The Complete Guide to Happiness
The Science behind Happiness
Happiness. It’s hard to describe without actually using the word, isn’t it? We’ve all experienced it and, well, the majority of us crave to be happy again. For hundreds of years, it’s been our right to pursue happiness; to experience enjoyment and live a happy life. In fact, the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right set out in the Declaration of Independence! Thank you, Thomas Jefferson!
As the understanding of our brain grows, so does our thirst for quick fixes. For a long time, researchers focused on the feeling of unhappiness. Why do people feel unhappy? How can we treat it? How do you find yourself again when you’re feeling lost? The answer turned out to be pharmaceutical drugs, but the drugs only seemed to make people feel ‘less sad’. Over the past thirty years, there has been a real shift away from this philosophy. A new field known as Positive Psychology now dominates research. It reveals an understanding of happiness that no generation has ever known before. The brains behind this field of study have proven that people are, in some ways, responsible for their own happiness. Thanks to Positive Psychology, we can now independently measure happiness, take control over it, and even train ourselves to feel happy once again. Find out here how finding a life coach can help you feel more fulfilled.
1. What is Happiness?
So, what actually is this feeling that we all lust for so much? Is it just an emotion or is it a state of mind? Is a long and happy life an age-old myth? Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, believed that happiness was more than a state of mind. You could feel happy, but you could also be happy. Aristotle thought this was the result when two key elements of our lives joined together: Hedonia, the feeling of pleasure, and Eudaimonia, having a good life. Scientists seem to agree with Aristotle that happiness is a positive mental or emotional state caused by enjoyment and contentment. Dr. Seligman, a University of Pennsylvania psychology professor, believes there is also a third key element to Aristotle’s happiness theory: engagement. Dr Seligman uses the term ‘engagement’ to represent our work life, family life, friendships and hobbies. These are the things that take up most of our time and thoughts. These are make us all unique, and, to some degree, the things over which we have control.
While some scientists and our online life coaches might disagree with Aristotle and Dr. Seligman, they all do generally agree that happiness is subjective. We can all experience happiness, but what actually makes us happy is personal. You might get your kicks from advanced yoga workouts, but your friend might think that bending and stretching into human pretzel formations isn’t nearly as much fun as riding roller coasters. Your neighbor might find happiness mowing the lawn in the early hours of a summer’s morning, but there’s a good chance that you have another word or two to describe how that “dawn” mowing makes you feel.
2. Why Am I Unhappy?
It seems that Aristotle was right all those years ago. Happiness occurs when you do something you enjoy and when you feel content with your life. Happiness drives your mental health, your relationships and your general well-being. So, why do you feel unhappy? How will you ever be happy again?
You may be surprised to know that people aged 40-59 are the least happy people in the world. A research study of over 300,000 adults revealed that adults were generally unsatisfied with their life, had less free time and a lot more worries. Pressures from work, burdens of family life and a decline in health were just some of the reasons listed in the study, but they are reasons that ring true for a lot of us.
Life for the overworked and undervalued can often leave you feeling unsatisfied. We scarcely have time to do the things we enjoy. In today’s world, people find themselves drowning in images of perfection that always seems to be taking place in the lives of other people rather than us; from fabulous beach holidays to angelic family portraits. Instead of living in the moment, they’re day-dreaming of better times. There’s an old saying – ‘happiness is the thief of joy’; people cannot help themselves. We want what others have, and in a world filled with social media, it doesn’t take long before someone is sharing their (seemingly) wonderful life and ruining our day.
Today’s lifestyles are causing unhappiness on a scale never before seen. A quarter of all men and women say they are unhappy, and what’s even worse is that this seems to be the ‘norm’. It’s become normal practice for humans to hate their 9-5 jobs, to calorie count and to drink away the week’s sorrows as soon as the weekend arrives. Unhappiness is rife throughout society, but for the most part, people soldier on and continue with each day. You might feel as though those feelings of deep unhappiness are there to stay, but that’s not the case. By reading this, you’re already taking the first step to a happier life. You’re taking back control over your happiness.
3. Measuring Happiness
Happiness has been the muse of poets, musicians, authors and artists throughout history. You can tell when another person is happy. You can talk about the last time you felt happy or about the people who make you happy. Our society is built on the concept of happiness; billions of Happy Birthdays messages from cards to balloons to flowers; endless customer satisfaction surveys; song titles that remain in our memories for years after the song has left the charts. Yet, scientists have tried and failed for many years to accurately measure happiness. We know that levels of happiness can be measured from low to high and that we all fit somewhere within this scale.
Although there is still a long way to go, scientists have come up with a way for people to measure their own happiness. Through self-report questionnaires, you are able to place yourself somewhere along the happiness scale. Several years ago, a California professor of psychology developed a questionnaire that could measure a person’s happiness based on four questions. Imagine that: finally, a math formula that we can all understand! The Subjective Happiness Scale looks at how people value happiness in themselves and within others. The questionnaire asks you to rate these answers on a scale of 0 to 10 and calculates the answers to produce a score. You can use this information to determine your own happiness levels.
4. Positive Psychology
Positive Psychology is the name given to the scientific pursuit of happiness. Figuring out how our brain works has played a dynamic role in our understanding of happiness. Originally, it was believed that unhappiness could be fixed with drugs, although scientists are still not sure how these drugs work. It’s believed anti-depressants increase certain chemicals in our brains. These chemicals send signals around our brain and determine our feelings and thoughts. What these drugs fail to do, however, is actually create happiness.
Positive psychologists believe that people are born with a set level of happiness. This is known as the Set-Point theory. Your set level is a combination of hereditary genes that you receive through your DNA and your own personality traits. This unique level of happiness usually sets around the age of 16 and remains relatively consistent throughout our life. Your set level of happiness can change as a result of life events and other occurrences, but people usually return to their original ‘setting’. It is possible to permanently change your own set level of happiness, with tragedies such as a sudden death creating a permanently lower level of happiness. But here’s the good news! Research has proven that your levels of happiness can also be permanently increased. Positive long-term changes in circumstances (winning the lottery, a promotion at work, hiring a life coach) and changes in attitudes (more on that later) are just some of the proven ways you can increase your set level of happiness.
So, we now understand that happiness is pre-built within us. Although we are all born with the ability to feel happy, there are some people who are biologically wired to experience lower levels of happiness. Through no fault of your own, happiness is a pre-determined factor just as much as our eye colour. Thankfully, the theory doesn’t end there.
Professor Ed Diener was dissatisfied with this theory. He didn’t accept the scientific fact that we are all born with a level of happiness beyond our control and he set to work to improve it. He created ‘Subjective Well-Being’. Subjective Well-being broke apart our understanding of our set levels of happiness into percentages. He confirmed that our genes and personality traits did determine our levels of happiness, but only 50% of it. The theory proved that 10% of our happiness is determined by circumstances. Although considerations such as health and financial security can cause high levels of unhappiness, science suggests they actually make up the smallest amount of our happiness. What does that mean? To paraphrase the Beatles, it would seem that money really can’t buy you love or happiness.
The remaining 40% of our happiness is down to us. Through our attitudes, activities and actions such as making the definitive move to speak to an online life coach, we have complete control over our happiness. Thanks to Positive Psychology, ‘how can I be happy in life?’ is an age-old question that has now been answered. Backed by scientific research, this guide is guaranteed to change your life and increase your level of happiness.
How to Be Happy in Life
Of this be sure: You do not find a happy life, you make it.
– Thomas Monson
Using science, positive psychologists have successfully identified the ingredients humans need to achieve happiness. The results fall under Aristotle’s two keys to happiness; enjoyment and a good life. One psychologist has renamed these “life circumstances” and “intentional behaviours“.
It is our intentional behaviours that impact our self-controlled happiness the most (that’s the 40% we have control over). Our intentional behaviours are not just one simple act, but rather a variety of skills or items that, when used together, are proven to create a state of long-term happiness. As happiness is made up of skills or acts, it is therefore completely possible to learn happiness. Learning happiness is a curriculum we can all excel at. Actively desiring happiness is simply not enough. Happiness is a commitment; a lifestyle. Soon, happiness will no longer be a feeling you crave, but a habit you experience every day.
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.
– William James
It is completely possible to think yourself happy. According to a scientific study, those who think happy will be happy. This all comes from a change in attitude, and after a bit of practice, is a change that we can adapt to quite easily. In Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness, Seligman revealed the astounding positive effects that a change in attitude can bring. People who view their lives positively, use a life coach, and embrace optimism experience lower levels of depression and stress.
In their book, The 9 Choices of Happy People, authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks revealed that people who are happy started the process by making a conscious effort to change their attitudes and behaviours. Realizing what makes you unhappy with yourself and actively working to change that, is a proven way of finding happiness within. Changing your attitudes to embrace positive emotions such as empathy, selflessness, and compassion, as Foster & Hicks suggest, brings more happiness to people than the feelings of pity, selfishness and greed.
Author Tony Wilkinson argues that happiness is about your inner reactions to events: what you think and believe and how problems affect you as a happy person. The first way to change your attitude is to adopt a positive view of circumstances and events. Remember that glass that you’re always being told to look at? There’s a reason, because a glass half-full is a way of looking at the world. This positive thinking is vital to a happier attitude as it allows you to accept that plans may change, that sometimes things don’t always go in your favour.
Optimism is about preparing for these changes and moving on to a new plan without dwelling on the bad. It is about adopting a more favourable view when things happen. It’s okay that you forgot to get eggs at the grocery store because you need to go back for more butter too. Yes, you were kept an hour late at work last week, but you did see a beautiful sunset on your way back home.
Thorns on a rose don’t take away from the beauty of the flower. Changing to an optimistic outlook is about overriding the negative thoughts and feelings you experience when something happens and actively thinking positive thoughts to create positive emotions.
You can adopt a more positive outlook in a variety of ways. One method is to shift the blame to someone else. When you are filled with negative thoughts, try to focus parts of the experience on the doings of others. The scapegoat option is a great way for reflecting on situations and making sure that you do not centre yourself on the negativity through blame or error that can lead to further unhappiness.
Instead of thinking ‘I’m so silly and clumsy for smashing the expensive bottle of wine in the supermarket’ and letting these thoughts bother you all day, change your thinking to ‘Yes, I’ve just dropped a bottle of expensive wine in the supermarket, but the bottle wasn’t placed on the shelf properly in the first place and it could have happened to anybody’.
Another tip is to find a distraction. By distracting your thoughts when you are in a negative frame of mind, you are able to engage in a positive activity and leave behind any negative thoughts or feelings. Activities such as yoga, music, and crafting, that demand your complete attention are at the top of the list for for this kind of beneficial distraction .
You must also change your thoughts about life, too. A lot of us believe happiness will come from having lots of money, working at a good job or driving a status car. For others, happiness might come from the number of children they can have or the number of vacations they can afford each year.
Author Steven Pinker summarises happiness as being happy with what you have. Life coaches can help with this, but it is also possible to change your attitudes yourself. As people, it is our human nature to set goals based on desires, but after we achieve them, we quickly move on to the next want or need. This is known as the hedonic treadmill; the path never stops once you have achieved a certain goal. Happiness is impossible to achieve with this mindset.
Scientist Christy DeSmith believes that you can change your mindset and your attitudes by changing your spending habits. “Sometimes, you like what you want”, but, more often than not “what you want are the kinds of things” you don’t really need.”viii The parts of your brain that deal with your wants, needs and likes are located in a completely different part of the brain to your happiness set-point.
Science tells us that happiness does not depend on materialistic likes or wants, and you must, therefore, train your brain to no longer depend on new purchases or possessions as a means to happiness. Instead, be happy with what you have. DeSmith recommends spending your time and money on meaningful experiences such as traveling, helping others, or strengthening the relationships you have with family and friends.
There are also other ways to adopt a more optimistic outlook on life. One method originates from the ‘fake it until you make it’ camp, and suggests that simply acting happier is a proven way to find happiness. Scientists have discovered that this approach can have an immediate and significant impact on emotions, with participants reporting increased happiness levels after just one week.ix
People have to feel as though they are making progress with their goals in order to achieve further progress. The ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset allows people to find happiness quickly and easily, as they have already begun to train their brains into feelings of happiness. This camp of thought believes that by practicing (or faking it), it is much easier to achieve the end product as you have already adopted the necessary skills and thoughts needed to achieve happiness.
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
– Henry David Thoreau
Positive Psychology is dominated by research studies and statistics that prove there is a guaranteed link between happiness and a positive lifestyle made up of nutrition, exercise and sleeping. It is well known that exercise is good for the body, but it is also good for the mind. There is a significant association between exercise and happiness, with one scientific study confirming that levels of happiness increased after any amount of physical activity. From light walking around the park to intense evening yoga, exercise can be as personal and demanding as you want it to be.
This positive impact on your mood and emotions happens when chemicals in the brain, known as endorphins, are stimulated by an activity. The effects of 20 minutes of exercise can continue to stimulate your brain for up to 12 hours, with this result lasting longer the more you exercise during a span of time. The endorphins in your brain replace stress-chemicals known as cortisol, reducing any negative mood or emotions. The links between exercise and happiness are so strong that exercise may often be recommended as an alternative treatment for depression. Studies have found that exercise is just as powerful as medication in treating depression, particularly in adults.
There is also the belief that exercise can act as a distraction from negative thoughts and it is this distraction that creates happiness. Happify recommend that adults who exercise for 30 – 60 minutes a day for more than 3 days a week are more likely to experience happiness, but that this isn’t always necessary. Walking to work instead of driving can still have a positive impact and still releases the happy chemicals, endorphins. As well as actively walking more, other simple exercise activities can come from YouTube videos or workout DVDs and can last as long as five minutes or 50, depending on your schedule and interests. It is also possible to incorporate exercise into your daily routines by joining leisure centres, exercise groups and local walking groups online. A quick Google search for these in your area will bring up dozens of results that are easy to join. Signing up for a 30-minute yoga class could leave you reaping high levels of happiness for the rest of the week.
A healthy brain is essential when pursuing happiness. Nutrition plays an important part in this. The food we eat can regulate our moods and improve our brain functions, ultimately increasing our happiness set point levels. There are particular vitamins and nutrients that we can eat which have an incredible impact on our brain and our body. A trip to the supermarket is a sure fire way of improving our happiness, from combating depression to boosting our overall happiness. These are vital ingredients that you should slowly begin to incorporate into your shopping list. Vitamin D, from the sun, is a must-have nutrient. It is proven to improve sleep, relieve depression, reduce inflammation and pains and contributes to a positive well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids support a positive mood by combatting depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder as they reduce inflammations and improve health. Serotonin sourced from vitamins B-6 and B-12 and found in foods such as broccoli and potatoes, reduces weakness, irritability, insomnia and can relieve nerves and stresses. Antioxidants from vitamin E, olive oil, fruits, vegetables and green tea are beneficial to increased levels of happiness as well as being highly effective in boosting general health and minimizing diseases which are. Research also suggests that adults with higher antioxidant levels were far more optimistic and, therefore, happier in general. As well as adding these ingredients to your weekly meals, it is also possible to take these vitamins and minerals in the form of low-cost supplement tablets available at your local supermarket or pharmacist. Supplements can be taken daily and are an excellent way of adding these important vitamins to your diet without drastically changing your meals or eating habits.
Our sleeping pattern can also have a massive effect on our happiness. Although every human is different, scientists suggest that most adults need around eight hours of undisturbed sleep a night in order to function properly the next day. Sleep deprivation and sleeping problems such as insomnia are directly linked to other negative circumstances including family troubles, work stresses and mental health and reap a circle of unhappiness. Limiting caffeine intake, winding down and establishing a routine before bed can regulate your sleeping pattern and extend the amount of time you sleep for undisturbed each night. Scientists have proven numerous times that where good sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise are in play, people are generally much happier and healthier.
In order to power on sleep, we need to power off the gadgets. Switching off your electronic devices an hour or so before bed is a recommended way of winding down before bed. Focusing your energy on calm relaxing music or reading a book creates the perfect environment for sleeping. Writing a to-do list before bed for the following day is an excellent way of eliminating stress and worries and allowing your brain to calm and focus before sleeping.
True friendship multiplies the good life and divides evils.
– Baltasar Gracian
Happiness teacher Anthony Seldon, believes that happiness lies at the heart of fostering good, caring relationships with others. He teaches his students the importance of forming deeply loving and compassionate relationships with others above any other factor of happiness, and there is scientific research that supports his style of teaching. A 2015 social study revealed that people have generally higher levels of happiness when good relationships are in place, proving that people get a ‘happiness boost’ when they are around positive, loving companions. Fostering close relationships with the people around you, whether that means friends, family, neighbours or work colleagues, provides a powerful source of love and support and increases feelings of self-worth.
Actively strengthening the relationships you with have with other people is an essential step towards happiness. In his book ‘You Can Choose to Be Happy’, Dr Stevens suggests that you should choose to be around people who increase your chances of happiness. The people who are the happiest are people who are true to themselves: they know who and what makes them happy and they exert every effort to stay in these good, positive environments. Research shows that it is the quality of relationships, not the quantity, which matters the most. Spending quality time together through shared conversation, enjoyment, and experiences will create positive emotions that ultimately lead to happiness.
You can enhance your relationships with others in a variety of ways. All too often we forget to schedule important quality time with friends and family because work and other life commitments get in the way. Setting aside quality time to spend with loved ones is one way to do this. Planning experiences such as dining, shopping, adventures and vacations are a fantastic way to spend time with loved ones and foster strong positive relationships. One way to develop good relationships at work or with your neighbours is to talk to one new person a week. There are more than seven billion people on the planet: isn’t it time for you to get to know a few of them? Make an effort to ask how they are, wish them ‘good morning’ or offer help with a task. Go out of your way to smile and greet new faces and commit yourself to to take part in work or community events and gatherings. Boosting your social environments and relationships will have a lasting, positive effect on your happiness levels.
The two-way connection humans experience through positive relationships boosts happiness levels and feelings of enjoyment from even the shortest of social experiences. Biologists believe this happens because humans are socially wired creatures. Our genes have evolved to survive as a group as opposed to the old mentality of ‘survival of the fittest’. This means that social relationships are at the heart of our DNA. Although enjoyment can be experienced alone, it is usually experienced with others. Laughing is usually experienced around others. We smile at others, or because others have made us smile. A lot of positive experiences that create happiness are centred on positive social interactions. We all experience the fundamental human need for love, care, compassion and friendship. Positive relationships with others, no matter how close, are essential to our well-being and happiness. Relationships not only allow humans to receive support, love and care but to also provide it and in doing so, develop positive emotions.
Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
You may be surprised to discover that happiness is intertwined with acts of gratitude and kindness. Helping others is a guaranteed way to boost your happiness levels and it is one of the most popular paths to happiness that people take. A research panel in Germany carried out the world’s biggest study on happiness to find out what made people permanently happier for a much longer period of time. While results included exercise and relationships, the strongest association between longer lasting happiness came from positive acts towards others. Helping others was proven to provide long-term increased happiness levels on a scale that no other happiness factor could match. From helping your neighbours with their shopping, to simply remembering to say ‘thank you’ each day; the more compassionate you are, the happier you become.
It is possible that the more we think of others, the more value we give ourselves. By helping others, we unknowingly boost our self-esteem. Actively practicing compassion and kindness eliminates negative emotions such as anger and stress and replaces them with positive emotions like happiness and compassion. One small act of kindness can have a greater impact on your happiness levels than a short burst of exercise. Gratitude can not only increase feelings of happiness but is also believed to increase life satisfaction. The benefits can occur almost instantly and can permanently improve your happiness set-point if completed frequently enough for a long enough period of time. The bursts of happiness that happen as a result of the acts of kindness or gratitude you carry out can actually improve your sleep and, in some cases, can decrease the symptoms of illnesses (such as tiredness or weakness). Acts towards others should never be tedious or forced as these create negative emotions.
Acts of kindness and gratitude can be anything from a small gesture, like buying flowers for a relative or colleague, to writing letters to old friends and colleagues thanking them for their friendship and love. Acts towards others can be as quick and simple, or as thought-out and carefully planned as you wish them to be. The control is completely yours, and the happiness these acts leave you feeling will have you repeatedly seeking out new acts of kindness and gratitude to carry out again and again. From leaving your change in the vending machine for the next person, to supporting your local charity with donations and volunteering, acts towards others are something that you can start this very second.
If possible, these acts towards others should be carried out unexpectedly as this has the biggest impact on happiness. Falling into a routine could hinder happiness levels and turn a positive thing into an unwelcomed chore. The vast majority of research concludes that those who help others, whether it’s volunteering or simply helping a colleague at work, reap the benefits caring can bring. From a generally happier mood to a positive well-being, actively caring for those around us brings happiness to everyone involved.
Easy Action Steps to Be Happy Right Now
The simple formula for happiness: Take action to do the things that make you happy, with the people who make you happy, and be happy with the person you are right now.
– Zen Habits
1. Acts of Kindness
A California psychologist asked a group of her students to perform five small weekly acts of kindness for two months. The results showed a significant increase in their happiness levels compared to the students who didn’t take part.xv Acts of kindness are free and easy tasks that shouldn’t take too much time out of your day to complete. You should expect nothing in return when completing an act of kindness. Kindness will leave you feeling warm and wonderful, two of the perfect ingredients for happiness. If you want to be happy, here are some ideas for acts of kindness that you can do right now:
- Leave your change in the vending or ticket machine as a pleasant surprise for the next person.
- Take a family member or elderly neighbour to do their shopping, especially in times of bad weather.
- Help a charity by donating money/clothes/items, volunteering, and raising awareness.
- Volunteer around the community. You could volunteer your services at a food bank, soup kitchen or community centre. There are always volunteering opportunities available around the local community.
- Volunteer to help friends and family. You could help with tasks like dog walking, gardening, babysitting and decorating.
2. Changing Your Mindset
In his book ‘You Can Choose to Be Happy’, Tom Stevens talks about the importance of a happy mind set. He believes people can achieve a happier mindset by practicing good self-management skills, such as focusing on your goals and ambitions, and shifting your mental attitude. Stevens says that by altering your perspective and thoughts, you can permanently increase your happiness set-point and achieve true happiness. These are just some of the ways that you can change your mindset for the better:
You can focus your goals and ambitions in two ways: 1) Figure out the next step for your career and work out a realistic plan for how you can get there. 2) Create a bucket list of personal goals and achievements and start working towards them at a realistic, affordable pace. Where do you want to be in five years? What have you always wanted to achieve? What has stopped you from achieving this so far?
Realize that you have a choice when it comes to your thoughts. Set time aside to write a list of your thoughts, feelings and experiences for each day. Re-read your words, highlighting any negative emotions or words. Re-write your words, replacing the negative words or writing adding a quick explanation as to why you felt this way and how you can change this.
Change your fixed mindset into a growth mindset. During situations, or even when reflecting on them afterwards, recognise your negative thoughts. Recognise that you can control these thoughts and start breaking these thoughts down. Almost as though your thoughts are in conversation with each other. With this technique, a negative lingering thought such as “I really can’t face another day at work tomorrow, I don’t want to go in”, becomes a rationalized “tomorrow is a new day. I’m one step closer to finding a new job.”
Examine your current beliefs. What are they? Do they support your goals, lifestyle and happiness? Are your beliefs right for you? Beliefs are a part of us that we very rarely question, but they could be causing you unhappiness. Asking questions about your beliefs will help you to identify possible blocks in your life and in your thoughts. It is only when you discover these blocks that you can begin to change.
3. Active Gratitude
Gratitude, no matter how small, creates joy. This belief that is now backed by science and research, with scientists proving gratitude can increase happiness, strengthen relationships and develop better coping skills within us. Gratitude can come in many forms. Want to become happy? Here are some ways you can try today.
- In a notepad, write a daily or a weekly list of everything you have to be thankful for.
- Make a list of everybody you have to be thankful for and send them a thank you note. You could tell them through a phone call, text message or a kind gesture.
- Before bed, think of one-three things that you are thankful for that happened to you that day.
- If you think of something that a deceased love one has done for you, write a thank you letter anyway. Some people like to throw these notes into a river or leave them in a special place.
- Gratitude is not just about receiving kindness or help but also giving it. During your lunch break, write a list of things people may be thankful to you for that day. If the list is short, actively seek out opportunities to help others that afternoon.
Borrowed from Buddhism, Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment and accepting present life for what it is. It is a key skill to master because as you strengthen your mindfulness, you are able to focus more on achieving happiness. One way to achieve mindfulness is to concentrate on your breathing. Exercises like dancing and yoga help people to do this. Breathing is an effortless task that we do daily. It requires little effort, but when you stop to concentrate on your breathing you start to enjoy each breath and let the calm, silence take over you. Concentrating on the world around you is another way to achieve mindfulness. Meditation allows your concentration to flow and can be done anywhere at any time. Meditating and concentrating on your breathing allows you to really enjoy the present moment and increases happiness levels as negative thoughts and stresses are actively eliminated.
Start by setting time aside to take deep breaths and focus your concentration. This is known as a basic Zen meditation exercise. Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down. Start by breathing in and count: that was one breath. Watch as your diaphragm breathes out and repeat. Count your next breath as two, taking the time to watch your body’s natural inhaling and exhaling. Repeat until you get to 10, then repeat from 1 until you are completely calm and focused. Your focus should remain undisturbed for this exercise, helping to improve your calmness and concentration.
By adopting a technique called ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’ you can slowly release tension and focus on your inner-self. This technique can be done in either a sitting, standing or lying down position. Tighten an area of your body and take a deep breath in. Hold the tension for as long as you can, releasing as you breathe out. You can repeat this step or move onto the next part of your body. This exercise allows you to become very aware of your body and improves your focus.
Take the time to really experience the present moment. Be completely focused in every task that you do. The distractions of technology create a rushed and stressful mindset that acts as a gateway for more stress and negativity. All too often we find ourselves checking our phones, laptops and TV whilst doing other tasks or spending quality time with loved ones. For example, when you are washing the dishes, really focus on the present moment. Notice the hot, soapy water against your skin. Listen to the sound of the splashing water, the running tap, and the clinks of the dishes. Watch as the bubbles drip off the plates and the light reflects against the dish. The peace that you experience from dwelling in the present moment leads to happier thoughts and a calmer mindset. You can adapt this technique to even the most mundane of chores.
This mindfulness technique can also be applied to the external world around. Take the time to notice the smell of the air, the colour of the grass or of leaves on the tree. Feel the crisp or warm air against your skin, inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply as you do so. Concentrate your thoughts on the patterns and textures of the world around you, carefully examining the cracks and crevasses of your neighborhood. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the world around you. The gentle humming of cars, the sweet tweeting of birds, the sounds of shoes as they scuffle the pavement around you. Concentrate completely on this present moment and let worries and distractions escape your frame of mind.
5. Changing Your Diet
Nutrition is an essential ingredient for happiness. There are plenty of ingredients or supplements that can be slowly added to your diet which are scientifically proven to improve your well-being and increase your levels of happiness.xvii
- Calcium can regulate mood fluctuations. Calcium can be found in milk, yogurt, cheese and kale.
- Iron can reduce tiredness and regulate mood changes. Iron can be found in turkey, beef ribeye, lentils and soya beans.
- Magnesium supports the development of serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical in our brain that scientists believe creates happiness. Magnesium can be found in almonds, spinach, cashews and peanuts.
- Chromium increases serotonin levels. Chromium can be found in potatoes, broccoli, turkey breast and grape juice.
- Folic Acid (B9) can also increase serotonin levels. Folic Acid can be found in avocados, asparagus, spinach and Brussels sprouts.
- Omega-3 contributes up to 18% of our brains weight. Omega-3 can be found in salmon, broccoli, spinach and herring.
- Vitamin B-6 reduces depression and improves the immune system. Vitamin B-6 can be found in salmon, chicken breasts, tuna and breakfast cereals.
- Vitamin B-12 reduces tiredness and can regulate the symptoms of depression. Vitamin B-12 can be found in trout, mozzarella cheese, salmon and canned tuna.
- Vitamin D can regulate moods and reduce the risk of depression. Vitamin D can be found in egg, salmon, swordfish, mushrooms and milk.
- Zinc improves the responses of anti-depressants and supports a healthy immune system. Zinc can be found in Swiss cheese, pork loins, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews and crab.
6. Hiring a Life Coach
Occasionally, people may find that they are struggling alone in their journey to happiness. ‘How can I be happy?’ is one of the most common questions that trained life coaches are asked daily. Life coaches offer great services for relationships, mindfulness, parenting and a lot of other issues, but it is the pursuit of happiness that comes out on top as one of the most popular life coaching services available at Life Coach Spotter. Our life coaches are a fantastic solution for anybody needing a little extra support in finding happiness.
After you have found your coach and have begun working with them, you’ll find that the benefits are substantial. You will explore a deeper understanding of your own personal happiness and establish a much stronger connection with your personal thoughts and ambiguities. A life coach will allow you to discover your values and needs, set achievable expectations, and reveal the limiting beliefs and thoughts that keep you unhappy. Working with an online life coach to find happiness will provide you with essential tools to assess how your current path is damaging your happiness. You already have the potential for happiness within you. Your life coach will tap into this potential. Just like a personal trainer motivates the body, a life coach will motivate your mind. You will be left feeling more motivated than ever before, and inspired to succeed. Life coaches can give you the confidence, clarity and support you need on your path to happiness.
During a life coaching session, trained life coaches will co-create an action plan with you that will focus on your individual needs and goals. By working together on your next steps and concrete actions, your life coach is guaranteed to bring happiness to your life. You will embrace many of the actions included in this guide as well as many other successful methods for achieving happiness that are appropriate to your own personal situation. Working with a life coach will help you eliminate stresses and worries, establish new, healthier habits and design
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“I’m Happier, Motivated, and More Positive Now”
After finding my life coach, I’m now happier, more positive, more motivated, and I have tangible results. I’m now achieving my goals and living the life I was meant to live. I feel way more confident and powerful now.
“I’m Now Confident and Empowered”
Coaching is fun! I’m no longer lost. I feel so powerful, inspired, motivated, worthy, and loved. Hear me roar!
“I Finally Uncovered My Mental Block”
After I found my coach, in just one session, I discovered what was holding me back. My coach found my blind spot that I’ve had for years.
“I Found Happiness and Hope”
Before coaching I felt hopeless. But with coaching I can meet my goals and find true happiness. I’d absolutely recommend Life Coach Spotter.
Coaching Transformed My Life Completely
When I try to do it on my own it’s really difficult. After coaching I am motivated to move forward and I know how to reach my goals.
“I Got a Clear Direction and Purpose in My Life”
Life Coach Spotter has given me a clear direction and motivated me. I defined my goals and now I’m actively pursuing them.
“I Discovered What I Really Want in My Life”
I grew so much in one conversation. If you want to discover what you really want in life, get coaching with Life Coach Spotter. You’ll move through blocks, make big decisions, and move forward quickly.