Habits that will make You Happier

Habits that will make You Happier

Happiness can sometimes feel like an out-of-reach emotion, especially if you don’t like your job or are in an unhappy relationship. Even if your life is pretty good, you may find yourself wishing you could be happy more of the time. Luckily, there are many habits that will help you be happy every day. I went to the experts to learn which habits will make you the happiest.

Cultivate gratitude

Incorporating gratitude in your daily life will make you happier because you will learn to focus on the good things rather than the negatives. Therapist Kimberly Hershenson recommended, “Keep a daily gratitude list. List ten things you are grateful for, which can be anything from reality TV to your family.”

Patti Sabla, life coach and licensed clinical social worker, added that when you intentionally focus on gratitude, it helps you find even more positive things in your life. She told me, “When we are grateful for what we have, we tend to look for new things to be grateful for. Having this optimism of trying to find new things to be appreciative of, even if it is as simple as someone holding the door open for us, increases our happiness.”

Sherry Samuels, certified life coach, told me that cultivating gratitude also has more long-lasting effects. “When we express our gratitude for even the simplest things in our lives, we strengthen that happiness muscle. A strong ‘happiness muscle’ helps us pull ourselves out of those unhappy ruts with greater ease and less effort, thereby increasing our level and/or frequency of happiness.”

Take care of yourself

Do you find yourself taking care of everyone else before yourself? If so, it’s time to put more energy into self-care. Hershenson told me, “Taking time out of the day for yourself promotes better health and allows you to take on life’s challenges. Start a meditation practice, take a long shower or bubble bath, cook yourself your favorite meal and enjoy it free of electronics. Taking time for yourself will help center you.”

Samuels pointed out the tendency of women to take care of everyone else first. “We can focus a lot on what those around us want and need, but how often do we, sans guilt, focus on what we need for ourselves and then make time for that?”

Emily Griffin, a licensed clinical professional counselor, agreed and shared her weekly self-care habit with me. “Plan at least one activity a week where you are doing something that only benefits you. For example, every Sunday morning I go paddle boarding. I never plan anything else at that time to ensure that I get my me time.” Even if you only take one morning a week for yourself, it will make you much happier and less burnt out.

Learn to accept

One of the best ways to be happier is to stop resisting your current reality. Monte Drenner, a licensed mental health counselor, master certified addictions professional, and life coach told me, “Much of an individual’s unhappiness can stem from things they are unwilling to accept. For example, they are trying to change their significant other or their work environment. This lack of acceptance leads to constant frustration that prevents them from being happy.”

If you accept your reality, you will be much more resilient. You will learn to accept what you can’t change and take steps to make the changes that you do have control over. Hershenson told me, “Accept what you can and cannot control in the situation. For example, if you lose your job you cannot control the fact that you were fired or laid off. You can control whether you take steps to find a new job as well as whether you take care of yourself with proper nutrition and sleep.”

Be present

If you can put down your phone and pay attention to the people and experiences in front of you, it will greatly add to your happiness. Samuels told me, “We are more connected to our devices than we are to people, keeping us from being present to hear that great joke at dinner or feel the intimacy of our partner’s touch as we watch TV.” She added, “Allowing ourselves to be fully present feeds opportunities for happy moments and memories.”

Katie McCulloch, licensed professional counselor, added that being present stops you from dwelling on the past or feeling fearful about the future. When you are present, you are able to find peace and enjoyment right here and now. She told me, “All too often, we spend our lives either dwelling on the past or wondering about the future. Unfortunately, much of dwelling on the past is not spent thinking of our happy times. We’re more likely to dwell on times we’d actually prefer to forget. When we look to the future, it’s often with anxiety rather than excitement.”

She continued, “When you learn how to spend more of your time focused only on this exact moment in time, it is easier to find your inner peace. It is also easier to enjoy more of what is happening in your life and notice the good little things around you.”

Smile

It may seem like a simple thing, but smiling more also increases your happiness level. Naomi J. Hardy, a certified change management and relationship expert, told me, “Take time to smile at yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. At first it will seem strange, and then you will find yourself smiling for no reason.” She added, ” Smiling at others brings happiness. You will begin to notice and appreciate the little things. Over time, you will seek opportunities to be happy.”

Rhonda Milrad, licensed clinical social worker, relationship therapist, and founder of the online relationship community Relationup, agreed. She added, “Smile and say hello at every encounter. People respond to positivity and interact with you differently when you engage in a happy manner. The positivity that you share affects the other person who, in turn, has a positive effect on you.”

She also pointed out the physiological effects of smiling. “Smiling has a positive effect on your body chemistry. With every smile, the feel-good and stress-reducing neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are released, causing you to feel more relaxed and happier.”