Americans are the unhappiest that they’ve been in nearly 50 years, according to a recent poll. The 2020 poll found that only 14% of Americans said that they were ‘very happy,’ which is a pretty steep drop when compared to 31% of Americans who said they were ‘very happy’ in 2018.
While there’s no denying that 2020 was certainly a challenging year for a number of reasons, the good news is that it’s still possible to achieve happiness in your life – even if happiness might feel out of your reach at the moment. That’s because happiness is understandable, obtainable, and teachable. So, let’s take a closer look at five happiness tips that can help you turn that frown upside down.
5 Tips For Finding Happiness
Happiness Tip #1: Identify What Makes You Feel Good & Happy
The first step toward a happier life is to figure out the things in your life that bring you the most joy. Positive psychology experts have determined that money, friends, health, living conditions, neighborhood, spirituality, community involvement, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life are some key areas that seem to be more related to personal happiness. People who are satisfied with these areas of their lives tend to be happier in general. However, it’s important to note that being dissatisfied with some of these areas won’t necessarily lead to a life of unhappiness.
So, if you’re someone who is motivated by money and is always counting down the days until payday, rather than just wanting to ‘earn more money,’ go ahead and actually set a number that you want to earn for the month, quarter, or year and then make reaching that precise number your goal. If that exact number isn’t obtainable at the moment through your day job, you can either ask for a raise or extra hours at work, or start a side hustle to supplement your income. Once you achieve your goal and earn the amount of money that you were planning on at the end of the month, quarter, or year, evaluate how you feel. Do you truly feel happier now that you earned more money?
Evaluating yourself honestly is extremely important, especially since a famous 2010 study determined that participants with higher incomes reported higher emotional well-being up to an annual income of $75,000. A recent study also found that the turning point for financial happiness is an income of $85,000. People earning less than that amount are less happy on average, while those earning over $85,000 are happier, according to the study. Research has found that people in the highest income bracket are about 3.5% happier than average, as well.
So, while there is some correlation between money and happiness, we also know that money can’t buy happiness. In fact, research has found that consumerism is the biggest suppressant of happiness around the world. That’s why you need to truly assess the things in your life that bring you joy – not what societal expectations tell you about joy. To make sure that you’re not getting caught up in the idea of what you think will make you happy, evaluate the most important areas of your life and determine how happy you are in each category. Then focus your attention on one category that you feel needs the most improvement.
By focusing on one category at a time, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Once you make noticeable improvements in that first area, and have created good habits in your everyday life, make sure to celebrate your achievement and reward yourself! Then, if you’d like to work on improving another area of your life, feel free.
Happiness Tip #2: Train Your Brain To Be Happy
Your attitude about life and the things that happen to you each day can greatly impact your overall level of happiness and life satisfaction. While there’s a lot of debate and conflicting research in regard to whether your happiness comes from nature or nurture, one study that included more than 2,000 pairs of identical twins determined that it’s almost exactly 50% nature and 50% nurture. The study concluded that 50% of a person’s happiness is decided by their genetics, and the other half is influenced 10% by their environment (the job that they have, where they live, etc.) and the remaining 40% is influenced by the way that they think.
While you have zero input when it comes to your genes, you do have control over your thoughts. Positive thinking can make you happy, while negative thinking can make you unhappy. Therefore, to become a happier, more positive person, work on training your brain to think more positively than negatively.
And since your brain can produce both happy and unhappy thoughts, it’s important to recognize and replace the negative thoughts that you have. For example, instead of saying, ‘I can’t do this!’ in regard to a particular task. Focus on the steps that you can take to complete the task. Then once you have a plan in place, say, ‘I can and I will do this!’ in order to turn your negative thought into a positive one.
Happiness Tip #3: Surround Yourself With People Who Make You Happy
A study found that happy people tend to be connected to one another, and people who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to become happy in the future. The study determined that if you have a nearby friend (living within a mile of you) who becomes happy, the odds of you also becoming happy increases by 25%. And if your spouse is happy, the probability that you’ll become happy increases by 8%, as well.
Another study concluded that the mid-life well-being of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom they see regularly. Having regular contact with 10 or more friends had a significant impact on a person’s happiness levels, while people who had fewer friends reported lower levels of happiness, according to the study.
People who regularly spend about six or seven hours each day socializing with family and friends are also 12 times as likely to report feeling joyful rather than feeling stressed or anxious.
Happiness Tip #4: Create Happiness Habits
Happiness isn’t a gift that you receive, but rather an emotion that you create and cultivate. That’s why it’s so important for you to create happiness habits that will cultivate greater well-being in your everyday life. So, here are five daily happiness habits that will promote happiness in both the short- and long-term.
Treasure Gratitude: Grateful people have been shown to have greater positive emotion, a greater sense of belonging, and a lower incidence of depression and stress. One way that you can practice gratitude on a daily basis is to create a daily gratitude list or keep a gratitude journal. By keeping a daily gratitude list or a gratitude journal, you’ll start noticing everything that you have to be thankful for each and every day. This can help you focus on the positive in your life rather than the negative.
Find Your Flow: Whenever you’re actively involved in trying to reach a goal, you’ll experience a joyful state called, ‘flow.’ The experience of flow in both professional and leisure activities can lead to increased positive affect, performance, and commitment to long-term, meaningful goals. You can produce the experience of flow through many kinds of activities such as playing sports or an instrument, creating art, or teaching.
Practice Self-Care: Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking. That’s why it’s crucial for you to get enough quality sleep each night and move your body every day.
When it comes to sleep, research has found that sleep-deprived people have a harder time remembering positive ideas, and an easier time remembering negative ideas. A study of sleep-deprived college students found that students remembered 81% of negative words and only 31% of positive words.
Regular exercise has been associated with improved mental well-being and lower incidence of depression since exercise releases proteins and endorphins that make your brain feel happier. Taking a 20-minute walk outside in good weather can boost your mood, broaden your thinking, and improve your working memory.
Perform Acts Of Kindness: To achieve greater happiness in life, it’s recommended that we spend at least two hours each week or 100 hours each year actively helping the people in our community. That’s because people who volunteer or care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed. You can either volunteer as a part of an organized group or a club, or even do random acts of kindness for others on your own.
Seek Wonder: Studies have found that people who experience a sense of awe tend to have lower stress and greater feelings of satisfaction. Staying curious about the world around you will increase your chances of having awe-inspiring experiences. So, try to learn new things whenever you can and really focus on living in the moment.
Happiness Tip #5: Nurture What Makes You Happy
Once you know what truly makes you feel happy, do small things every day to nurture your happiness. It can be buying fresh flowers to brighten up your place, spending quality time with your children, or saying ‘yes’ to a spontaneous opportunity.
Anything that helps you feel more joyful and positive is self-nurturing, and nurturing yourself will lead to a happier, healthier you. So, go ahead and “Do What Makes You Feel Good” today, and every other day!
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