Take These 4 Steps for More Happiness Now
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”
Let your happiness expand this week. Plan on it, and then take steps to arrive there.
For some, happiness feels elusive. Just out of reach. A tomorrow that never arrives.
To others, happiness is a regular occurrence. It’s their natural disposition.
You might find yourself somewhere between this spectrum — happy sometimes, or not, depending on the day. No matter where you are, it’s great to know that we can simple steps can lead to consistent joy. Joy on tap!
Recent research by Robert Epstein, PhD, founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavior Studies, find that as much as a quarter of our overall happiness rests on our ability to manage stress — and that planning our days effectively can help us do just that.
After analyzing the results of an online questionnaire completed by more than 3,000 people from dozens of countries, Epstein found planning ahead to avoid stress had by far the greatest health and mood benefits, besting other strategies including relaxation techniques and thoughts management.
“If you can prevent stress from happening by planning, you’re going to be much better off,” he says. “Because once the stress is there, it doesn’t matter how good you are at deep breathing or meditating — you’re going to be affected by it.”
Here’s 4 tips that you can use today to steer clear of the stress before it starts:
- Make a list. What are your 3 “daily musts” — things that, once you check them off, will make today a “win!”
- Prioritize. What’s the best way to approach your “musts?” Get ‘em done!
- Break down big tasks. Few things feel as paralyzing as huge, amorphous tasks like “clean out the garage.” Break big projects into 15-minute tasks that give you a sense of forward momentum. For example, “Box up old toys for Goodwill” and clear out top shelf.”
- Celebrate each accomplishment! As you check off task, feel the satisfaction that comes along with it. When we achieve something of value, our brains release dopamine to reinforce the reward pathway. Each subsequent achievement brings more feelings of accomplishment — but only if we allow the space to FEEL IT.
We always have those big (and little) things to do each day. Creating a habit of doing, then celebrating, each one unlocks the door to more joy. When we’re aware of what needs to be done, we can take action.
From here, happiness is always just a few steps away.
Stress Release Tip
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Especially when it comes to work at home; the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, putting the kids’ toys away, cooking dinner, shopping for groceries; it can be easy to fall into the habit of doing it all on your own. Asking for help can bring the family together and give you a rest. Both good things.
To be mindful is to be aware of how you are feeling, how you are sitting, what you are thinking, what you are doing — all at once. How? Well, first, slow down. For the next few minutes, do everything three times more slowly than normal. Feel your muscles engage, notice your thoughts. What are you aware of?