The term ‘happiness’ can mean different things for everyone. What does happiness mean to you? What makes you happy? All too often we don’t stop and think about, or do, what makes us happy. Instead, we run around trying to please others; whether it be our boss, family or friends, and our happiness gets shoved to the bottom of our priorities list.
“Instead, we run around trying to please others”
But research has found that happiness is something you can actually practise. Yep, there are daily exercises you can do, which have huge benefits for your mind, body and soul.
Two important things to know about happiness is that first, happiness is not just pleasure and joy, it is much more complex than that; so don’t feel like you have to leave your negative feelings at the door. Secondly, happiness takes work. Some of us are born with the right genetic makeup and happiness comes easy, for others, we need tools and practices to pursue happiness. You get out what you put in, and it’s important to put as much effort into happiness as you would in to the gym to see results.
So, we put together four key happiness practices, you can add into your daily routine to lead a happier life.
Three Good Things
This one is quite a quick and simple exercise you can do either during the day or before bed. Just take 10 minutes out of your day to remember and list 3 good things that happened in your day. Reflect what caused them and how it made you feel. Doing this every day will be a good reminder of all the good things in your life.
Random Acts of Kindness
This one is super easy and pretty straight forward. Random acts of kindness can be anything big or small. By deliberately taking the time to do something kind for others, no matter the magnitude of the act, can systematically boost happiness. So practice doing something kind for a person. Just remember to do different kind things for people because doing the same act can lose its gravity and impact for yourself and the other person.
Mindful breathing is an exercise that will help you focus attention on your breath in your daily life—an important skill to help you deal with stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. You can practice mindful breathing in any situation, simply focus your attention on your breath, then inhale and exhale. Start by taking an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through your nostrils (3 seconds), hold your breath (2 seconds), and a long exhale through your mouth (4 seconds). It may help to focus on the rise and fall of your chest. If you are finding that your mind is wandering and getting distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Self Compassion Letter
Last but not least, write yourself a self-compassion letter. At times we may all feel we aren’t good enough, or have things about ourselves that we don’t like, are embarrassed about or ashamed of. Rather than beating yourself up about it, express compassion for this aspect of yourself. Write yourself a letter and express compassion, understanding and acceptance. Take the perspective that you would have on someone you love unconditionally and apply that to yourself. Understand that everyone has flaws, avoid judging yourself and have a think about whether there is anything you can do to help manage this. Once you have written yourself this letter, put it away and read it again when you feel bad about yourself.
It’s that easy! And remember, the more regular and authentic effort you put in, the bigger the impact, and the more lasting the effects.
By Yasya King
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