We all want happiness, but we don’t always know how to get it.
The good news is that you have more control over your own happiness than you think, and there’s always something you can do to lift yourself out of that funk.
As a positive psychologist and success coach, I have used the science of happiness to help thousands of people around the globe create positive change and start living their most fulfilling lives. I know what works, and I know that happiness doesn’t have to be hard.
Start by using these nine positive practices, and watch your good vibes roll.
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
This may seem like basic advice, but it’s advice that so many of us neglect to take seriously. Getting a good night’s sleep and taking care of your energy means starting your day with a spring in your step and an ability to notice all the opportunities the world has to offer you.
A restful night's sleep starts with a good evening routine, so go to sleep at the same time every night and avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bed. (Choose camomile tea instead!) Read a book rather than watch television, and make sure your phone and other electronics are off before bed.
2. Commit to a vision and intention for your day.
Living your happiest life begins with making the decision that today is going to be awesome. There’s little point in thinking that you’ll be happy next month once you head off on that vacation, or that you’ll find fulfillment once you finally get that pay raise. Your happiness has to start now.
Decide how you want your day to look, and focus on the best possible vision of that. Set an intention and use a mantra that affirms it: “Today, I decide to be the best that I can be.”
Self-care is soul care, and setting aside time in your day just to be really allows you to become present with yourself and enjoy the moment. Practicing just 10 minutes of meditation can improve your focus, connection, happiness, and health for the entire day.
4. Move your body to move your mood.
A life in motion is a happy life. After all, our bodies are meant to move. Staying physically active provides us with far more mental clarity and far less stress and anxiety. Find a workout that you absolutely love, because moving your body shouldn’t be a chore.
I personally love the high I feel from running, and the balance I experience through yoga, but even just 20 minutes of walking is enough to activate your brain and start releasing those happy hormones.
5. Consider how you can serve others.
One of the best ways to help yourself feel happier is to actually forget about yourself for a moment. Focus on helping someone else instead. Kind people are happy people, so what can you do that will help somebody else today? Don’t just think it; do it ...
Choose to pay it forward at your local coffee shop by buying somebody else a drink, give the gift of time through volunteering or helping a family member with a to-do list, or find a thoughtful gift to give to someone you care about.
6. Listen to your favorite music.
A recent study found that music has a positive effect on the brain, increases self-awareness, and puts people in a better mood, so put on your favorite tunes and let them guide you toward a happiness boost. Choose songs with positive lyrics, and don’t be afraid to bust out some dance moves to enhance the mood-boosting effect.
7. Choose to invest in your relationships.
In order to have a thriving life, you need to maintain thriving relationships. Invest your attention into your relationships (after all, you make up 50 percent of them), and do everything necessary to help them flourish.
Ask yourself what you can do to strengthen one of your relationships this week … Could you give a compliment, lend a hand, or ask about something good that has happened? Asking questions and taking an interest in other people is a quick and easy way to develop your positive relationships.
8. Embrace negativity.
Living your happiest life is not about ignoring all of the negatives. But instead of pulling your hair out and reaching for wine whenever everything seems to be going wrong, look at it as a lesson. Use your obstacles as opportunities, and use your failures to serve your growth.
Look back on any hard times and think about how much you have learned from those experiences. What positive impact did that negative experience have on you? How did it allow you to grow into the person you are today?
9. Say, "Thank you."
There’s a reason your parents told you to be grateful when you were growing up—an attitude of gratitude is an essential part of a fulfilling life. You experience more positive emotions when you focus on what you do have instead of on what you don’t.
Fill a page with all of the things you are grateful for—I guarantee you’ll feel so much happier once you’re done!