You’ve heard the saying “happiness is a choice.” Although I don’t believe in it entirely, there is some truth to it. I believe you will have a much greater *chance* of happiness if you are born into a privileged life (food in your belly, a roof over your head, clothes on your back, free from financial stress and strain) . But I do believe that everyone can take small steps to start implementing happiness into their lives through habits. Contrary to what you may believe, happiness is not something that just happens by itself. You have to work for it, practice it, and be consistent with it.
What is a habit?
Before you learn about the 5 habits to add happiness to your life, you need to understand what exactly a habit is. Click here to read my take on how to start a new habit.
Not all habits are equal. They can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Some habits, such as smoking, are widely seen as ‘bad’ because of the impact they can have on our health. Other habits, such as meditation, are widely accepted as ‘good’ habits.
There are three parts involved in forming any habit: cue, action, and reward. The cue is what triggers the habit. It can be an emotion, a time of day, or an external factor like seeing your favorite coffee shop on the way to work. The action is what you do because of that cue, for example, buying a coffee in the morning. Finally, there’s the reward—what you get out of doing that action. In this scenario, it could be the caffeine hit from drinking your coffee. Once you identify the cycle of your habits, it becomes easier to change them.
Habits for happiness
Overtime habits become routine, they become habitual. The longer you practice a habit for, the more hardwired it is in your brain. This is true of any habit. Think about it, next time you tie your shoe laces, take note of which shoe lace you tie first. This is a habit that started to form when you first learnt to tie your shoes. Chances are, if you change this up one day and tie your right shoe before your left shoe, you may feel a slight sense of discomfort because your habit has changed. But if you carried the new habit on, eventually it would replace the old habit. Here are my 5 habits for happiness.
1. Don’t make it a habit to get caught up in comparisons on social media
The first thing to remember is that social media is not real life. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others, but it can be very detrimental to your mental health as well. You don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life. Don’t try to make assumptions based on what you see online.
2. Try and make it one of your habits to go outside every day
Get outside every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, it’ll help you feel better about yourself and improve your mental health overall. You don’t have to go far; just take a break from your surroundings for a short period. Go for a walk, ride your bike or take a stroll through the park with your friends. Spending time in nature positively impacts your mood and wider mental health.
3. Make time for happy habits
Make time to do the things that bring you joy and happiness. For example, if playing with your dog is something that makes you happy, then make sure you have a chance to play with them every day! If watching TV is an activity that brings joy into your life, then set aside an hour or two when this can happen—even if it’s just on Netflix after work or binge watching The Office with your partner.
A good idea is to start scheduling activities which make you happy like you would do a meeting at work. Mark 6pm-7pm, or whenever works best for you, in your diary as “something that makes me happy”. That way, you’re not restricting yourself to stick to one certain activity that brings you happiness, but you have an hour to do something that sparks joy.
The point is: find out what makes YOU happy and dedicate some time each week to doing these things because they’ll make YOUR life happier in turn!
4. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
Gratitude is a way of life. It’s a way of being and it is a sure fire way to make you happier, healthier, more productive, and more successful at whatever you do in life.
“The secret to happiness lies within us.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Gratitude is the key ingredient for success; it helps us to identify what we already have instead of focusing on what’s missing from our lives. When we are grateful for what we have now instead of complaining about what could be different, then we begin to notice more things around us that make us happy. Happiness starts by appreciating what we are already happy and grateful for.
5. Show kindness and empathy
Empathy has the power to make us happier in our daily lives.
Empathy is a powerful force, and it can be used to improve our relationships with others and ourselves. When we can empathize with others, we can see things from their perspective, which helps us understand their struggles and feel less alone in our lives. It also helps us connect with them on a deeper level, which can lead to greater compassion and kindness.
You can’t have happiness without sadness
It’s important to understand that being happy 100% of the time is not only unlikely, it’s impossible. How do you know what happiness feels like if you have never experienced sadness? You need to be able to handle both at the same time. When you can do this, then your life will feel like it’s working out for you—not just the good parts but also those tough moments that make us human.
When you’re going through a tough situation and come out on top, it’s more likely that you’ll feel confident in your ability to handle anything else that comes your way. You’ll also begin to understand that there is more happiness in store for you just around the corner.
If you can remember these five habits and start implementing them in your life, you’ll see that your happiness is actually within reach. It’s time for a change. So, what are you waiting for?