Life is what you make it. What you think, you become. We hear these statements all the time, and we see our friends and followers promoting it on our timelines in the form of memes and Facebook statuses. But how many of us actually understand the weight that the above statements carry?
We’re all stressed out. We’ve got to graduate, get jobs, keep jobs, find spouses, stay healthy, feed our families. It never ends, and our brains never stop. These constant pressures have an adverse effect on our minds, and consequently, the level of happiness we feel in our lives. Luckily, there are ways you can combat stress and negativity to be the happiest YOU possible. Here are a few of my favourites:
One of the main factors attributing to our stress is our inability to live in the present. Instead of enjoying the company of our loved ones or indulging in those mouthwatering meals sitting before us, we’re Instagramming and Snapchatting on our phones (totally guilty).
We’re never mentally there. Think about it: if we’re not stressed over something that happened in the past, then we’re worried about what could happen in the future.
Did you know that we spend nearly 47 percent of our time lost in thought? That’s half, peeps. Rarely do we acknowledge the present and our place within it.
Meditation allows you to step outside of yourself and accept all thoughts without judgement. Take a few minutes out of your day to allow the mind and body to rest. Whether you have an hour or just five minutes to spare, you can use that time to quiet the mind. You can choose from a library of guided meditation tracks on YouTube, or you can simply sit in silence. It’s all up to you!
2. Put a smile on that face of yours.
Screw makeup. As the saying goes, a smile is the most beautiful thing you can wear. If there’s one thing that connects all human beings to one another, it’s revealing those pearly whites. We don’t have to speak the same language as our neighbours to feel the sincere, comforting effects of a smile flashed our way. The muscle movement itself is thought to have a positive effect on the brain.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that both smiles and laughs are contagious. If I ever got in trouble in school, it was because I couldn’t hold in a laugh. And the muscle soreness in your jaw and stomach that results from laughter always feels pretty good, if I do say so myself. Apparently a smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as receiving 16,000 pounds in cash. Do not ever underestimate the power of a smile.
3. Give yourself praise.
And yes, I mean actually talk to yourself. Take a look in the mirror. What do you see? A stunning, capable individual who will overcome any obstacles thrown his or her way. Take note of all those unique physical traits you would normally call “flaws” and embrace them. Congratulate yourself for setting milestones and reaching them. Sure, you could always do better, but if that’s your prime focus, then success will never feel as though it has been achieved.
It’s nice enough to receive these compliments from others, but you’ll only start to absorb them when you truly believe them and hear them from yourself.
4. Make time for the things you love.
Setting aside time for your hobbies is a great happiness booster. Go to the gym more, play video games, cook, craft. Do whatever it is you have to do to feel that temporary sense of relief from that frenzied thing we call life. Hobbies keep your mind active, but also allow you to remove yourself from the stress that results from having to go to work or school every day.
You do hobbies because you love them. You love them because they make you happy. Therefore you should do hobbies because they make you happy. BAM, I rest my case.
5. Sleep a little more.
Because we always have so much on our plates, we tend to compromise the amount of sleep we should get every night (which is approximately eight hours, if you didn’t know).
At one point or another, we have all felt irritable, lethargic, or overly anxious due to lack of sleep. Numerous studies have shown how substantial an impact sleep deprivation has on our overall health. And we are all aware of what effect it has on our moods.
Stream the episodes of your favourite show some other time. Pass on that bar crawl, for there will be many others. As Jim Rohn says, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
6. “Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.” -Proverb
In other words, be grateful. Practicing gratitude greatly increases your happiness levels. This trains your brain to scan for positives in your everyday life, instead of constantly finding things that are wrong.
You can do this by writing down a couple of things you’re thankful for every day, or simply being mindful of said things. Think intangible, not material.
7. Surround yourself with positive people.
No Negative Nancys or Debbie Downers allowed. Spend time with people who uplift and support you. Negative energy is just as infectious as the flu. Seeing our loved ones hurt or upset makes us want to cry. Hearing “Move, b*tch, get out the way!” makes us want to fight (well, not all of us). It is clear how outside stimuli can tamper with our tempers, so you can see how being around positive people can make you the happiest you.
Choose those who look at a glass of wine or beer as half full rather than half empty. There’s a big difference between a pessimist and a realist. A pessimist is just trying to ruin the fun.
8. Be kind.
There’s something that makes you feel good inside when you’re able to put a smile on another person’s face. Random acts of kindness are a great way to make not only others happy, but yourself too. This is not just about volunteering your time, but also shaping the way you think and speak about others. And the fact that the person’s not in the room is no excuse to run that mouth.
Lessening how much we gossip will do the trick. We should try our best not to judge and speak ill of others. Yes, we’re all human and we can’t help it. But, it’s worth a shot to try. Being kind is a soul-cleansing in and of itself.
When we’re happy, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into our brains, which is why it is usually linked to the brain’s “pleasure center.” This, in turn, switches on all the learning centers in our brains, leaving us more energetic, creative, intelligent, and, yes, happy!
We are constantly exposed to negativity thanks to the news and all other forms of media. We come across a number of obstacles in our own lives that tend to bring us down. The world is full of terror, hunger, sickness and cultural divides. I am by no means saying that we should turn a blind eye to it all.
As Good Think Inc. CEO Shawn Achor puts it, only “ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. If we can change our formula for happiness and success, what we could do is change the way that we can then affect reality.”
We have no control over what happens to us in life, but we can change the way we experience those occurrences. Let’s change our perceptions of the world, one brain at a time.
As Mr. Leo Tolstoy once said, “If you want to be happy, be.”