Simple techniques for a happier life
So the saying goes: “Laughter is the best medicine”, and
“It’s not what you eat, but what eats you”
Research shows that day-to-day choices can make a big difference to how we feel. The level of happiness from one person to the next is thought to be due to which daily behaviours and activities we choose. Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky says: “For weight loss and fitness, long-term changes of diet and exercise are highly successful – it’s the same with happiness”.
Recommended behaviours to foster life satisfaction and good feelings:
- Being ‘fully present in the here and now’ for routine daily tasks, like domestic chores or driving to work, is one of the key skills linked to happiness.
- Offer kindness towards others inside and outside your social circle. Regular volunteer work boosts your wellbeing so much that it improves immunity against illness too.
- Plan ahead to spend time with family and friends, to nurture relationships.
- Appreciate the good things in life, or develop gratitude. Write down three good things that happen to you each day to strengthen this skill.
- Focus on what you do well rather than your mistakes.
- Learn forgiveness.
- Identify goals that are important to you and actively pursue them.
- Know your character strengths and find ways to use them often.
- Keep a diary. Studies show that people who keep journals have a greater sense of wellbeing and fewer depressive symptoms. Just writing can strengthen your mind and immune system. The book ‘Writing to Heal’ by Psychologist James Pennebaker helps people to recover and feel more resolved about negative experiences.
Maximising physical health is also critical for your happiness levels. If you’re not eating well, getting enough sleep, and not getting much exercise, you’re more likely to feel negative.
Changing habits takes determination. To make you feel like you have the capacity to really change; it takes between 7 and 8 attempts to cement new habits, so if you don’t notice any difference after your first few attempts, it doesn’t mean they don’t work. Being mindful (aware of the details of daily life) about what you do every day helps. Mindfulness expert Doctor Russ Harris says mindfulness does not come naturally and we do need to practise it.
For the robust among us, one way to explore values that bring meaning and purpose to your life is to write the eulogy you’d like to hear read out at your funeral. This powerful and confronting technique helps to highlight what really matters to you. See Making Australia Happy.
Anyone can use these techniques at home, now, and for free.
It’s hard to imagine starting any one of these without feeling better!