You know those people who always seem to have a smile on their face, a bounce in their step, and something to feel sunshine-y about? I’ve always admired those people—and one day I decided to stop simply wishing and see if I could become one myself.
In my experience, this is all about finding what works for you. There isn’t a formula for happiness, everyone has different things that make them happy. With that said, there are a few things that universally brighten up everyone’s day, and when made habit, can really improve your quality of life.
1. Follow a Routine
Having practices in your life that you can count on to be part of your everyday can make you feel more stable and less anxious. Knowing that you’ll have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, or having a playlist you listen to in the morning can help you cement positive pathways into your daily experience of life.
For example, it’s not a “challenge” to eat fresh fruit with breakfast if it’s just part of your routine! These little things sound simple, but having predictable, pleasurable elements in your life can help you feel more comfortable taking risks and being spontaneous in other ways.
2. Exercise…Every day
Now this may sound a little excessive, but I don’t mean do a HIIT workout and lift weights every day. That can be part of your exercise routine a few days a week too, but just making sure you’re moving enough every day makes a huge impact on your mood and your bodily health.
Even if it’s just a walk around the block or a ten-minute Sun Salutation, take a little time every day to focus on yourself, check in with what’s going on inside your body, and get those endorphins up.
3. Go Outside
Even if it’s freezing cold or pouring rain, going outside just for ten minutes a day significantly reduces your risk of depression and reduces your current stress level. Take some time to get some rays, feel the breeze on your face…even if you go outside in the cold just to feel even cozier when coming back inside, heading into the great outdoors at least once a day is a guaranteed mood boost.
4. Talk to a Friend
Even for introverts, isolation can be one of the biggest contributors to overall unhappiness. In fact, a recent study showed that social isolation can be even deadlier than obesity—loneliness is actually bad for your health!
Whether it’s on the phone, in person, for five minutes, or an hours-long gab session, people need to talk to each other more. It makes you feel more connected to the world around you, more grounded in your own life, and reminds you that you are loved and that people are thinking about you.
5. Eat Food that is good for you
While the cheeseburger and fries may taste delicious and make us feel happy in the short term, we’re all familiar with that bloated, sluggish, slightly nauseous feeling that comes afterward.
Eating a balanced diet that’s full of the right macronutrients, is low in sugar, and gives you enough energy to do everything you want to do during the day is essential to a consistently more buoyant mood. You won’t get peaks and crashes in mood, and a good diet contributes to increased long-term health and physical performance.
Make healthy eating a part of your routine, and it’ll become an automatic, fulfilling part of your improved mood and positive lifestyle
6. Get Enough Sleep
This is one aspect of a healthy life that I’ve been in denial about for a long time, but have recently come to terms with; every time I call my mom on the phone and I’m venting about feeling frustrated or out of control of my life or overwhelmed, she asks me, “Are you tired?”, and the answer is always ‘yes’.
Whenever I’ve experienced a low period or a mood disruption, it’s also always accompanied by sleep pattern disruption. I think they contribute to each other, but the fact remains that getting enough sleep at the right times for your body is essential to feeling your best, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
7. Ask For What You Need
To really work on sustained health and happiness, you have to check in with yourself. What do you need, physically? Do you need to go on a run and shake off a restless or sluggish mood, or do you need to rest because your hip is hurting? Do you need a restful yoga practice or a fiery power yoga class?
This goes for emotional needs too. Once you’ve identified what you need in your life (professionally, romantically, or other realm of personal growth) by conversing with and listening to yourself, only then can you communicate it to other people. And only if you can communicate it to other people will anyone ever be able to know and give you what you need.
So, healthy and open communication with all parts of yourself can open up another dimension of happiness and satisfaction in your life—even if it’s hard.
Making these habits an integrated part of your life can really change it for the better. Change may be slow and imperceptible at first; it takes constant mental effort and mindfulness, and you may revert back to unhealthy habits or slip up once in a while. What’s important is recognizing that health and happiness are always a process, and that they’re worth working for.