If you find yourself feeling less than satisfied with your life, it could be that you haven’t achieved those things you’ve set out to do (get a promotion, buy a big house, etc.), or it could be far simpler. Things like getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and interacting with the right people play a major role in overall happiness. Fortunately, these are things that can be easily adjusted. I gave five recommendations for boosting your happiness recently, and because it’s such an important issue, I thought I would give you five more.
Here are 5 more ways to boost your overall happiness:
- 1. Go outside. Spending time outdoors isn’t just a matter of breathing fresh air and stretching out, there are scientific reasons why going outside is good for your mental health. A lack of vitamin D (synthesized by our skin exposed to sunlight) has been linked to an increased risk of depression, for example. Further, studies have found just a few minutes spent walking in the park can reduce feelings of sadness. According to Collective Evolution and the American Meteorological Society, happiness is maximized at about 13.9° C, or 57° F. But you don’t have to wait for perfect weather to get outside for a few minutes each day.
- 2. Give up fast- and processed-foods. Study after study has shown fast foods and highly processed store-bought foods can affect your mood in a dramatically negative way. One body of research, published in Public Health Nutrition, found that people who eat fast food are 51% more likely to suffer from depression. Further, higher consumption of fruits and vegetables have continually been associated with higher life satisfaction levels.
- 3. Give back. Volunteer work improves our mood and can improve how we see ourselves. Giving back, whether through volunteering once a month at a soup kitchen or working every weekend at a community garden, can significantly increase happiness levels. The Journal of Happiness Studies even found that making a purchase for someone else can increase happiness both in the moments following and long into the future. Volunteering can even help extend your (happy) life.
Check out part 1 of this article for 5 more ways to boost happiness.
- 4. Nurture Healthy Relationships. Having positive people in your life can make you more positive and save you from wasting valuable time and energy on dysfunction. Choose your friends carefully and nurture those relationships with quality time, communication, and closeness. While you might be apt to think of online friends as your “community”, nothing compares to the benefits of face-to-face friendships.
- 5. Smile. Even before you’re happy and definitely when joy strikes: smile! Not just any smile will do, it has to be real. According to a study from Michigan State University, fast food workers who “fake smiled” throughout their day actually worsened their moods. The ones who fared best were those who smiled genuinely from a place of positive emotions and thoughts.
Happiness is a choice you make every day. Sure, you can allow the circumstances of your life to dictate your mood, but it’s much more satisfying to control your joy and ultimately your health.