by Bronwyn Slater
There are many things we can do to increase our happiness and satisfaction in life. I’ve tried to come up with the top 10 things that have helped me feel happier. I hope you find them useful!
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Meditation increases happiness by reducing stress and anxiety and improving the ability to deal with life’s challenges. You should set aside 15-30 minutes each day for your practice – the benefits accumulate over time. Check out this introduction to meditation here.
- Eat a Plant-Based Whole Food Vegan Diet
Cut down on processed foods, sugary drinks and treats, oils, white flour and alcohol. Keep your diet centred around fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Knowing that no animal had to suffer or die in order to put food on your plate will give you a feeling of happiness and peace.
- Spend time in Nature
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce blood pressure as well as cortisol and adrenalin – two stress-related hormones. Being in nature helps us feel calm and serene. Think about how you feel whenever you are at a beach or in the woods – your mind feels clear and calm. Sunlight is important and allows us to absorb Vitamin D which is important for health.
Donate some of your free time to a charity or cause you feel strongly about. It will bring you into contact with other like-minded people. People who volunteer have been shown to have higher self-esteem and overall well-being. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
- Find a job or project that you love
Many people are stuck in a job they don’t get any satisfaction from. Find what you are passionate about and try to make a career out of it. But don’t quit your day job until you are sure you have a solid, proven plan! Check out this advice from Forbes.
- Practise gratitude
Think about the good things in your life. Feeling grateful for them makes you feel happy. Think about the people in your life you are grateful for and how your life would be without them. Make a list of the fortunate circumstances in your life.
- Have goals
Scientific research shows that having achievable, realistic and not overly-ambitious goals increases happiness by giving us a sense of purpose and achievement. Progress on our goals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life.
- Take up gardening
Gardening is good for your health and relieves depression. Getting your hands dirty in the garden can increase your serotonin levels. According to research, contact with a soil bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae triggers the release of serotonin in our brain. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system.
- Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of depression and mood disorders, as well as other serious health risks. The US National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aged 26-64 should get 7-9 hours sleep per night. One study suggests that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for your daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise.
- If you are interested in reading more on this topic check out the Greater Good Science Centre who have lots of scientific studies on happiness.
- The Action for Happiness organisation in the UK have a good happiness newsletter and have info on how to organise your own local eight week happiness course.
- Matthieu Ricard’s TED talk on the habits of happiness is also enjoyable.
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