12 Steps to a happier life
In my pursuit of happiness I’ve realized that it doesn’t necessarily require huge life changes, but instead can be achieved by small changes and new habits. The following are just some of the things I’ve tried to implement in my life in an effort to increase my level of happiness. I hope some of them will speak to you in a way that inspires your own happiness journey!
- Take technology breaks. We are a society of device addicts, and I am definitely not immune to the infliction, but I do believe we could stand a break. For some that might mean shutting your phone off when you get home from work, putting devices away while you have a family meal and connect with the kids, or maybe banning devices a few hours before bed and reading a book instead. For others it could mean a social media fast for a day, a weekend, a week… maybe a month? There is no right or wrong, just whatever feels right for you!
- Make a conscious effort to connect with others. And no I don’t mean on social media! Don’t get me wrong, that certainly has it’s benefits too, but what I’m really talking about is face to face interactions. Join a club or a sports team, take a fitness class or take a class doing something creative! Open yourself up to others with similar interests to you and you could find yourself making some new friends, something we can find more difficult to do as adults.
- Disconnect from toxic people and relationships. This one can be a tough one, but it’s imperative to preserve your own happiness and mental health. Sometimes this can even mean distancing yourself from a family member, and that’s ok too. Don’t feel guilty about protecting yourself from toxic people, no matter their relationship to you, caring for your mental health is far too important.
- Listen to music! Create playlists of your favorite songs. I have a habit of discovering a new song and blasting it on repeat while I drive, clean or just dance. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, enjoy it!
- Stop exposing yourself to negative media. Take for example today’s obsession with “reality tv”, is it just me or do these seem like the furthest thing from reality? At the very least not a reality I want to live in where everyone is fighting, criticizing and belittling each other. Although there is sure to be exceptions to the rule, it seems that reality tv glorifies the lowest of human behaviours and accentuates the disconnect in our society. Unfollow those who constantly post negative messages and false news, you don’t need that in your life. Why not find some positive social media influences and follow them instead, there are plenty of people who are on the same journey of self discovery as you.
- Stop glorifying busyness. Our culture is infamous for this, and unfortunately even more so as women. In our society we tend to measure our self worth by how busy we are and how stressful our schedules have become. I don’t know about you but this is how I have lived for years and I am exhausted. Let’s stop glorifying busyness and slow down a little. Stop overscheduling our children, stop saying yes to every bloody thing you are asked to do, and start making down time a priority in your life.
- Feel all of your feelings, every last one of them. Acknowledge that it is not possible to feel constantly happy. Relationships can be difficult, work can be stressful, life is and ebb and flow of emotions and experiences and that is ok. It’s ok to be sad sometimes, to be angry, to feel down. Acknowledge those feelings, feel them, work through them and then let them go. Remember that without the darkness we would never appreciate the light.
- Have fun! Be silly and incorporate some kind of play into every day. You can play with your kids or your pets, take a fun class, or put on your favorite playlist and just dance! So many of us stop playing when we grow up, isn’t that sad? Not everything needs to be so serious, just lighten up!
- Laugh!! Nothing perks up your mood like a good belly laugh. Put on a funny movie, watch some funny you tube clips, read a funny book or reminisce about funny experiences in your own life. Whatever tickles your funny bone make sure you’re laughing every day… this is a big one!
- Enjoy nature. I know, I know… it’s Canada and winter makes this one difficult. In those cold months try to get out as much as you can, at the very least crack the windows for a few minutes to let in some fresh air. And once the snow melts get out there and enjoy it all! Get your bare feet on the grass, in the dirt or, my personal favorite, on that glorious sandy beach! Sit quietly and observe the animals around us, they are the ultimate inspiration to live a simple life. Go for a walk in the park and listen to the sounds of nature, take a bike ride, dig in your garden or flower beds. Just get out there in whatever way speaks to you.
- Be kind to yourself. Stop the constant self criticism and instead try complimenting yourself. Stop comparing yourself to unrealistic social media images… the majority of us don’t really look like that. And remember that nobody’s life is as perfect as what we see posted online. We all really just want to be loved and accepted, and that begins with love and acceptance of ourselves and who we are right now.
- Consider ways to simplify your life. Minimalism is not just about decluttering your home and reducing your purchases, although this is a big part of it. Minimalism is ultimately about stripping away the excess of everything that does not bring value to your life including possessions, relationships, activities and beliefs. As you rid your life of the unnecessary, you will have so much more time and energy to give to your priorities in life and can finally find the kind of balance we all crave. And isn’t that what finding happiness is all about… devoting our lives to what matters and stripping away the rest?
These are some of the ideals I am working hard to implement into my own life. It isn’t always easy and I’m not always successful. Some days I feel down and I just have to sit with it until I find the energy to get back on track, and that’s ok. Just commit to implementing some of these ideas into your life and see where it takes you, make your happiness a priority.
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