The Happiness Habits
We all just want to be happy, don’t we? We buy things, meet people, and go places that we think will make us happy. Happiness is the driving force in all that we want, say, and do, isn’t it?
But the truth of the matter is that most people aren’t that happy. They constantly chase happiness, only to have it evade them, as if it’s some moving target. They buy new cars to make them happy; they travel to far-off destinations to make them happy; and they move to a different city just to find some happiness.
So, if “thing” don’t make us happy, what does?
Well, social scientists have been obsessed with this question for some time now. Recently, studies have concluded that happiness comes from three different components; your genes, events in your life, and your values. About 50% of your happiness is hard-coded into your DNA. So, if your mood is generally sour, it could have more to do with nature than nurture.
Studies have further suggested that 40% of our happiness comes from the events in our lives, but it’s only temporary. Happiness after scoring a dream job, or buying a dream car, or moving into your dream house, only last so long. Our base line of happiness – our Hedonic Set Point – is always reverted to after a short time.
So, long-lasting happiness is the kind that comes from within; it’s the kind that stems from your values. Those values are translated through our habits. Whether it’s work habits, family habits, success habits, faith habits, or any other kind of habit, habits are things under our control, which help to determine our overall level of happiness.
What Habits Make us Happy?
If you want to be happy, the truth of the matter is that it comes from within. No amount of money, job, connections, or any other personal gain is going to give long-lasting happiness. Sure, winning the lottery might make you happy for a few months, but studies have suggested that lottery winnings, or other financial windfalls, actually lead to more unhappiness than happiness.
So, what do you have to do on a daily basis to make yourself happy?
I’ve boiled it down to 12 core habits that are going to make you happy. By employing these habits on a daily basis, you will be happy. But keep in mind that habits don’t develop overnight. It takes an average of 66 days for a habit to become part of you. However, once a habit has become a consistent part of your life, it will become an unconscious routine of behavior. But getting there is hard.
So, what are the 12 habits?
#1 – Smile
The act of smiling causes not only a physical transformation in your face, but it also causes an emotional and mental transformation as well. A study from 2011 by Michigan State University concluded that who workers who cultivated positive thoughts and smiled because of it, were more likely to exhibit enhanced moods and less signs of withdrawal.
#2 – Be Resilient
One of the biggest discouragements in life is failure. When we fail at something we want so badly, it can deal a deathblow to our overall moods, and significantly decrease our propensity for happiness. But resilient people know how to bounce back. They can take failure on the chin, stand back up, and keep fighting for their dreams.
#3 – See the Good in a Situation
It’s easy to get discouraged in life, especially when things don’t seem to go your way. But seeing the good in any situation can is a vital habit for happiness. There’s always a reason that we could choose to be unhappy by what’s going on around us. But that’s just it: happiness is a choice. Think about the lens of a camera for a moment. Your life is like that lens. What you point it at is what you will see.
#4 – Exercise
15 or 20 minutes a day is all you need for exercise to make you happy. That short period helps to stimulate blood flow, decrease blood pressure, and drive the pleasure-seeking endorphins to the brain. Also, exercise is a keystone habit, helping to bolster other positive habits as this habit takes hold.
#5 – Express Gratitude
On a daily basis, gratitude sends a powerful signal to the brain. When you express gratitude, making it a habit, you seek out everything in life that you have to be thankful for. It’s easy to want things, but it’s harder to be grateful for the things that we already have. According to the Journal of Science and Behavior, grateful people tend to appreciate the simple pleasures in life.
#6 – Nurture Meaningful Relationships
Often, when we’re chasing our dreams, we tend to forget about everything else around us, including the people. But, in order to achieve long-term happiness, we have to nurture meaningful relationships. Build the habit of spending time networking or maintaining existing relationships with the important people around you. Don’t forget others as you pursue your dreams.
#7 – Keep Promises
Integrity is an important happiness habit. If you make a promise to someone, no matter how little or big, keep that promise. This goes from debt repayment, to the simple act of meeting someone at a pre-arranged time. Keep your promises to people, otherwise, they’ll distrust you. Often, all we have is our word, which can be a powerful bond. But when broken, it can lead to misery and despair.
#8 – Be Honest
In a book called, The Millionaire Mind, author Jon Stanley states that one lie must be covered up with 15 supporting lies. Those 15 lies each have to be covered up with 15 lies each, and so on. Lying takes a lot of work, and can eventually get you into hot water. Practice the habit of always being honest no matter what. It will allow you to lead a much happier and stress-free life overall.
#9 – Be Spiritually Connected
Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, or a singular energy that connects us all, being spiritually connected is a happiness habit that should be at the core of any person’s life. This doesn’t mean you have to go to church, temple, or a mosque every morning or every week. It just means that you have to spiritually connected to whatever you do believe in. Take the time each day to build this habit.
#10 – Be Present
It’s easy to worry about the past or dread the future. But happy people are more present in the here-and-now. Happiness is a state that can be achieved by anyone. All they have to do is allow happiness to enter their lives, and look around and see all the beauty that life has to offer. Practice being present by taking walks and listening to the birds or simply stopping to smell the flowers.
#11 – Be Forgiving
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to hold a grudge. Happy people are far more forgiving. Realize that everyone in this world makes mistakes, and that we are ourselves have done so on occasion. So, don’t hold grudges. Forgive people and you can channel that anger into love, which will positively affect all aspects of your life.
#12 – Laugh
Taking life too seriously is never a good recipe for happiness. Being too serious helps to bolster stress, worry, fear, and anxiety. Don’t take everything so seriously. Learn to laugh at certain situations and in turn breed happiness in your life. Don’t let things overwhelm and consume you. Laugh at them instead and learn from them.