Life satisfaction, joy, happiness, contentment…these are ways we would all like to describe our lives, but according to a Harris Poll, only 1 in 3 Americans rate their life as ‘very happy’.
We all hit low points and struggle, but overall, we would like to feel a sense of peace and be happy with the direction of our lives.
But what happens if you rarely or never feel joy?
What do you do if life satisfaction seems unattainable and you are just going through the motions of life?
Some issues in our lives obviously can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight and may require a good amount of time to resolve.
But there are things you can start doing TODAY that will change your life.
Here are 5 ways to begin living a happier life now:
1. Get enough sleep. In a society where it’s believed that busyness = success, getting only a few hours of sleep per night is a bragging right. To keep up with all the activities we stuff into our lives the first thing people often cut back on is sleep.
But there’s a high cost to chronic sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, risk for infections and type II diabetes. Ultimately, those who don’t get adequate sleep do not live as long as those who do.
One study shows that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to recall negative memories while those who get enough sleep are more likely to recall pleasant ones.
That’s because sleep deprivation hits the part of the brain the hardest in the area (the hippocampus) that processes positive or neutral stimuli.
2. Get Physically Active. I didn’t use the word, exercise, because it often conjures up images of working out in a sweaty gym surrounded by people in expensive workout attire.
But be active.
Walk, ride a bike, work in the yard, stretch, golf, play soft ball–something to get you moving every day. Physical activity boosts your mood, boosts your metabolism, helps with sleep, lowers disease risk and increases your chances of longevity–and living healthier while living longer.
No time you say?
The truth is we make time for what is important to us.
3. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. This is probably not advice you hear too often on how to be happy, but sometimes we have to improve on some basics before diving into the deeper stuff of life improvement.
When you skip meals or go all day without eating your blood sugar drops which negatively affects your mood and energy level. Finally, when you do have time to eat it often means grabbing whatever is available–and that’s usually not the most nutritious choices or it includes binge eating.
This pattern of eating doesn’t make you feel your best.
Eating well and throughout the day does take planning, but the benefits will pay off greatly.
4. Smile. A smile can do more than just brighten up your face. People who smile more reduce their risk of heart disease, have lower stress levels, boost their immunity, look younger and one study suggests they live an average of seven years longer than non-smilers.
Even if you have to force yourself to smile at first, it will still do something to lift your mood. So start a new habit of smiling–smile at the store clerk, smile at your neighbor, smile at your kids…just smile!
5. Watch your thought life. Thoughts are the driving force behind everything you do in life. Every action you take, every relationship you pursue and anything that has manifested itself in your life began as a thought. Thoughts even affect the quality of our health.
Thoughts can enhance our well-being or be destructive.
Thought patterns are something we develop while we are young and like any habit, they can be difficult to change. We’ve all experienced the running dialogue in our heads–ruminating over the same junk day after day.
Changing thought patterns takes awareness and time. Awareness of your thought patterns is the first step you can take today.
I will leave you with this one last thought…if getting older has you bummed and the thought of aging is chipping away at your happiness…think again. There are a number of studies that show that as people age they become happier and have more life satisfaction.
Pretty cool, huh?
Enjoy the journey.