From an early age, we are encouraged to be happy, to laugh, to smile and to feel good. Interestingly, however, defining happiness is almost impossible. This is partly due to the fact that every person experiences happiness in a different way. At the same time, it is also a fact that rates of depression, stress, and anxiety are rising. As such, whatever the definition of happiness may be, it is also a fact that many people aren’t happy anymore. So what are some of the things you can do in order to be happy, or at least happier?
1. Go Outside, Often
Mother Nature has provided us with everything we need to sustain ourselves and to be happy and healthy inside and out. She has given us food and she has given us medicine. Yet we seem to spend almost all our time cooped up inside. It is no wonder, looking at it that way, that we feel unhappy. We are detached from our natural environment. If you want to feel better, spend time outside.
Living near green spaces is associated with better mental health, and even just looking at images of nature scenes can stimulate the parts of your brain associated with happiness, positivity, and emotional stability.
Also remember that sunshine increases our level of vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins our body needs. The link between vitamin D deficiency (present, by the way, in 60% of the population in this country) and depression has now also been proven.
2. Don’t Insist on the Best
It is believed that one of the reasons why we are so stressed and anxious, is because we push ourselves too far. We want to achieve perfection, but the reality is that perfection doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist in the workplace, it doesn’t exist in relationships, it doesn’t exist in life. If you lower your standards to a level that is achievable, you will instantly become happier.
Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
3. Show Appreciation for Others
Numerous books have been written about the ‘Law of Attraction’ and other such ideas. Essentially, it means that you get back what you give out. If you show appreciation, for instance by writing a thank you note, to someone else, you will see the positive effect this has on them. In turn, it will make you feel better as well.
Writing thank-you notes (or just a nice letter) was an effective method of increasing happiness and life satisfaction. Handwritten letters are also a great way to start the process of reciprocity.
Very simply put: if you make someone else happy, you will make yourself happy as well.
4. Choose to Be Happy
This is perhaps the most important thing of all. You have to make a conscious decision to allow yourself to be happy. We are far too critical of ourselves, and often feel like we don’t deserve happiness. We feel guilty because others are worse off than us, but we feel equally guilty for feeling bad, because others in worse situations seem to be happier. You must stop equating your right to happiness with that of someone else’s. Everybody has the right to be happy, choose it for yourself.
Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit…. Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.