I’ll start by going over the Top 10 Habits That Make You Happier according to AskMen.com. When you click through the slideshow on that sight they give an explanation for why a particular habit makes you happier, which I’ll summarize here.
- Treat Exercise As A Non-Negotiable
Exercise is quite obvious for improving health and making you feel better. Make sure to include a variety of different exercise which target all different muscle groups.
- Have Regular Sex
This one is also kind of a no brainer.
“Dartmouth researchers studying the health benefits of sex found that increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week led to an increase in happiness equivalent to that generated by an additional $50,000 in income to the average American.”
So if there isn’t any sex in your life right now, this study should be motivation.
- Get Sunlight Every Day
Whenever its sunnier outside than usual… you’ll know what you should do. There are scientific studies which conclude that sunshine is good for elevating your mood, and I had trouble finding a study which contradicted this. Basically, everyone knows what SAD is and what its caused by. I thought it was possible that its mostly a cultural thing (“Cloudy skies are dark and gloomy, sunny days are bright and happy!”) but its very likely that weather directly impacts our moods for scientific reasons.
- Unplug To Relax
Take a mental break if a quick nap isn’t possible, such as with yoga or meditation.
- Take A Nap
Make sure to not take a nap that is too long, or you might feel crummy about it and you’ll disrupt your sleep at night if you do. So be sure to set your alarm so you don’t lay in bed for too long.
- Try One New Hobby Every Three Months
This can be a way to make new friends, diversify your own set of hobbies, and give you something to look forward to as well as break the usual routine.
- Plan out your social activities four days in advance
The writers on AskMen admitted this is kind of a stretch but planning ahead like this can help you to determine positive experiences in your relationships.
- Schedule Your Vacations Two Months In Advance
“According to a 2010 study that followed 974 Dutch vacationers, going on a vacation doesnt improve your happiness at all, at least not after youve returned. But the benefit lies in the weeks leading up to your vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for a full eight weeks.”
I don’t necessarily agree that it won’t improve your happiness after the vacation takes place. If you have a fun and awesome trip, you’re left with great memories. (which can help with gratitude) Some self discovery might even take place while you’re away, so a lot of it depends on what you might do to benefit from the trip.
- Plan Out Your Meals For The Week
AskMen focused on the nutritional benefits of planning your meals, but as you know it can be a great way to save money as well. If you go hours without eating and you don’t even have your next meal planned, you might find yourself at McDonald’s stuffing your face with empty calories and feeling lousy later on.
- Make daily lists/updates of short-term and long-term goals
If you live your life not having any specific plans or long term goals, you probably won’t accomplish a whole lot at any level.
On Yahoo Shine there is an article called 5 habits of happy people even the biggest grump can borrow which was shorter and more general than the list above. This article recommend that you Reach out family and friends often, be thankful, pursue your own passions in life, make due with what you have, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life rather than just pursuing the harder to get things like expensive luxuries. Some people might read this and think “Well, thats common sense, isn’t it?” and then they might go about their day engaging in the same negative thinking and unhealthy habits they’re so used to doing. If you’re reading this article because you want to be happier, you need to remember that happiness isn’t such an easy emotion to have, but anger and other negative emotions are. Don’t expect your life to change overnight; even something simple like accepting your relapses can help bring you closer to where you want to be.
This list of 7 habits of really happy people goes over some things that they former mentioned lists didn’t really get into.
- Dont care what others think
People who flat out say “I don’t give a f!@#” are probably happier than those who never say so. Indifference about what other people may or may not think of you is an awesome way to feel free. I recommend having some class about how you deal with other people, because rudeness has its drawbacks as well. But it can be fun to be blunt with people who have ridiculous expectations.
- Always looking at the bright side of things
Remember that there are things you don’t have control over, such as mistakes which you already made that can’t be fixed.
- Being friendly
If you’re friendly but not intrusive people will like you more and you’ll probably end up having higher self esteem.
“If you know a friendly person who is always making fun of others to bring them down, then they arent truly happy person. Theres something inside of them that they are insecure about.”
I don’t necessarily agree with this. Who is to say what it means to be “truly happy.” Remember to not try and look for comfort by suggesting that mean people must have low self esteem (or some other judgment which you might not be able to confirm.) Instead, you should take the bull by the horns whenever possible.
- Laugh & Smile
Laughter and smiles release endorphins which help boost your mood.
- Live in the moment
I’m sure that we all know too many people who are waiting for better circumstances in their life to have fun and be happy. Happy people don’t wait around for things to change, they make use of every minute they can to enjoy themselves.
- Push aside their troubles
There is room in life for seriousness, because if we were never serious there would just be chaos and life would cease to be. But happy people are able to not put too much stock into problems that won’t change anytime soon.
- Laugh in the face of fear
Its only worth being fearful if that fear will cause you to take the best action possible, now isn’t it? But this takes the right amount of fear and every situation is different. Fear is a negative emotion which should generally be avoided to be happier.
This list of 7 Habits of Highly Happy People is similar to the list above, but I’ll go over some things which weren’t covered yet.
- Be a Part of Something You Believe In
Clearly, this brings happiness and meaning to your own life. The social interaction is part of why this is.
- Exploit the Resources You DO Have Access To
This goes hand in hand with the point of making do with what you already have, but its a little more specific. As an example, most handicapped people are perfectly capable of being happy despite their obvious limitations.
- Create Happy Endings Whenever Possible
Can you think of a time when you were having a good time with your friends or something, and towards the end something really unpleasant happened? Other than not preferring it to happen at all, wouldn’t you have rather it happened at the beginning just to get it out of the way? If a friend or family member died, wouldn’t it be especially sad if they last interaction you had with them was a fight? Well, I suppose that if the fight made you hate them enough you could end up grieving less. The point being is that people remember endings. Endings are what wrap things up, and like stories they’re usually the most important part of an event or journey.
- Use Personal Strengths to Get Things Done
Again, this is similar to the point made about making due with what you have. Your own skillsets are a part of your identity. As it says on the website,
“If this achievement is based exclusively on your own personal ability to get the job done, the physiological rewards are priceless.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
I’ll recommend some unconventional advice on becoming happier. The reasons for being unhappy vary, but one possible reason is that you might be too nice. A few years ago I read a book by Martin Kihn called A$$hole: How I Got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a Shit About You. This man has made himself very clear… “I was the nicest guy in the world… and it was killing me.” He endeavored to become a kind of person which is generally despised by the general public: an asshole. As the title of the book implies, he actually did become happy and wealthier as a result. This is not to say that he necessarily engages in a lot of asshole behavior at this time.
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