“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” – Guillaume Apollinaire
Just be happy. What a fabulous idea! But how, you might ask? Well, seeing as March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, we thought now would be a great time to delve into this topic a little more. After all, don’t we all just want to be happy? As it turns out, even though some people may be genetically predisposed to a happier temperament than others, we can all take some simple steps to help us along the journey towards a happy state of mind. Here are five things anyone can do that stood out for us.
SLEEP LIKE YOU MEAN IT
You might as well call this your happy medicine, because a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest, yet most effective, things you can do to top up your happiness quota. Science even backs this up, and this article from Harvard Health confirms that “Sleep and mental health are closely connected.” Find out which amount of sleep hits the spot for you and focus on getting it. For some tips on how to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed, check out our blog post Why Sleep Hygiene Needs To Be In Your Wellness Toolbox.
MOVE: EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
You may exercise to lose weight or to reach a certain fitness goal, but are you aware that movement can contribute to your happiness as well? It all comes down to endorphins (chemicals released during exercise), which act like “feel good” boosters in your body. And while a long run will do you the world of good on many levels, don’t underestimate a simple walk in the park or even the intense — and highly effective — 7 minute workout. And yes, we all have 7 minutes in our day to dedicate to exercise no matter who we are!
TAKE CARE OF YOUR GUT
Nope, it’s not a typo. Taking care of your gut health really is connected to greater overall happiness. How so? Because your gut functions like a second brain. The “gut-brain axis” is a two-way communication apparatus, linking the emotional and cognitive centers of your brain with your intestines. In fact, a NCBI study from 2015 found that, “Strong evidence suggests that gut microbiota has an important role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and the nervous system. It interacts with CNS (central nervous systems) by regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuro-endocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety and memory function.” You can learn more about this connection in our blog post, Want To Feel Happier? Just Look To Your Gut Health.
DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS
This one is interesting, because sometimes when we are feeling low, acts of kindness for others might not be top of mind. However, it turns out that giving our time and energy to others is a fantastic recipe for happiness, and there are studies to back this theory up. Think about how you can play a positive role in someone else’s life — whether it’s donating time at the local food bank or offering to babysit for your exhausted neighbor so she can have a night out with her friends — and try to incorporate these acts of kindness on the regular.
This is just a taster of some of the simple, everyday steps you can take to feel happier, but if you’re really interested in the science and application of these theories, you should check out Yale’s online course The Science of Wellbeing. Apparently, it’s their most popular online class. And it’s free. Now there’s something to feel happy about!
At LonoLife we realize this last year has put a strain on many people’s mental health. If you are struggling emotionally and feel the need to talk to someone, you can find some excellent free resources here.