When I workout, I usually watch motivational videos on YouTube channels like Mindvalley and Be Inspired. In one of the Be Inspired videos, a speaker mentioned three activities that research has shown improves happiness. I thought, “Good. I do those things on a regular basis, but there must be more.” I kept working out while trying to remember other activities that I’ve read help to make us happy. Then I remembered them, so I’m sharing with you 5 things you can do right now to make you feel happier.
Express gratitude: I can almost pinpoint the first time I heard that expressing gratitude can make you happier to a moment nearly 10 years ago. But it wasn’t until a year ago that I discovered a method that I found to be powerful and that works well for me. It’s a gratitude jar! Each day I try to write down three new things I’m grateful for. Fortunately, I usually come up with way more than three! Then I cut them out and place them into my gratitude jar. The jar serves as a POWERFUL visual reminder that no matter what is going on in my life, I ALWAYS have something to be grateful for!
I quickly found that I had SO much to be grateful for that I was filling my Ball jar up before six months of the year had passed. I had to transfer my gratitude notes to a food storage canister! Someone suggested that I read them all on New Year’s Eve. I think I will!
Exercise: I don’t like working out, and I don’t know if I ever will. BUT I do it. I do it for the well-documented health benefits, but also because research has shown that exercising helps us to feel happier. I’m a believer, because EVERY time I walk out of the door to go for a walk even though I don’t feel like it, the moment I take that first step, my mood improves INSTANTLY! Maybe that has something to do with the endorphins our bodies release when we exercise.
Eat bananas: Bananas are not my favorite fruit, but I eat them for their touted health benefits, and because research indicates that bananas can help reduce the chances of becoming depressed. So I can eat a tasty fruit and get the benefits of its nutrients, such as potassium and feel happier? I’m sold!
Socialize: OK. I have to admit that I’m weak in this area, but it’s not because I have an aversion to people. I’m an introvert. I’ve known that for a long time, but the good news is that there is a scientific reason for introversion. We simply get over stimulated when around large groups of people. It zaps us of our energy, so we tend to seek solitude to reenergize like I did when Nick wanted to me to go to a house party with him and after an hour, I was relieved by sitting in the car across the street from the house alone. So I said all of that to say, I’m working on being more social, because not only does it make us happier, but I’ve also read that people who are more social tend to live longer. I can’t think of a better motivator than the possibility of having a longer life!
Meditate: For years, I’ve heard that meditating increases happiness. Recently, I watched a video on how one elementary school was able to bring its suspension rate to zero simply by having students meditate when they found themselves in volatile situations. Really? I’m in! When I try something new, I tend to need some type of structure just until I design my own method. I’ve started using a six-step method I found at the Mindvalley channel. Some of the steps include, practicing forgiveness, expressing gratitude and envisioning having a productive day. You don’t have to sit for hours to meditate. I complete the six steps in a matter of minutes!
If you know of other activities that research has shown can help make us happier, please share!