse rate; it was only 9 percent!
Anyone can benefit from exercise; it helps you relax, increases your brain power, and improve your body image, even if your actual appearance does not change, how you feel about your body does change.
When we sleep our body recovers from the day and repair itself, which will help us focus and be more productive. Not only this, but sleep is also important for happiness. We know that sleep helps our body recover from the day and repair itself and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out sleep is also important for happiness.
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explained how sleep affects our positivity in the book NutureShock. In an experiment, sleep-deprived college students were asked to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81% of the words with a negative connotation, but they could only remember 31% of the words with a positive or neutral connotation.
Lack of sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. How well and long you sleep will also affect how you feel when you wake up, which in turn will make a difference to your whole day.
One of the key factors in people who struggle with depression is that they feel lonely. When struggling with depression one of the best things you can do is get out of the house and go visit a friend. Go for coffee, go out for dinner, go mini putting! Go do something with someone to distract yourself.
One of the top five regrets of dying is not staying in touch with family and friends. Research proves that it can be beneficial to you, and make you happier. Even introverts will find that having social time is highly valuable.
4. Fresh Air
In the book Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor tells us that spending time outside in the fresh air will improve your happiness. In fact, one study found that spending twenty minutes outside on a day with good weather not only boosted positive mood, but also broadened thinking and improved individual’s working memory.
A change in scenery can change one’s perspectives. It is like taking a step back from a problem; it makes things so much more clear and helps you appreciate other possibilities.
So how can we fit this into our busy schedules? Eat lunch outside, walk to the grocery store instead of driving, drink your coffee in the morning on the porch!
Did you know that when you smile it releases a chemical into your brain to tell you that you are happy? Try it. Smile. Not a fake toothy smile, but one that reaches the depths of your eyes.
Michigan State University did a study that suggested that those who fake smiled had worse days then those who smiled as a result of positive thinking. Those who genuinely smiled improved their mood and where less withdrawn.
Not only does smiling make us feel good, but it can improve our attention and help us perform better when it comes to cognitive tasks.
6. Be Thankful
I am sure you have seen the hundreds of different thankfulness or gratitude challenges across social media. As much as this could be a fad, there is a lot of truth in the concept!
Being thankful will make a huge difference when it comes to your outlook. There are tons of ways to practice simple gratitude; keep a journal, start a blog, or share these things with your friend or family member. Going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you will also help you. Not only will you be influencing your happiness, but you will be influencing others! Does not everyone like to see others become happy?
The Journal of Happiness studies tells us that 219 men and woman participated in a study where they wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period. This resulting in increasing the participants’ happiness levels and life satisfaction while at the same time decreasing depressive symptoms!
7. Find a Purpose
How do you feel after a day that you have done nothing? How do you feel after a day that you accomplished a lot of things? Nine times out of ten you will feel more positively towards your day had a purpose.
Finding a purpose can be short-term and long-term! Start by picking three things you want to accomplish today. It gives your day a purpose and drives you to be productive!
You need to get to know yourself. Find out what makes you tick. Do you like helping people? Find a volunteer position at a local soup group. Do you like playing hockey? Join a hockey team or coach a mini league!
Make a bucket list! Make a list of things you want to do in the next five years. People are driven by their purpose. Take some time and figure out what that is for you; then do it.
Don’t take my word for it though! Try it out. Let me know how it goes below in the comments!