It’s hard to believe how a few simple changes to our daily habits can impact our lives, and become a motivation for positive change. Here are a few simple things you can do every day to feel happier this week.
Sleep in a comfy and clean bed
According to several experts, a daily habit as simple as making your bed could lead to increased happiness. Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project, explains that this simple task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness. Plus, there’s the added bonus of having a beautiful, organized bedroom, and the satisfaction of knowing you made it look that way. To make things even better, making your bed each day, “It’s a keystone habit that paves the way for other good habits to form” according to Charles Duhigg, author of the bestseller The Power of Habit.
Break out of your daily routine
There are no rules here, anything to get us out of cruise control. It can be as simple as walking down a different street or trying something unusual. There’s actually a lot of science that explains why it’s so hard to break out of your comfort zone, and why it’s good for you when you do it. And if you change your perspective on yourself from someone who sticks to the old and comfortable all the time to someone who likes to mix things up then it will feel more natural and easier to break out of your comfort zone when comes to bigger things as well.
Exercise every day – 10 minutes might be enough
Exercising trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day. In fact, exercise has such a significant effect on our happiness that it is actually been proven to be an effective strategy for overcoming depression.
In a study cited in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels, to begin with, the follow-up assessments proved to be radically different. “Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!
Spend time and/or connect with friends and family
Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified this as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives: ”We are happy when we have a family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying. If you want more evidence that it’s beneficial for you. If you can see them in person, at least call them. You can do this while you clean, or while you walk the dog. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that even when we don’t feel like it, even if we are naturally introverted, socializing with our loved ones makes us feel better.
Connect with something greater than yourself
Studies show that connecting to a high power is correlated with happiness. It does not even have to be as part of an organized spiritual group or religion. Just stepping back to realize that we are part of an enormous universe can put some perspective on your life. Take an hour of your day to contemplate something larger than yourself. It could be in nature or in the big city. It could even be at home, finding inspiration in a new book or song.
Reconnect with something special from the past
For example, listen to music from the happiest time in your life. Music affects the brain in a unique way and can remind you of places you have listened to it before. Were you happiest in High School? Play the music you loved back then and it can take you to that happier place and boost your spirit.
Finally, try to smile more
Most of the times, your mind is getting plenty of random info and it isn’t sure how to feel, so it looks around for clues. This is called “biofeedback.” According to UCLA researcher Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral, ”Biofeedback is just the idea that your brain is always sensing what is happening in your body and it reviews that information to decide how it should feel about the world.”. You feel happy and that makes you smile. But it works both ways: when you smile, your brain can detect this and say, “I’m smiling. That must mean I’m happy.” So happiness makes you smile, but smiling can also produce happiness.