How To Boost Your Happiness in 9 Easy Steps
By: Dr. Libby Darnell
The road to happiness is a journey. There is no sprint to the finish line. In fact, there is no finish line. Some days we are at an all time happiness high, where life is practically perfect. No matter who you are, we’ve all had dark days that we’d rather not remember. What sets truly happy people apart is that they understand one simple fact; happiness is a choice. There is no secret. No quick fix. When you make the choice to be happy, your daily actions create happiness. Just like being healthy, there is no magic pill. Our daily choices either create health and happiness, or they create eventual disease and suffering.
Daily Happiness Strategies:
1. Start your day off right with a gratitude-filled morning routine!
This is by far THE most impactful step you can take to transform your health and happiness. Creating this morning routine is a complete game changer. Once you’ve started your day with a mindset of gratitude, it is much harder to get knocked off track by the negative things around you. If you’re new to this, start small. Set your alarm 15 minutes early tomorrow and simply find a quiet place in your home to create a gratitude list. Check out Four Minutes to a Happier You to get you started. Once you have your mini routine mastered, gradually begin adding to it. Try a morning smoothie, meditation, yoga, affirmation, time with God, time reading a chapter of a book, or an invigorating run. You will love how great your day will be after mastering your morning!
2. Visualize your future.
So many of us live day to day, without having a goal in mind. Sit down and write out where you want to be one year from now. What does that look like for your spiritual life? Your family life? Your professional life? Do the same for 5 years from now. What would you REALLY want if there were no limits? Take this a step further and write down your goals and review them daily, changing them as you meet and exceed your expectations.
3. Meditate in the morning or before bed.
Meditation isn’t just for hippies! (Have you ever noticed how happy hippies are?!) The most successful entrepreneurs in the world practice mediation. The benefits are far reaching, from an increase in happiness, to an increase in brain function and immunity. Want to slow the aging process? Meditate! I love the app Holosync, and use the “Perfect Health” program daily.
4. Serve others.
Want an instant boost in happiness? Do something kind and unexpected for someone else. Check out my Four Minutes to A Happier You for suggestions. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Studies have shown time and time again that contributing our time, effort, money, or expertise increases our happiness far more than receiving money or material goods. Serving others really is one of the best ways to boost your own happiness! Get out there and pay it forward!
5. Take care of yourself!
When life gets chaotic it is easy to let your self-care slip to the side, but think about this; you are best able to serve others when you are healthy and happy. If you want to keep burning fuel, you have to keep filling the tank! Make your self-care a priority, above others. That may sound harsh, but I know that if I want to be the best mom I can be, I have to make my health my priority. My morning routine, daily exercise, clean eating, and other health habits allow me to be the best mom, wife, and boss I absolutely can be. What is one thing you can do tomorrow to start making self-care a priority?
6. Create a date night routine!
My husband and I are currently going through, without a doubt, the most chaotic time of our lives. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that if we didn’t make a bi-weekly date night an absolute priority, our marriage would become an afterthought. Our date night is in our calendar every two weeks, and is my favorite thing in the world. Single? This action step still applies! Make having a fun night out with your friends a priority. Life is busy! It probably always will be. Reconnecting with the people that you love is so very important to our physical and mental health.
7. Get restful sleep!
Sleeping allows your body to heal, to optimize your happy hormones, and to recharge. I never fully appreciated sleep, until I had my son. Without sleep I gained weight (even though I barely ate), and found that just trying to function day to day was a challenge. Enter baby sleep training! My weight came off, my health and happiness rebounded, and I felt like a contributing member of society again! The key strategies I used were: eliminating screen time before bed, taking an epsom salt bath one hour before bed, using the “Perfect Health” program from the app Holosync to get me to fall asleep, and going through my gratitude list when sleeplessness occurred. For more details check out my No Sheep Sleep Method.
8. Stay inspired!
What makes you inspired? What keeps you from settling for mediocrity? Whatever inspires you to keep improving yourself is a surefire way to maintain your happiness. Personally, I love listening to podcasts from entrepreneurs that add massive value to my life. My favorite right now is Superhuman Entrepreneur by a mentor of mine, Dr. Isaac Jones. I also make it a point to read an inspirational book everyday during my morning routine, and before bed. Some of my favorites are; Good to Great by Jim Collins, Failing Forward by John Maxwell, and Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. Some other suggestions are: taking part in the Morning Miracle Facebook Group, being part of a bible study group or small group at church, and regularly being out in nature.
9. Be spontaneous!
While the rest of these action steps require a bit of planning, don’t forget to leave room for spontaneity. Take friends and family up on their last minute offers of adventure. If you have a miraculous free day open up on your schedule, plan a day trip to do something with your family (or make it a solo day) to do something new! Some of my favorite memories were completely accidental when other plans were canceled, and so the entire day was at my fingertips! I’ve gone skydiving twice when the opportunity just randomly popped up! (You can imagine the phone call to my husband right before)! Full disclosure, another one of my favorites is the day I actively decided to not leave the couch and just vegged out all day! I LOVED IT! While having a structured day is fantastic and something I thrive on, I always remember that I’ve been blessed with one life, and I take the opportunity to enjoy it.
Notice what isn’t on this action plan . . . . .? What do most people think makes them happy? Money? Fame? Self-importance? More stuff? None of that appears on this list because they have NOTHING to do with happiness. Studies have shown that once an individual or household achieves a certain income level, where they can meet their basic needs and have a little wiggle room to enjoy themselves on occasion, their level of happiness plateaus. More money does NOT equal more happiness. Money is great. It allows us to create experiences for ourselves and serve others. I personally set financial goals and work toward those goals, but I was just as happy when I lived in my $225/month apartment as I am now.
Remember, pick your three action steps you can start NOW! Create your mini morning routine! Grab an inspirational book from the book store. Plan a spa day with your friends. Wherever you are on your happiness journey, simply make the choice to get started. Cheers to your happiness!
- Brooks, Arthur. New York Times. A Formula For Happiness. Dec 14, 2013
- Deaton and Kahneman, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. High Income Improves Evaluation of Life but not Emotional Well Being. Volume 107, No 38.
- TheArtOfLiving.org, Benefits of Meditation
- Santi, Jenny. Time. The Secret to Happiness is Helping Others. October 14, 2015