You can have the career of your dreams, the relationship you’ve always wanted, and even have health, but still be unhappy. How can this be? Happiness means different things for different people. While I may take joy in the quiet moments, you may get more energy and happiness from socializing. Despite these little differences, there are certain areas of our lives that we can adjust and make immediate changes to in order to feel more joy on a daily basis.
Here are just 5 simple things that may improve your overall happiness:
- 1. Get more sleep. When we aren’t well rested, our bodies produce stress hormones. This is part of the reason we are so testy and short-tempered when we haven’t slept enough. Many people hack into their sleep time when they have a lot to get done, but at least 7 hours of quality sleep should take priority over your to-do list. Without sleep, you won’t be able to check off the items as done anyway.
- 2. Quit smoking. As reported by the Daily Mail, a study of adolescents found that those who don’t smoke are five times more happy than those who do. The main issue with this, though, is if smoking triggers unhappiness or if there are other correlations to consider. But this isn’t the only research to find smoking makes us unhappy. It could be the psychology of addiction or the many toxins within cigarettes, but despite the belief of addicts that smoking reduces stress, it can truly impact your happiness. Further, smoking increases blood pressure, synonymous with stress and no-doubt linked to how it affects your feelings of joy.
- 3. Plan a trip. You don’t have to take a vacation to reap the benefits of stepping outside of your geographic comfort zone. A study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that the highest state of happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation. The researchers noted, “the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.” Once the vacation was over and done, happiness levels stabilized.
For more tips on feeling better, check out my previous post outlining 5 scientifically-supported ways to achieve happiness.
- 4. Meditate. Meditation isn’t just for monks or yogis. It’s for everyone, and studies have shown the mental benefits of meditation are significant. Only 30 minutes of meditation each day can cut your risk of depression recurrence by 50%.
- 5. Shorten your commute. Many people spend hours in their car each day in the trips to and from work. This time isn’t only non-productive, it’s extremely stressful. According to Collective Evolution, two Swiss economists looked at the effects of commuting and happiness and found living in the suburbs in a big house, for instance, couldn’t curb the stress related to the long commute. In other words, it might be better for your mental health to settle for something closer to work.
We all make choices throughout our days to make ourselves happy. But it could be that we are mistaking instantaneous satisfaction (like the feeling of a sweet snack out of the vending machine) for true health and joy.
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