Boost Your Happiness and Wellbeing
As a nation, we are wealthier, we live longer and have access to more comforts and technology than any generation before us, and yet our levels of stress, anxiety and depression are at an all time high. But many people aren't happy and are caught in the trap of working harder to make more money, to buy more things, with the hope that eventually all that effort will pay off.
The notion that sacrificing your happiness while you pursue success is actually completely backward because research now shows, very convincingly, that focusing on being happy NOW is likely to make you more successful in every area of your life.
In fact, happier people:
- Are more likely to get jobs and get promoted
- Get sick less often, recover faster and even live an average of 7.5 years longer
- Have more friends, are more likely to get married and stay (happily!) married
- Are better problem solvers, decision makers and more creative
Here are 5 things you can do right now (and can make a part of your regular routine) that are proven to increase your happiness and wellbeing so you can start reaping those rewards:
1. Be grateful
No matter what is going wrong in your life, there is always something to be happy and thankful for, and shifting your focus to one of gratitude is an immediate happiness-enhancing activity. You can take a silent moment to acknowledge what you’re grateful for, write a letter of thanks to someone, or keep a gratitude journal.
2. Be kind
We’re naturally egocentric beings and tend to be very preoccupied with our own problems. Doing nice things for other people, giving people your time or extending small courtesies shifts your attention to other people and increases your empathy. This not only brightens someone else’s day but is proven to have a profoundly positive effect on your own wellbeing and happiness, too.
3. Savour the good stuff
There are usually plenty of opportunities to experience happy moments in our lives, but we’re often too busy to notice them. To “savour” something is to prolong and enjoy pleasant experiences and research demonstrates that people with a greater capacity for savouring positive events experience more happiness in the moment, as well as later when they recall the event. Like any mental process, savouring is a skill that can be developed with practice. You can savour an experience as it’s happening, or you can dial up happiness by savouring the anticipation of an upcoming happy event, or even savouring a very pleasant memory.
4. Connect with a friend (but not on Facebook)
Having close, supportive friendships is the single biggest predictor of happiness into old age, but research shows that online connections actually impact our mood in a negative way. Studies have shown that the average Facebook user has never met 7% of their Facebook friends and a further 3% they've met only once - making a full 10% of so-called “friends” who are basically strangers.
In fact, even having a mobile phone visible during a face-to-face conversation has been shown to reduce trust and rapport. So put your phone away and give all your attention to the real person sitting in front of you.
5. Exercise to boost endorphins
We’ve long known that regular exercise is a proven mood booster, so if you’re not doing it for your physical health, do it for your mental health! If that’s not enough motivation to get you to the gym, then studies have even confirmed that just 30 minutes exercise a day for 16 weeks is as effective as medication for people diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, and even if you’re not depressed, the release of endorphins will increase your happiness and carry over into all the other areas of your life.
Dunn is a dual-qualified Clinical & Coaching Psychologist and the owner of Living Wise Psychology. She is an experienced meditator with over 15 years of meditation practice, and is trained to teach the world-renowned Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course. She draws on both eastern wisdom and western psychology to help her clients create their most happy, fulfilled and inspired lives.
Written by Cassandra Dunn - a dual-qualified Clinical & Coaching Psychologist and the owner of Living Wise Psychology. She is an experienced meditator with over 15 years of meditation practice, and is trained to teach the world-renowned Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course. She draws on both eastern wisdom and western psychology to help her clients create their most happy, fulfilled and inspired lives.