You can improve your satisfaction with your daily life with focused attention on a few important areas. Try these 5 things to do every day to be happy and see the quality of your life improve.
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Many people start the new year looking for the perfect diet. They're convinced that there's some magic diet out there that will change their life. Believe me, I'm all about eating right, but I also wish that people would look into the many other elements that feed their mind and body. As I’ve written about before, a good diet is only part of the healthy life equation.
Don't worry, I'm not going to give you 1,000 things to accomplish for a better life. I'm going to try and keep it simple and attainable by giving you 5 things to do every day to be happy.
Surely, you can accomplish 5 things to feel stronger satisfaction with your daily life, right? I'm not saying that these 5 things are going to be easy, but chances are that you already do some of them each day. Ensuring you do them all, every day, I believe that you can find a much higher quality of life.
Do you ever have one of those days were you can't figure out why you're grumpy? You did your normal things that day, but somehow feel off? I've found that when I reflect back on my day and compare it to this list, I realize I've missed a few items. The good news is that it's never too late to turn things around. And if you need to simply embrace a sucky day, here’s how.
Being aware of what feeds your mind and body is half the battle. Once you see how much better you feel when you do each of these, the more you'll want to do it and it will become second nature. Then you can start adding extra credit items to take your daily happiness to the next level. Until then, we'll start with my top 5 things to do every day to be happy.
1. Develop Gratitude and Positive Thinking
I like to start and end each day with gratitude. Think of all the things for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as being able to get out of bed in the morning or the fact you have a bed to sleep in. Gratitude can extend to the people you have in your life from the garbage man who collects your debris every week to the checkout girl at the grocery store to your family and friends who nurture your life. Here are more details on how to start this all important gratitude practice.
The more you acknowledge all that you have in your life, the more positive your mindset will be. And let's face it, paying attention to the positive is much more uplifting than focusing on the negative.
There's also the law of attraction theory that says whatever you put your attention on, grows. If you want more happiness, look for the positive things that you already have in your life. And of course the reverse is true. If all you see is how unfair life is, you'll be sure to find ways to prove yourself right. So keep your focus off the negative and concentrate on the positive to see all of the good things in your life grow.
2. Connect and Contribute
I work from home. Somedays I won't interact with anyone except for the yoga check-in gal. It's on these days that I know I need to reach out to a friend to go for a walk or simply connect on a phone call. Notice I said phone call, not text or email.
It's easy to get caught up in our own thoughts of the day and sometimes get consumed by them. Reaching out to a friend grounds you to another human being. It can be helpful to talk through any issues you're having. I know when I give voice to something (outside of my own head!), the troubling thought can lose its power.
Above and beyond sharing your own issues, connecting with someone also allows you to contribute to another person's life. Helping someone through a problem is a great way to deepen a friendship, as well as to help them improve their life. Bonus for you is that you feel good at having helped. My own problems often dissipate in the process.
Contributing can apply to family and friends, as well as people you don't know. There are so many people in need of help and healing that volunteering your talents and services can have a huge impact. Find a local shelter or non-profit group that needs volunteers and make a commitment to help.
3. Create for a Higher Purpose
Creativity can be a silent, but strong force in our lives. Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and wondered exactly what you did? We have so many distractions with social media that hours can vanish before our eyes after jumping on Facebook for a "quick" look.
I know that I've had many a day where I've just responded to emails and little fires that have come at me. I feel like I'm just reacting all day. That can really deplete you, and also just leave you feeling unfulfilled, so that's a perfect time to move into creation mode.
Creation can take many forms like cooking a meal for your family, or the family next door who has an over-stressed single mom working two demanding jobs. Perhaps you like to sing and want to take your talents to a senior center where others can enjoy and sing along.
Creation tied to purpose is really powerful. Creating a new organizational system for your jewelry may be personally rewarding, but building bookshelves for a school in need takes it to another level. Giving to a higher cause can bring meaning to your life and also to those you're helping.
If you're not ready to take on homelessness in your city, perhaps you want to get more involved at your child's school. Put your talents to work for the greater good and everyone wins.
4. Eat Well and Exercise
We all spend a lot of time in our heads, mulling over the same problems and issues every day. One of the best ways to get out of your head is to exercise. Daily movement is so important to your overall wellbeing. You don't need to do the latest hardcore CrossFit workout to get a mind-body benefit. Take a 30-minute brisk walk, garden, dance! If you grab a friend for a bike ride, you can tackle two of your five things to do every day to be happy in one fell swoop.
I love to use Groupon and ClassPass to try new fitness classes. I've found great deals on Groupon for Zumba, hot yoga, spinning, and next up is aerial yoga! ClassPass also lets you use different studios around town for a variety of classes at great prices.
You can also check out your local community college or fitness center for reasonably priced class offerings. Doing some form of exercise every day is a great way to get out of your head and into a more creative state. Then there's also the amazing health benefits of daily movement. You'll find that you're more relaxed and present afterward, and bonus, your body will be fitter and you'll be able to sleep better at night.
In addition to moving your body, you need to make sure you're putting the best fuel in that you can. You know I'm a big believer in a clean eating diet. I don't believe in starving your body and trying a bunch of gimmicks. I believe in eating real food in its most natural state.
Sauteed kale is always going to be a better choice than deep fried kale chips. Listen to your body. If it wants to shut down and go into a food coma after eating something, you might want to avoid eating that food item again. Food should fuel your body, not crash it. I have more than a few recipes to keep you inspired.
5. Quiet the Mind and Center
Some of my most frazzled days have included me driving home, having no memory of how I got there. Sometimes the daily to-do list can be long and we're checking one item off the list with a foot in the next, not being present for either. Taking time for quiet each day will help you be more present for everyone around you.
I had meditation on my list of things to learn for about ten years before I actually took a class. Now I'm hooked. Meditation allows you to see exactly where you're placing your thoughts and with practice, it allows you to release them to quiet the mind. There are some great free meditation apps that can help you find your quiet like Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm. Just sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes with no distractions can bring an overall calm to the body.
Another way to quiet the mind is to jump into a favorite hobby or task, assuming it doesn't involve a lot of critical thinking. Maybe you like to paint, cook, or write poetry. Simply getting into an immersive "flow state" allows the mind to relax.
Getting in nature and being surrounded by a forest full of trees can help you slow down and put life in perspective. One of my favorite ways to ground down is to simply take a few long, slow deep breaths. Start by counting to four on an inhale, followed by an equal exhale can be a great way to feel calm and present.
You need to give your brain some time off to quiet and center. Everyone around you will thank you. And hopefully you'll thank yourself for practicing these five things every day to be happy.
If you want to dive much deeper into creating better health and more happiness in your life, contact me to discuss one-on-one coaching. We can discuss your food, behavior, and thoughts to create a personalized roadmap to your health and happiness.
Do you have a favorite practice you need to do everyday to feel happy and centered? Maybe you've had luck with one of the practices above? Let me know in the comments below.