Have you ever wondered why you just can’t be happy—especially when things are going relatively or even very well in your life? Or, maybe you’re happy sometimes or even most of the time, but want to up your happiness quotient. While we can’t be happy all of the time—what would happiness even mean if we were?—there are ways that we can elevate how we feel in any given moment, on any given day.
Did you know that:
- Once basic needs are met, more money does not bring more happiness.
- People whose basic values are money, image and status are less satisfied, more depressed, more anxious and less vital than those whose values are personal growth, having close relationships and concern for others’ well-being.
- The country of Bhutan tracks the Gross National Happiness of its people and considers it more important than its Gross National Product.
The positive psychology movement is only about 20 years old and was developed to scientifically study and enhance positive human psychology. Positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubominsky conducted research that point to 12 things you can do to increase your levels of happiness.
Express gratitude. Gratitude is the secret to life. Count your blessings daily.
Cultivate optimism. Life has its ups and downs. It’s important to remember when you’re down that you’ll be up again. And maybe, just maybe, you will learn a deep life lesson from the adversity.
Avoid overthinking and social comparison. You’ve been given a good mind, but overthinking usually leads to circular negative thinking. What’s the alternative? Acceptance of what is.
Practice acts of kindness. Practicing kind acts is the best way to get out of your own way. And it produces serotonin.
Nurture social relationships. People with strong social relationships live longer. We are social beings, and we need to be interconnected.
Develop strategies for coping. This is different from overthinking; it’s about coming up with creative alternatives and developing resilience.
Learn to forgive. This is a tricky one. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, and it doesn’t mean that what has happened to you was okay. Forgiveness is about acceptance of the reality of what happened and freeing yourself from toxic anger and bitterness.
Increase flow experiences. Aaah, flow: the experience of being completely in the moment. The vehicle for getting into the flow can be most anything. It can be found through sex, being creative, being fully engaged in a project or feeling deeply into your senses.
Savor life’s joys. This one is a blending of gratitude and flow—of taking the time to give and receive pleasure.
Commit to your goals. Discover a purpose. Find what is deeply important to you and pursue it.
Practice spirituality. Connect to yourself and something greater than yourself—whether it is a higher power,the Redwoods, love or connection to all living beings.
Take care of your body. Care for what houses your intellect, your emotions, your sensations and your essence.
By practicing these 12 simple acts, you may be able to experience more joy, fulfillment and connection in your life, naturally upping your happiness quotient. What simple acts do you engage in that bring you happiness? What is your go-to when you feel particularly down? Is it nature, yoga, a friend? We’d love to hear what you do—or wish you did more of—to live a happy life.