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There are certain ways we look at happiness that can either enhance or taint our experiences with how we approach it. Some might think of a couple of things they might want when pursuing happiness while others would argue it is more about the moments that create happiness. While happiness is most definitely a great feeling, it’s important to note how our perception influences the experience. In my journey, I have found it helpful to maintain healthy habits while approaching life with a sense of purpose. After all, what is happiness without purpose? There are several psychology hacks to help you be happier and by making them a habit, purpose comes naturally.
You don’t have to be a gym rat to benefit from this game changing lifehack. There are so many fun ways to get in some regular exercise whether you choose to run on the beach, take a yoga class, hike in the woods, ride your bike or learn martial arts. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain as well as serotonin levels which can help combat depression and increase positive psychological results. Not only does your brain feel good, but the sense of accomplishment you notice after completing an exercise goes a long way. You can make it even more fun and invite a friend to share the experience with.
Quality Time with Loved Ones
It’s important we spend time with the ones we love as often as we can. Even if your schedule is packed with work meetings and other obligations, setting aside a moment to call a cousin and catch up can do wonders in feeling happier. If you look at people who are approaching the end of their days, the most common regret is not spending enough time with the ones they love. While it might slip our minds to clear blocks of our schedule to spend quality time, it’s the little things that remind us we are not alone and that we are truly looked after. Call your cousin or meet up with your aunt for lunch. A little time goes a long way and you'll feel so much happier you did it.
Less Screen Time
This seems to be a growing issue as technology continues to advance. We have the world at our fingertips whether it be accessing information on our laptops or escaping into a the universe of a video game. Technology is a great resource, but it’s important to remember balance. When we create a long term habit of spending unnecessary amounts of time on our phones or in front of the television, we create patterns that can cause more harm than good. By spending less time in front of our screens we open opportunities to smile at strangers as we walk down the street and decrease the need to fall on our phones as a crutch in awkward situations. Experiencing the world around us in its fullest form allows us to be present in the moment. You'll start feeling the difference right away.
You are what you eat and if you eat junk, chances are you’ll feel like it too. While eating well can improve heart conditions and promote weight loss, there are studies that show having a healthy gut promotes a healthy mind. When you eat whole grains, leafy greens and other healthy varieties you promote a clear channel of communication from the nervous system in your gut to the system in your brain. Starting your day with a balanced meal sets the trajectory of your day to be filled with happiness driven by purpose.
Getting a good night of rest should be a top priority. Not only is it one of the most optimal periods of time for restoration, but research shows that one fifth of our circulatory blood travels to our brain as we drift off. This allows our brain to go through an intensive period of restructuring, filtering of the days activities and preparing us for the day ahead. If you skimp on sleep or indulge in too much of it you ultimately sell yourself short prohibit the chances of functioning at your highest level in increasing your happiness. Keep the phone out of your bedroom and limit screen time as the night approaches for a welcomed deep sleep.
Noted from Plato’s Apology, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This is especially true when it comes to increasing happiness levels. When we take the time to introspect on our day, thoughts and emotions we create a space where we can build on ourselves for improvement. Reflection is one of the psychology hacks to help you be happier in the sense that you become aware of the changes you need to make in for increased life satisfaction. There are so many ways to go about it whether you decide to start a bullet journal to relieve anxiety and depression or record your thoughts orally.
Learning a New Skill
Learning a new skill is a core component when it comes to increasing happiness levels. Our species has a natural calling to learning new skills. Psychologists call this mastery. When we learn a new skill, we open ourselves up to creativity. Ideas start to surge through our minds and we are giving to the world. It also helps in social environments where you might even make a new friend over a shared connection.
Spending Time in Nature
There’s something about the stillness in nature that makes us feel like we are back home. Scientists are finding more and more evidence that going for a walk in nature reduces anxiety and stress while increasing our creativity and connectivity with others. From an evolutionary perspective, we are well acquainted with the forest and this isn't the only reason why we need to experience the outdoors more. As we advance in the modern age it is important we find ways to root down and remember where we came from. Happiness is found within and nature allows us to channel that space.
Meditation is growing in popularity and psychological science as people are learning how to implement techniques in their everyday lives. Research shows that meditation increases grey matter in the brain which is linked to happiness. By focusing on our breath, we bring ourselves into the present moment and allow thoughts to come and go. If this is something foreign to you, I recommend you stop reading for a moment. Close your eyes and draw your attention to the area between your eyebrows. Take in five deep breaths. How did that feel? Take it from there and perhaps you might want to make this habit for three minutes every day. There are many meditations techniques for specific topics like reducing anxiety and healing wounds.
When we get stuck it’s almost as if we forget to wonder and this causes us to look at things in a set way. Curiosity is another main component in finding a deeper sense of purpose and increase happiness levels. When you are curious, your brain automatically begins to produce serotonin as the motivation to learn about a specific topic activates the reward system.
These psychology hacks to help you be happier are based on a state of being rather than a state of desire for material possessions or needs like more time or a better body. Slowly building up consistent habits that remind us of the importance of the little things bring into our lives, we live through purpose while increasing happiness along the way.