Many people think that happiness comes from having the best things in the world. Others feel happy when they are surrounded by loved ones, or able to fulfill their needs without worries. What if you are told that happiness is a choice? That it roots from your own view and perspective toward your surroundings?
“Happiness as a choice” may sound like a cliché, but it roots in the real psychological state. If you want to experience long-term content, you must change what’s inside you, because your surroundings change frequently.
Redefining Happiness and Its Effects
Why do people think that “happiness” means having more?
Because of misunderstanding about what happiness really means.
Happiness is not a goal in life, because it is a complex concept that may be different for each person. When people focus on achieving happiness, they tend to think about success, financial excess, recognition, fame, and sexual fulfillment. When they fail to achieve these things, they become depressed and think that they are unhappy.
To feel happy, you must think of happiness as a combination of purpose and pleasure. Purpose means you have a feeling that your daily life has meaning. Pleasure means experiencing positive emotions, such as amusement, contentment, pleasure, delight, mirth, and joy. This combination happens on a daily basis, which means that it cannot be placed as a single life goal.
By being mindful of this combination, you will welcome each day with excitement and a lighter heart. When you experience hardship, you can still hold on purpose and pleasure to go through the challenges.
How to Experience Happiness in Daily Life
You can have a fulfilling life by experiencing small but constant happiness every day. Switching your mind and emotion to healthier states can help you to live a happy life. Here are practical things you can do:
- Appreciate small pleasures
Start focusing your attention on small pleasures you often overlook. Things such as delicious breakfast, a smooth trip to work, your spouse overtaking your daily task, or coworker offering some snacks to you can make your day brighter. When the day is over, recount those small joys before going to sleep in a good mood.
- Pay more attention to your loved one
Feeling too busy lately? Try focusing on people close to you: families, friends, coworkers. Show extra attentions by asking about their health, praising their outfits, or treating them some snacks. Their positive responses will make you happier and feel appreciated.
- List things that make you grateful
Complaining makes us forget the good things that we have. Try recounting everyday things that make you grateful, such as your working limbs, your stable paychecks, your ability to eat and experience small pleasure, or your family. Think about people who don’t have those things, and you will feel lucky and happier.
- Create variations in your routine
If you have a stable routine, try breaking it up occasionally. For example, try a new lunch option, a different route from work to home, or weekend routine. Breaking from routine will ignite your curiosity, refresh your mind, and renew your daily experience.
- Practice small kindness
Practicing kindness or altruistic acts can bring positive feeling. This is because altruistic acts can ignite the part of the brain that gets pleasure from sex or food. Say thank you with a smile to servers. Buy lunch for coworkers. Open the door for someone. Volunteer when you have time. These acts will bring positive changes in your life.
Finally, try to conduct “social media detox”. Many negative emotions such as envy, anger, and anxiety are caused by overexposure to social media. Cut down your use from eight hours to three, for example (or just log off for a day). You will feel the effect immediately.
Physical Activities, Health, and Happiness
There are connections between physical activities, health, and psychological state. By being active and healthy, your body responds better to stress. Physical activities can also encourage the production of dopamine, a hormone that creates a “happy” feeling in your brain.
There are several nice ways to feel happy through healthy or physical activities, such as:
- Start walking
Never do sport before? Try taking up walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Pick a nice route, such as a friendly neighborhood route, beachside, or backyard hills. Morning walk (and sweat) will make you feel fresher and happier.
- Sleep more regularly
Arrange your schedule so you can sleep for six to eight hours every night. Good night sleep will reduce the stress level and keep your hormones in balance. You will also feel more refreshed when starting your day.
- Try breathing exercise, yoga, and meditation
Breathing exercise, yoga, and meditation help you to achieve “mindfulness”. Breathing regularly and feeling your muscle movements help to bring your mind to the “present”. They are good exercises to prevent bad habits, like dwelling in the past or anxious about the future.
Teaching yourself to be happy is the first step to have a good life. Happiness is a choice, and you have the control to improve your life.