How many times have you told yourself (or others) that you’ll only really be happy when you’ve fulfilled your life goals? That you’ll only be truly happy when you get a raise, or when you become the person you’ve always wanted to be? Of course, achieving your life goals and becoming rich will undoubtedly leave you feeling ecstatic – but wouldn’t it be amazing to find happiness in everyday life? Time is precious, and it is as important to be happy now as it is to be happy in the future. Here are our top ways to find happiness every day.
Gratitude is the attitude
Instead of thinking about how your future plans could make you happier, take time to truly appreciate everything you already have. Focusing on the good things you have in your life will make you realise that you already have so much to be grateful for. Buy a gratitude journal and write in it daily. When you wake up in the morning, write down three things that you are grateful for in your life. Do you have a job, a roof over your head, money to pay the bills, amazing family and friends, a loving partner? Do you have food to eat and clean water to drink? That means you’re actually better off than most people on the planet. Once you get into this mindset, you’ll probably find it hard to stop at just three things!
At bedtime, write down three things that happened that day that you are grateful for. This exercise is great because even when you think you’ve had a bad day, there will always be some positive moments. Did you appreciate the warmth of the sun on your face after weeks of freezing rain? Did you receive an unexpected discount or had your coffee paid for by a friend? Maybe you received a compliment that brightened your day, or even felt good that you could donate some money to your favourite charity? Realising what you have and appreciating when good things happen, no matter how small, will help you to be happy in the here and now.
Stop living for the weekends
Monday blues getting you down? Counting down the days until the weekend? Sure, you might have more free time at the weekends to do the things you love most, but wouldn’t it be great if you could do them all the time? Planning exciting things during the week will help you to enjoy every day and give you more to look forward to, especially when you have to spend more time doing the things you don’t love so much. Maybe on Monday night you could go out for dinner; Tuesday you could meet a friend for lunch; Wednesday night could be a trip to the cinema or theatre; and Thursday you could start planning that summer holiday. You get the idea. Even if it’s just little things like finding a gripping new TV show and you have to wait seven days to find out what happens next, or going shopping during your lunch break, make sure you always have something exciting to look forward to instead of wishing all your time away.
Oh, and don’t save anything for a special occasion – life’s simply too short. Wear your sexiest underwear, spritz on your favourite perfume and carry your most chic handbag as often as you can – you will feel amazing!
Keep your friends close
The situation is all too familiar: you bump into a friend at the supermarket and you get chatting about how it’s been too long and that you must meet soon to catch up. After promising to call, months pass by and you still haven’t arranged to meet. So instead of making vague plans, actually make arrangements as soon as you can. Seeing your favourite people regularly is sure to bring a smile to your face – and friendships are also crucial to your health.
Don’t sit around waiting for your friends to make the first move – you’ll probably find that they are waiting for you as well! Reach out to them and let them know you’d love to go for a coffee, or have them over for dinner. Even if it’s just a stroll in the park on your lunch break, find a date and time that works for you both and put it in your diary. And when you meet up, arrange your next meeting there and then so you don’t fall back into old habits.
Change your mindset
Instead of seeing a situation as boring, stressful or a waste of time, try to see it as a chance to use the time in a positive way. So instead of spending your train or bus journey people-watching or staring into space, use that time wisely by reading more of that book you are struggling to find time to read, listening to your favourite songs on your iPod, or making your to-do lists for the day. If you get stuck in traffic, instead of starting to panic about how you’re going to be late, try to see a positive. Does it mean you get a few more minutes listening to music, or admiring the scenic views around you?
Break a Sweat
Exercise releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. Exercising regularly will help to lift your mood. If the thought of setting foot in a gym bores you, find something that you will enjoy enough to do frequently. Whether it’s an exercise class, joining a netball team, swimming, yoga, walking, running or even skipping, get yourself into the habit of working up a sweat daily. For those days when you just aren’t in the mood, a quick walk along the beach, through the countryside or in the park will do wonders for your mind as well as your body.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating healthy, nutritious foods is essential in order to feel healthy and happy. However, don’t force yourself to eat something you hate just because you know it’s good for you; this will make eating feel like a chore. Experiment with recipes (we have lots of delicious ones here!) and find out which foods you enjoy the most. Knowing you have a delicious meal to look forward to will get you feeling excited about food and the day ahead. Eating loads of rubbish can make you feel, well, rubbish, so do take the time to ensure you eat properly. On the other hand, don’t feel you have to deprive yourself of anything; if you want that slice of chocolate cake then have it, and really enjoy it! Savour every mouthful and see it as the treat that it is. Balance is the key.
Never feel guilty about making time for yourself, ever. You are the most important person in your life; even if a lot of people depend on you, you can’t be there for them if you are feeling stressed out and rundown. Incorporate some me time into your daily schedule. If you aren’t used to it, it can feel strange at first but soon you won’t want to go back to your old ways! Me time can be anything you want that makes you feel happy, whether it’s going for a massage, getting your hair done, enjoying a long bath, baking a cake, going for a run, doing your nails, reading, meditating or watching your favourite film. If it helps you to relax and unwind, do it! Even if you don’t think you have enough time, make time! You don’t have to spend hours on this (although if you had a whole day off that wouldn’t be a bad thing!) – even if it’s just lying down for fifteen minutes with a face mask on before bed, it’s enough to boost your wellbeing and happiness.
If you’re not familiar with mindfulness, it involves taking the time to appreciate everything in the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. How often have you rushed around without noticing everything that’s going on around you? If you are feeling stressed, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and use all your senses to become more aware of your surroundings. What can you feel, hear, smell, see and taste? When you eat, take time to chew your food slowly, noticing the different flavours and textures. When you go outside, notice how many different sounds you can hear and how refreshing the cool breeze feels against your skin. Being more aware of the present will help you to feel more positive and relaxed. Download the Omvana or Calm apps to tune in and zone out.
Look on the bright side
Try to see a positive side to every negative event or situation. Granted, this can be tricky and sometimes you won’t realise the positive side until a while afterwards, if at all. Being more optimistic about life can help you to feel happier and calmer. Accept that life won’t always be easy, but try to believe that everything happens for a reason. Try writing down a few negative things that have happened recently and see if you can come up with ways to see them in a positive light. Did you lose your job? See it as an opportunity to make that career change you’ve always wanted. Have you been having health issues? Realise that now is the time to start living the healthier lifestyle you’ve been meaning to try. Sometimes you won’t understand why something negative has happened, but accepting it and believing that it was meant to happen can help you feel less stressed. For example, have you ever missed your train and started getting worked up about being late? Maybe that train ended up in a crash and you could have got hurt if you were on it. Try to see that some things could be a blessing in disguise.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s easy to feel down when you spend hours on social media, feeling envious at how everyone else appears to be living perfect lives. It’s easy to forget that everybody has ups and downs, it’s just that no one usually documents their bad days on Instagram. No one is perfect and no one lives the perfect life. Try not to waste time obsessing over the seemingly-idyllic lifestyles of other people and focus on making the most of your own. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake – try to learn from it and move on. If you skip cooking that super-healthy meal to order a takeaway followed by ice cream and chocolate, don’t beat yourself up about it. You are entitled to treat yourself now and again. If you oversleep on your day off when you wanted to get up early, don’t feel angry; your body obviously needed to recharge. If you put off doing the housework to go out with friends, it can wait another day. If you don’t tick off everything on your daily to-do list, don’t feel stressed – there’s always tomorrow.
Mix up your routine
It’s good to have a daily routine to make sure you stay organised, but doing the same things everyday can often lead to feelings of apathy. Making a few simple changes can help you to feel happier and even more excited to get on with your day. If you find the drive to work boring or spend it worrying about the day ahead, find a new route you could take. A change of scenery will do wonders for your mind, plus having to concentrate on the new roads will take your mind off stressing about other things. Walk your dog somewhere different, try something new for lunch or have a bath instead of a shower in the morning (this feels so indulgent!). Instead of eating lunch at your desk, get outside and use your free time to relax and recharge in the fresh air.
Do more of what you love
If you could wave a magic wand and have your dream life right now, what would it look like? What things would you like to do more of? Stop thinking about your dream life and create your dream life! You only get to live once so make the most of it and ways to do more of the things you love every day. If you’d like to spend more time in nature, could you go for a walk at lunchtime? If you want to start going swimming more often, could you get up earlier and do a few lengths before work? If you want to go on holiday, start saving regularly. If you want to quit the 9-5 and work for yourself, start writing your business plan. Small steps taken regularly will inevitably bring you closer to your dreams – and you will learn a heck of a lot along the way.
Remember that life is short.
So buy the shoes, eat the cake, drink the wine.
Photos by Morgan Session, Cathryn Laverty and Francesco Gallarroti, all via Unsplash.