Let’s talk about some scientifically proven, simple steps you can take today to start to get the ball rolling of being a happier human being. Because let’s face it, we all want to be happier 🙂
Number 1 – Spend more time with family and friends. We’ve all heard the classic examples of when people are on their death beds, their number one wish is usually more time with family and friends. It’s never, “man I wish I spent more time at work”, or “I wish I would have spent more time scrolling aimlessly on Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Google+ or Periscope or Snap Chat or…you get the idea. We know that when we spend more time with friends and family, these are people we love and usually have such a great time with..so why don’t we do it more? Because life is grabbing us by the balls and making us way too busy. So it’s up to us to say “You know what life? No. I’m taking time out to hang with my friends because I think they’re pretty rad and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
I love the way Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert ( I wanna be a happiness expert) explains it: “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” Read that again.
Number 2 – Exercise. Research shows that 30 to 40 minutes of exercise three times a week is equivalent to some of our most powerful psychiatric drugs in dealing with depression and sadness or anxiety. Those minutes can be walking so get your butt outside. It doesn’t have to be 40 minutes, it can be anything to get you started and here’s a bonus happiness tip for you… Shawn Achor says in his book “The Happiness Advantage” that spending time outside for 20 minutes on a nice day can make you happier, so there’s a double whammy for you. Go for a walk. Outside. Nailed it.
He also talks about a study where they tested people with depression in 3 ways. One group had medication, one group had a combo of medication and exercise and the third just exercise. Six months later when assessing their relapse rate, the group that was only medication had a 38% relapse rate, the combo group had 31% relapse rate and the exercise group had a 9% relapse rate!
Number 3 – Practice gratitude. Start with 3 things that you are grateful for and write them down once a day. Three things… everyone has three things! There are numerous studies showing that this simple practice of gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction and decreases depressive symptoms. If you can get someone else involved to help hold you accountable and have more fun with it.
Number 4 – Connect by disconnecting. Turn off your damn cell phone and step away from the machine you are reading this on right now. (After you’re done of course.) When you’re out for lunch or drinks with a friend, put the phone away and connect with them. When you’re at home alone, turn off your phone and anything else that beeps and can take your attention away and just be you for an hour. Connect with who you are again and with the people around you. I just heard a story of a big exec the other day who turns her cell phone off from 5:30 to 8:30 PM every day to connect with her family. Slow clap.
Guys we’re seriously missing out on being connected with other human beings and it’s hurting us in a lot of ways. You will find if you just put the electronics away for a bit each day you will be a lot happier. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you will.
Number 5 – Be a good person and be nice.
Remember the last time you did something nice for someone? How did it make you feel? Did you maybe smile a little bit? I bet ‘ya did. That’s because making other people happy makes us happy! There are multiple studies out there that show that the more we give, the more happy we are, whether it’s our time or money. The happiness we get from making other people smile is pretty obvious if you just think of last Christmas.