Recently I ran across an interesting little article listing the top 50 things that make people happy! It was actually the results of a poll taken in Britain and the results were quite intriguing! Bottom line: It really is the SIMPLE THINGS that make us the MOST HAPPY.
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Here are the top 10 “good mood triggers” according to a poll of 3,000 adults: (to read the other 40…scroll to the bottom of the post.)
1. Finding a £10 note (roughly $16 in the US) in an old pair of jeans.
2. Going on holiday/vacation.
3. Getting into a bed with freshly washed sheets.
4. Swimming in the sea. (I concur!!!)
5. Waking up on a sunny day.
6. Sitting in the sun.
7. Being surprised with a gift or flowers.
8. Getting a nice message from a loved one.
10. Receiving a thank-you card in the mail.
This list got me thinking about the pursuit of happiness. I know sometimes it can feel like our happiness is at the mercy of outside influences we have no control over, but there are actually some VERY SIMPLE things we can do to make our lives happier! I did a lot of searching and reading on the subject and what follows is a compilation of 16 SIMPLE ways to be happier….starting right now.
1. Be Grateful…And Keep A Journal Of It
Start with just one line a day in a “Gratitude Journal”. Include the smallest details (putting on comfy clothes after a long day of work), or the biggest blessings (your health, your family). Just a few seconds a day is all it takes and research has found that people who get into the habit of writing down good things that have happened to them every week show a significant rise in happiness.
2. Be Social…And I’m NOT talking MEDIA
Call at least one friend or family member a day. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that socializing with our loved ones makes us feel better. Having close bonds with other people is one of the most important keys to happiness.
3. Start The Day INTENTIONALLY
You’ve all heard the saying, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.” (Henry Ford) Well, that same philosophy holds true for living a happy life! Life lives up (or down) to your expectations. If your first thought when you wake up in the morning is, “Today’s going to be a GREAT day!” Guess what? You’re probably going to have a great day!
So use that! Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. It could be anything…even something as simple as “today I will savor the little things” or “today I will say thank you to important people in my life”. In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says “”Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”
4. Enjoy The Finer Things In Life
According to a 2011 study, men who enjoy art, ballet and other cultural activities feel happier and healthier, and women who attended church activities and sporting events reported the same. The more activities a person participated in, the happier they tended to be. Interesting!
5. Stop Comparing Yourself
While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction.
6. If You Can’t Get OUT Of It, Get INTO It
This motto can apply to SO many areas of life and can make ALL the difference. Let’s face it…there are going to be tasks that do NOT inherently make us “happy”, but it’s a whole lot easier (and happier!) to “embrace” those tasks than to complain about them and avoid them until eventually they become MONUMENTAL OBSTACLES to overcome.
7. Give People The Benefit Of The Doubt
If we give people the benefit of the doubt and believe they have our best interests at heart, we may occasionally be wrong, but for the most part we feel appreciative and peaceful. On the other hand, if we assume the worst of people, we walk around feeling suspicious and critical. I’ll take the former thank you!
8. A Little Planning & Organization Go A Long Way
The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, do something about it. Often just a few minutes of work can make a sizable dent in what seems like an overwhelming pile of tasks. Try to get in the habit of using the “one minute rule” — i.e., never postpone any task that can be completed in less than one minute. An uncluttered environment will contribute to a more serene (happier) mood.
9. Be Kinder And Gentler
This one is SUPER simple! Say “Please” and “Thank you”. Smile at people, ask them how they are. Listen more carefully when they speak to you. Give a word of encouragement, a gesture of politeness. Be kind. You’ll find that you’ll be happier with yourself at the end of the day. And, as an added benefit, everyone around you will be happier too!
10. Do A Good Deed
It’s a well-known fact: When you do good, you feel good. Simple gestures such as helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Not only that, but people who volunteer for selfless reasons live longer and have stronger relationships!
11. “Exercise” Your Right To Be Happy
A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression! (And no side effects!) Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.
12. Take A Walk Down Memory Lane
Savoring happy memories is one of the secrets of the happiest people. Remembering happy times simply makes us happy AGAIN. This is why we love photo albums and sharing our pictures online…and why so much of our memory-making time with friends and family is spent reminiscing. Feeling a little down? Let your mind drift down memory lane. It works!
13. Get Silly! (thx to TinyBuddha)
Text your significant other with a silly picture of yourself.
Post on your Facebook page, “What made you smile today?
Wear bright colored socks. If your pants are long, wear a different color on each foot.
Use the search functionality on Twitter and look for “happy” or “smile.”
Laugh out loud. Seriously, just choose to laugh and keep going.
People-watch and make up conversations in your head about what they might be thinking.
Text a friend, “What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard today?”
Blast your favorite music and dance around with absolutely no regard for rhythm or appearance.
14. Take Time To Connect
Whatever your spiritual beliefs — or non-beliefs, studies show that connecting to a high power is correlated with happiness. Just stepping back to realize that we are part of an enormous universe can put some perspective back into life. Spend a few minutes each day contemplating something larger than yourself. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Cultivate a sense of being blessed and feeling grateful.
15. FAKE Happy!
It sounds simple, but it works. Research shows that even an FAKE smile boosts your mood. It turns out that by forcing a smile, you activate a specific set of muscles in the face. That set of muscles is closely connected to the emotions of happiness and joy. By smiling, you are signaling the emotional centers of your brain to tell them that everything is good.
And ironically….the final tip I have for you today…..
16. Don’t OVERTHINK Happiness
Hyperfocusing on happiness can ironically make people LESS happy. A study found that women who focused exclusively on being happy had trouble actually ACHIEVING it. Possible reasons were they set their happiness standards too high or they focused on personal happiness at the expense of things that really make people happy, like relationships with friends and family. So just a reminder to pursue activities that make you happy, rather than happiness itself.
So even if you’re not naturally a “glass is half FULL” kind of person…with a little practice and a few simple changes, a positive, HAPPY outlook can become a habit. :-)
What makes you………………
The rest of the list………..
11. Seeing an elderly couple holding hands.
12. Driving a car with the windows down on a sunny day.
13. Winning a prize in the Lottery
14. Booking a holiday/vacation.
15. Hearing your favorite song.
16. Finding a bargain. (amen!)
17. Seeing an old friend.
18. Picnic in the park.
19. Getting a promotion.
20. A romantic night out.
21. A song that reminds you of your past.
22. Looking at old photos.
23. Making a new friend.
24. Having a quiet moment to yourself.
25. Walks in the country.
26. Hearing a baby laugh.
27. A girls/boys night out.
28. Waking up on Saturday morning and realizing it’s the weekend.
30. Eating cake.
31. Fitting into an old pair of jeans you thought were too small
32. Getting praise from your boss after working hard on something
33. The smell of freshly baked bread or cookies
34. A warm bubble bath at the end of a stressful day
35. Someone telling you you’ve lost weight
36. Finding out someone likes you
37. Sunday dinners
38. The smell of freshly-cut grass
39. Landing at the holiday/vacation destination airport
40. A good hair day
41. Bank holidays
42. Passing a driving test
43. Swanky hotel rooms
44. Finding out your children have done well at school
45. Someone offering an elderly person their seat on the bus or train
46. Someone giving you their car parking ticket when you arrive in the car park
47. Waking up to find out it has snowed overnight
48. Drinking a cold beer after work
49. Eating comfort food