‘Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.’ ~Dalai Lama
Happiness is not something that depends on how your day is going or how others treat you — it depends on what you do on a regular basis.
- A handful of activities can actually make you happy.
- If you incorporate them into your life on a regular basis (make them into habits), you’ll be happier regularly.
And those might seem to be small realizations, but actually, they’re huge.
The Habits That Make You Happy
So what habits make you happy? Try doing these on a daily basis, and see if you get the results:
- List 3 Good Things. Take a moment to tell your partner three good things about our day. This serves as at least one time in your day when you focus on what you’re grateful for. This can create a mental habit of gratitude that you can use other times in your day, when you’re focused on the things you don’t like or have — when you feel this, think about something you do have, that you love. Find a way to be grateful, and you’re happier.
- Help Someone. When we focus on ourselves, and the woeful state of our lives, we are self-centred. This shrinks the world to one little place with one little unhappy person. But what if we can expand that worldview, and expand our heart to include at least one other person? Maybe even a few others? Then we see that others are suffering too, even if that just means they’re stressed out. Then we can reach out, and do something to reduce their stress, put a smile on their face, make their lives easier. Help at least one person each day, and you’ll find your entire perspective shifted.
- Meditate. Meditate for just 2 minutes a day, and you’ll create a habit that will allow you to notice your thoughts throughout the rest of the day, that will help you to be more present (unhappiness comes from not being present), that will help you notice the source of anxiety and distraction. That’s a lot that can be accomplished in 2 minutes! Sit every morning when you wake, and just notice your body, and then your breath. Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return to your breath. You become the watcher of your mind, and you’ll learn some useful things.
- Exercise. Everyone knows you should exercise, so I’m not going to labour this point. But it really does make you happier, both in the moment of exercise (I’m exerting myself, I’m alive!) and throughout the rest of the day. Exercise lightly, if you’re not in the habit yet, and just for a few minutes a day to start out. Who doesn’t have a few minutes a day? If you don’t, you need to loosen up your schedule a bit.
There are a number of other habits that also help: mindful eating, drinking tea, doing yoga, socializing with others. But these incorporate meditation (they’re more active forms of meditation) and exercise and helping others and gratitude (if you’re doing it right).
How do you form these habits? One at a time, starting as small as possible, with some social accountability.
Set these habits in motion. You’ll notice yourself becoming more present, more grateful, more other-focused. The shift that results is nothing short of a miracle.