Whether we make a goal to exercise more, pay off debt, or improve our relationships, ultimately, our underlying goal is to simply feel good.
We often strive for exterior achievements, thinking that happiness will be ours as soon as we change our circumstances.
The good news is that we can feel good in this moment, while we work on shaping our external situations. It’s not “either / or.” As it turns out, happiness leads to success a whole lot more than success leads to happiness.
Fortunately, there are a few practices that help to increase our joy in the present moment. Here are five ways to experience more happiness in 2017:
1. Reprogram your brain for gratitude.
The more you practice something, the more natural and effortless it becomes. The same is true with gratitude. When you intentionally practice being grateful, you are rewiring your brain to be grateful more often. And this is one of the fastest ways to experience happiness.
2. Carve out time to settle down.
When our heads are full of anxious thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy the moment. Fortunately, our minds have a self-clearing mechanism built into the design. When we sit still (without any stimulus from screens, people, or music), our mind settles on its own.
And when our mind is calm, we feel peaceful, clear, and joyful. That’s why people feel so good after meditation! All that’s needed is 3-5 minutes of sitting still, breathing deeply, without any external distractions. It’s free and remarkably effective!
3. Find out what you love to do.
It’s important to know thyself. Whether it’s painting, improv, reading, playing frisbee, hiking, writing, volunteering, drawing, working on cars, or a thousand other activities, we all have things we love to do (besides watching TV). Figure out what those things are for you and go do them!
4. Be more intentional about your relationships.
It’s so easy to go through the motions with the people in your life, especially family and coworkers. But what if you made it your mission to go deeper this year? How could you improve each relationship?
Let this be the year of intentionality. Think of someone you love. Make a list of ten things you could do to show your love, to put a smile on their face. Then start doing some of those items on the list. In other words, “shower the people you love with love.”
5. Find a way to give back.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to feel happier. Going out of your way to help someone else instantly gets you out of your head and into the flow of community. While giving money is always helpful, you’ll feel the biggest change in energy when you give your time (since you can never get it back).
What if 2017 was your happiest year yet? What if you practiced these five secrets on a regular basis? How would your life look different? There’s only one way to find out. #GoForIt