These are the happiness habits that changed my life. They're so easy anyone can do them!
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No matter what it is you want in life, we're all after the same thing ultimately - to be happy! In this post, I'll discuss the following simple-but-powerful happiness habits that made a huge difference for me:
Happiness Habit #1 Revaluate Your To-Do List
One of the hardest happiness habits for me was learning to say no. I’ve been a people-pleasing overachiever most of my life, so I don’t like the idea of letting anyone down. Plus, I’m a very driven person. I enjoy being productive.
I don’t enjoy feeling burned out, though.
I kept piling things onto my plate, thinking that I was the problem. If I could just learn better time-management, if I moved faster, maybe if I slept less… Um, no. The plate that was piled sky-high was the problem, not me.
The issue was that I simply had too many things on my to-do list. It didn’t matter if I marked off twenty-five things in a day because I was adding a hundred new ones each time I marked something off.
And then, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I would just stop trying altogether. If I couldn’t keep up with the impossible list, then I would ignore it.
Well, that’s not so healthy either.
Thankfully, I finally figured out this thing called balance. I slip up sometimes and fall back into old habits, but for the most part I’m much happier now.
For some things, I had to learn to delegate. I know, I know. Every control freak reading this just had an eye twitch. For other things, I just took them off the list altogether. Many things on your list are not actually half as important as you think they are. That's why you need to take a little break sometimes and then look at the list with fresh eyes.
A few other little tricks to consider if you’re struggling with a massive to-do list: Write down more basic things that you need to do such as brush your teeth or make dinner. That way, you get the satisfaction of marking them off. Also, it’s a subtle way of reminding you how full your day already is so you don't add too much on top of it.
I have a friend who swears by this tactic: Use a notebook and on the left page, write down your to-do list at the beginning of the day. Then, at the end of the day, on the right page, write down everything you actually did that day, including all the things that weren't on the original list. That’s a more blatant way to register everything you’re doing.
Lastly, be sure to include fun things on the list! Read a few chapters of a book, watch TV, paint my nails… These are actual things I regularly write on my to-do list. It’s called self care.
Most importantly, give yourself permission to do less. You might benefit from this article, too: The Real Reason You Complain
Happiness Habit #2 - Use a Gratitude Journal
My gratitude journal is actually a hardcover sketchbook. I got the idea for this specific notebook from Clark Kegley on Youtube. He has a lot of in-depth ideas about journaling if that’s something you’re into. For this post, I’m going to keep it really simple.
I like to journal fairly early in the morning just because it helps set the tone for the day. Something that’s really nice is that I can do this even when my kids are awake.
Many mornings, I cuddle by the window with my favorite electric blanket and and my toddler in my lap. He’ll play with blocks or watch his iPad while I write. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
Each page is a little different, depending on what I’m in the mood for. I might write “GRATITUDE” in big letters across the top and then fill the page with detailed sentences about what I’m thankful for that day. Other times I just write ‘I’m thankful for…” in the middle and for the rest of the page, I just write short phrases.
Sometimes I use plain black ink and some days I choose a different color for each new thought. (Side note, did you know you could buy erasable pens?!) I include anything from special moments that happened with my kids to a new nail polish color I’m excited about.
The point, of course, is that it’s not about whether your handwriting is neat or if you’re spelling out every detail of your thoughts. The goal is to simply spend that time focusing on what you’re thankful for. You want to actually feel the emotion of appreciation as you write.
It might take a few days to really get into the habit, but if you stick with it the results will definitely be noticeable. What’s tricky about this is you don’t want to do it out of obligation, because that’s negative energy and kinda defeats the purpose. That said, it may not always feel fun in the beginning and you should stick with it anyway.
Much like a physical exercise, it gets better once you warm up.
Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the important happiness habits because it makes you realize how much you may be taking for granted, but it also attracts those same positive aspects for your future. So for that reason, don’t just write what you think you’re supposed to say. List the things you genuinely appreciate.
Happiness Habit #3 Replace Multitasking with Mindfulness
We’ve been conditioned to believe that multitasking is helpful, but it’s usually what’s sabotaging us.
I think the key to this happiness habit is realizing when it’s the good kind of multitasking. Taking your kids to the park to play while you get in some exercise at the same time? Great! Eating while watching a movie? Not so bad. Trying to cook while answering emails and helping your kid with homework and also feeding the cat and doing the dishes? Well, no wonder you’re stressed!
Practicing mindfulness helps you complete a task more quickly and with better quality results, which leads to less stress. But more than that, when you’re actively paying attention to what you’re doing, you enjoy it more. And that’s what happiness is, isn’t it? Enjoyment.
When you’re rushing around trying to accomplish a billion things at once, you naturally feel frazzled. When you slow down and do them one at a time, you’ll find that mundane tasks like putting away laundry can be a source of relaxation or pleasure.
#4 Meditation as a Happiness Habit
Meditation goes hand in hand with mindfulness, and the more you practice one of them, the better you automatically become at the other one.
You knew this one was going to be on the list, didn’t you? It feels like everyone these days is preaching the benefits of meditation (and for good reason). But knowing something is good for you and actually applying it are two different things.
There’s already a shit ton of helpful information out there about meditation, so I won’t bog down this article with the subject. I mostly just wanted to let you know two things.
One is that personally it has absolutely made a difference in my life. Meditation has dramatically improved my anxiety and my mom burnout, among other things. Secondly, don’t be intimidated by it. A lot of people feel like they’re “not good at it” so they won’t even try it or they give up too soon. The truth is, there is no wrong way to meditate.
You can lie down, sit up, keep your eyes open or your eyes closed, do it in the morning or the afternoon, listen to a guided meditation or focus on your breath or listen to the sound of rain or watch the flame of a candle or envision yourself on an island or in an empty room or…
Or rotate through all of those options every day! The goal is to take just 15 minutes a day to focus and clear your mind a bit. It’s pretty easy and you can totally do it, I promise.
#5 Play the I-Hope-So Game
A lot of us have accidentally trained ourselves to be negative. It’s a self-preservation thing. If you don’t get your hopes up then you never get disappointed, right?
That’s what I used to believe. I was so afraid of “jinxing” everything. Now I realize that I was actually inviting negative things into my life and literally preventing a lot of good stuff from happening.
If any of that resonates with you, you’ll need to reprogram your mind a bit. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to make an immediate switch from living in a state of constant worry and doubt to feeling frequent excitement and positive belief.
That’s where the I-Hope-So game comes in as a perfect happiness habit. It’s a good bridge.
Start slowly. Whenever a nice thought comes up or a friend makes an enticing suggestion, pause for a moment. Instead of leaning into your default setting of yeah, right, that’ll never happen, you need to transition into wouldn’t that be nice?
That’s all you have to do. For 17 whole seconds let yourself think about how nice it would be if you could… go to the beach, get a promotion, win the lottery, meet someone special…
Whatever it is, just retrain your mind from I doubt it to I hope so… Because, A) having a little faith will make it a lot more likely for those things to happen, and B) most importantly, feeling a little more hopeful a lot more often will make you a happier person even if none of those things ever panned out.
This post was about building new happiness habits. Here are others that may help you!
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A little side note:
While these are my own words and my own interpretations, I am heavily influenced by Abraham Hicks and Seth/Jane Roberts, and I always highly recommend their materials. You can see a list of books by clicking here. If you want further information, feel free to reach out.