There have been thousands of books written on the topic of finding happiness. We think that this is an attainable state, a feeling that once we grasp it, we can have it forever. Rather than happiness being a goal, it is a cycle. We aren’t always going to be happy. Life throws curveballs, and the downs are just as important as the ups. In order to appreciate happy, we need to experience sad.
There are things we can do to promote happiness in ourselves and in our circumstances. People often are asked what makes them happy. Is it playing with your pet, or taking walks on the beach? Do you find happiness in other people or in your family? Happiness might be a nap in the sun, or a really good cup of coffee. Happiness comes in many forms and being able to recognize where we can find little bits of happiness is essential.
Happiness isn’t in how much money we have or where we are. Happiness and contentment are found when we are on the path to our purpose in life. Connections with people, animals, and experiences are what create lasting, positive memories in our minds, and these experiences are often what brings us more happiness than simply pursuing what feels good to us in the moment.
Here are six things that have been shown to improve feelings of happiness in people over the course of their lifetimes:
- Volunteering is a great way to get outside of your comfort zone, meet a need, and meet other people. By focusing on someone or something other than yourself, you widen your perspective on life and get outside of your own problems. Giving money away to a worthy cause and donating your time have been shown to boost happiness, too.
- Be grateful. People who are grateful are shown to be happier and more optimistic than people who display more negative mental habits. Writing down a few things you are grateful for every day or every week can help you see where the silver linings are in your life. Thanking others for their actions or gifts is another way to boost happiness and strengthen the relationship you have with the important people in your life.
- Interact with animals. Whether you volunteer at an animal shelter or have pets of your own, interacting with animals has therapeutic and mental health benefits. The animals in your life love you unconditionally and can provide you with a happy friend to live alongside with. Taking care of a pet gives you purpose and allows you to engage with another being on a different level than we do with more people. We have a lot to learn from animals!
- Physical contact. Getting intimate with your partner or even just hugging a friend can have major emotional and mental health benefits. We crave connections with other people, and our physical connections with others are very important for establishing feelings of happiness. Physical contact can help reduce anxiety and make us feel more connected to other people.
- Even taking a walk around the block can get your heart rate up and warm up your muscles. It’s always a mood booster to be outside and going places; regular exercise can boost your immune system and make you look and feel fitter, happier, and healthier. You can find a community sports team to play with, take hikes with your dog, or just join a buddy at the gym to motivate one another and keep each other accountable in your exercise habits.
- Get out of the house. Go enjoy a new museum exhibit, a music night featuring local bands, or another cultural event that gets you out of the house and engaged with your community. You can learn new things, experience something new, and meet other people who are interested in the same things you are. These events are often free, so you don’t have to break the bank to have a good time. Studies have shown that experiencing art and music make us happier.
These six ways are just a few of the options we have for finding happiness in our everyday lives. What they have in common is their foundation of connecting with other people and helping one another get through this crazy journey we call life. By focusing on things outside of ourselves, we open ourselves up to happiness in more ways than we realize.
If you are looking to establish happiness routines in your life, start with some of these six happiness habits. You’ll find meaningful ways to live your life no matter where it ends up taking you.