Weekend Self Care: What makes Happy?
Habits are an interesting study. I recently read that the United States actually has a “Happiness Index” to measure the level of such in our nation. I have not investigated that index yet, but i was thinking a lot about happy people i know, and what 11 habits or characteristics are demonstrated by them. This is meant to be a lighthearted look at what makes happy people happy:
- Make it happen mindset – Some of the happiest people i know have not just sat back and waited for life to come, they went out and made it happen. Not lucky, not born to wealth, but hard working , determined to follow their dream, fulfill their desire for purpose and meaning and leave a mark on the world. Lesson to learn: If we want happiness we have to make a priority to develop those areas of life that will make it happen. This can be sticky because we are all guilty of wanting to please someone else, or not let someone down while sacrificing our own joy.
- Good network of friends, coworkers and family – surround yourself with people who are of like mind and you will find that happiness is catchy. Happy people build confidence, stimulate creativity, and like to embrace that 3 letter F word – FUN!!! Likewise, surrounding yourself with doubt, criticism, and people who are difficult is catchy too… Choose wisely grasshopper!
- Live now – or as is common in business books “Be present- be here and now”. No guilt, no anxiety – just bring your full self to the day, and engage with your whole heart, and mind. No room for regret, just acceptance. Things like guilt and anxiety, frustration with the past, regrets, and worry hold our thoughts captive, and prevent us from fulfilling our life now. Make peace with your life, with your capacity, and live this moment to the fullest. You deserve to find the real you in there among the rest of the stuff that holds you back.
- Get good sleep – Have i not said this a thousand times – sleep is the major reason we either fly or flop. There are so many studies out on the impact of sleep deprivation to the brain and cognitive skills which make that one huge advocate for the need for quality sleep. Summing it up, sleep actually is critical for recharging brain capacity by removing toxins that build in the brain and are a normal byproduct of neurological activity. It affects energy, attention, memory, learning capacity, and nimbleness. Happy people make sleep a primary need, a high priority of their lives.
- Be grateful and appreciative of what you have – This one hits home. Don’t we all want more, bigger, brighter, shinier, the latest and greatest, better than our neighbors… when often we have just what we need. This may be true of material things, or of career goals. I can remember as a youngster wanting to be the lead singer in the school choir. It was easy to watch those that were picked belt out the tune… until the try out and it was my turn. My capability for solo singing is so minuscule – but that is not my purpose in life. To want and pine and pursue something like that is wasteful and unproductive. Appreciate what you have, accept it, and train your thoughts to be thankful for your life. As you make that decision to be grateful your mood will improve, and medicine will tell you that you will reduce the stress hormone cortisol by about 25%. Long term gratitude impacts your well being. And you will be happier!!
- Forgive others – It is too tempting to hold a grudge, and forever stress over the wrongs in life. Let them go, forgive and hold them no longer in your thoughts. Happy people tent to be free of the shackles of grudges, wrongs, and un-forgiveness. Offering forgiveness is a good plan, but be aware that the wrongdoer may not understand or accept it. And they may repeat their behavior. Short lesson – forgive but dont forget. The happiest people i know don’t let this get them down, but instead they dust themselves off, and choose to live better.
- Accept (and love) yourself – Most of us are our own worst critic. Learn to accept you for you…. strengths, weaknesses, and all. As you accept what you are you can live more easily in your own skin. Give yourself the freedom to appreciate yourself. Studies show that this practice of self compassion increases the number of healthy decisions you make, reduces your tendency to procrastinate, and improves your outlook (and health).
- Understand your emotions – Be honest about your feelings. Honesty helps to improve your mood as it reduces stress levels. We allhave up and down times… understand them better. Did you know that a survey of people who lived past 100 showed a significantly high percentage of the responses indicated they knew their emotions, and expressed them perhaps more than the average person.
- Control what you can – and learn to let go of what you cannot. No stressing over what is beyond your grasp… let that go. But throw your heart and soul into controlling what is in your capacity.
- And number 10 is the one i struggle with – Exercise – yes, body improvement affects everything else… including your mind. The activity of exercise tones muscles, gets the blood flowing, works out toxins in the system, relieves stress, and …. yes the benefits are huge. The lesson (for me at least) is find something that makes you happy in terms of exercise and just do it.