“Don’t Worry – Be Happy.” It sounds cliché and is easier said than done. Especially when we’re in the midst of something we feel is robbing us of our joy.
Difficult times are an unfortunate part of life, but they are also opportunities for growth. Many of us believe, even if unconsciously, that our personal happiness is the result of our circumstances, but happiness is a choice – and it can be cultivated.
Here are some ways to increase your everyday joy:
Accentuate your positives.
Identify your strengths and try focusing on them daily. If you’re reasonably self-aware, you probably already have a good idea of what they are. The key is to find situations in which to use them each day. Studies show that happiness increases and depression decreases when a person uses his or her individual strengths regularly. For example, if your strengths are humor, kindness, and appreciation of beauty, look for ways to use them throughout your day; chances are you’ll feel more joyful.
Invest in experiences.
I happen to be a person who derives more joy from experiences than things, so most of my recreational money is spent on travel, food, and performing arts, rather than new gadgets or toys. Regardless of income levels, enjoyed experiences can be better investments in terms of happiness than acquiring material goods. Just as a new car begins losing its value as soon as it leaves the lot, “stuff” begins decreasing in “happiness value” almost as soon as it’s purchased. Experiences, however, have multiple emotional benefits.
- The anticipation, itself, of an experience can produce feelings of excitement and joy.
- Talking about the experience afterward can regenerate happy memories, and sharing positive experiences with friends can actually boost their happiness, too.
- There’s no opportunity to “get used to” an experience; it occurs in a limited time frame. We generally don‘t become bored with new experiences the same way we do with new stuff.
Learn to savor.
Savoring is the act of momentarily stepping outside of an experience to review and appreciate it while it’s happening — and, paradoxically, it’s a way of helping you stay more present in it. Learning to savor an experience can extend the enjoyment of it.
Try to find a moment to savor each day and share that experience with someone else. Actively looking for and anticipating these moments can elevate your happiness quotient.
Spread the love.
If you’re generally a thankful person and readily express appreciation, your happiness levels increase. It is an easy thing to practice. Make a list of five things you’re grateful for and then simply reflect on them during the day. Doing this even once a week can increase feelings of joy and gratitude and reduce symptoms of ill health.
Additionally, performing random acts of kindness is another way to promote happiness. Many of us have had the experience of receiving more joy spending money on others than on ourselves. God’s Word bears this out in Acts 20:35, where Paul states that the “Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Simple gestures such as buying a friend a greeting card “just because” or a cup of coffee for a stranger can boost happiness levels. So, pay it forward.
The road to happiness
It’s as much about the journey as the destination. Remembering to regularly do the things you already know are beneficial to your well-being; such as exercising daily, eating well, and getting enough sleep are essential. But developing new habits that will lead you to feel consistently better is the goal here; so, why not choose one or two above and try them. Your happiness will be the reward.