How to Be Happier

Happiness is something we all strive for, but what is it exactly?

Genuine happiness is difficult to describe because joy and feeling satisfied are different for each of us. You may feel happy meeting your friends for drinks while I feel happy enjoying a quiet walk on the beach or you may enjoy a seven-course meal, but I find satisfaction in a bowl of fresh fruit.

The trick to finding happiness is to discover what brings us joy. Sometimes the clues to happier times are right in front of us, but to let the light shine on our joy tweaking our thinking and changing some of our habits may be needed. Happiness, therefore, is not a destination, it’s a discovery of and contentment with ourselves, it’s a way of life.

Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life.

– Burton Hill

Living a happier, more satisfying life is attainable. A few tweaks to your regular habits will help you get there. Let’s explore three basic ones.

Eat Yourself Happy

Give your body the right nutrients and you’ll soon feel better.

Practice mindful eating by listening to your body and giving it what it wants, when it wants it. Stick to eating pure, whole foods and splurge with an occasional treat.

Fill your tummies with:

  • Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains.  Carbs release serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone.
  • Lean meat, poultry, and legumes are high in protein. These foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy.
  • Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in folate. This nutrient helps produce dopamine which is linked to a decrease in depression.
  • Treat yourself to some healthy fats. Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, nuts, and salmon even out moods because fat slows digestion regulating blood sugar levels leaving us feeling calm and satiated.
  • Indulge in a one-inch piece of good quality dark chocolate 70% at a minimum. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production and leads to a better mood.

Recoil from Toxic Energy and Negative People

Toxic people seem to be everywhere. They’re the ones who are constantly complaining. Without knowing it, they’ll negatively influence your thoughts and suck you into their world. This wreaks havoc on your happiness so be mindful of the environment you allow yourself to be a part of. If these individuals are your co-workers or family members, they can’t be avoided so limit your time with them as best you can, don’t let yourself fall into their whirlwind of negative emotions.

While negativity is contagious so is happiness, so surround yourself with joyful people to counteract the negativity in your world.

Set boundaries with toxic people and learn to recognize your thoughts. If you fall in their trap, counteract it by using one of these tactics. One is called “yes, but” and the other “labeling.”

The “yes, but” method involves recognizing a negative thought and adding something positive to it.  For example, say “I twiddled my thumbs for an hour while trying to get my work done but I generally do a great job with my time management.”

As for the “labeling” method, acknowledge a negative thought for what it is. This helps you condition yourself to recognize toxic behaviors.

Practice Gratitude

Recognizing our little blessings and being grateful for them helps us feel happy. But of equal importance is to acknowledge our sadness and disappointments.

As humans, we experience a range of emotions. When negative things come your way, don’t pretend you’re happy and don’t stay in a funk too long. Embrace all your emotions be they good or uncomfortable and be grateful for them. Remember that light can’t exist without darkness.

Focus on the good and appreciate the little things, savor the moment and keep it in your heart.

A simple way to stay filled with happiness is to revisit your joyous moments. To help you remember them, write each one in a journal, yes, we’re talking about the ever-popular gratitude journal. By writing each event in a journal, even if it’s a fleeting thought that made you smile, it will cement joy in your heart and mind because what you write gets imprinted on your mind, not only onto paper or on a screen. And when you’re feeling down and out, read from your journal. Revisiting all the wonderful things life gifted you with is a great way to leave sadness behind and put a smile on your face.

Practicing gratitude is essential to a happy life. As you wake everyday promise yourself, you’ll focus on the good. The more you do this, the better you’ll be at appreciating all your wonderful blessings.

Happiness is a choice. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.

– Ralph Marston

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