Many of us struggle with finding happiness in the day-to-day. We get up, go to work, and go to bed, and assume we'd be happier "if only" certain things were different. But the truth is there are ways to enjoy your life more, and all it requires is a change in perspective and a few adjustments to your routine.
And if you have trouble seeing the positives around you, you're absolutely not alone. According to a study feature in Psychology Today, our brains actually have a negative-bias. This bias — the thing that causes us to worry, fear the worst, or focus on the bad — is actually what helped keep us alive as a species, since worrying about potential threats helped our ancestors survive.
So don't get too down on yourself if you feel as though you have a tendency to focus on the negative or don't always appreciate the good things in life. We're all guilty of it to some degree. And the good news is there are effective ways to alter how we see the world around us and enjoy our lives more. We just have to be willing to really work on it.
If you're looking for ways to enjoy life more and are striving for a more positive attitude overall, here are 11 tips that should help you retrain your brain to see the happy.
1. Take Discovery Walks
In a piece for Tiny Buddha, lifestyle and happiness writer Izmael Arkin highly recommended taking what he calls "discovery walks" a couple times a week. "It is important to remember that there is always something new to be discovered in our everyday environments. Go on a walk and commit to finding 10 new interesting things," Arkin wrote.
2. Take A New Class
Arkin also recommended signing up for a class in something you're interested or curious about. "Push yourself to try new activities, even if you think they aren’t for you," he wrote, noting that he recently took a Japanese tea-making class where he connected with people he normally would have never even met.
3. Seek Out Laughter
In a piece for MindBodyGreen.com, yoga instructor Dani Marie Robinson noted the importance of seeking out laughter in your day, whether it be texting a friend who makes you laugh, or even just checking out your favorite comedian on YouTube. "It’s impossible to feel the crippling burden of negative emotions while engrossed in laughter," Robinson wrote. "It gives the mind and body a much needed reset and forces us into the moment. It is uplifting, energizing and oddly calming at the same time."
4. Hug Someone
Robinson also sited studies that show a long embrace boosts oxytocin in our brains, meaning they genuinely have the power to elevate our moods. So if you're ever feeling a little down, don't be afraid to get a little TLC and hug somebody close to you.
5. Quit Comparing Yourself To Others
In a piece for Forbes, former journalist and behavioral expert Kare Anderson stressed that we should avoid comparing ourselves to others whenever possible. "As soon as you notice that you are feeling “less than” or “better than” others step back a moment emotionally. Save yourself from the twin pangs of torment," Anderson wrote.
6. Say No To More Things
This is a personal tip, and it goes a little against the usual advise of "always say yes!" I have always found that one of the fastest ways to feel weighed down and unhappy is by over-committing ourselves and letting too much pile up on our plate. Pretty soon we're a big ball of stress going from one obligation to the next, without any time to actually look around and smell the flowers. If you're feeling over-extended, try taking one or two things off your agenda, or say no to the next thing that comes your way in favor of a little decompression time. I promise your mood will improve.
7. Schedule Self-Indulgence Time
This is another personal tip that goes hand-in-hand with the last one. If you're a hyper-busy person, schedule in some down time for yourself! Whether it be the gym, drinks with friends, or just vegging out and binge watching some TV, make sure you're scheduling in time for your own enjoyment, whatever that may be.
8. Phone A Friend
A study featured on Science Daily out of the University of Michigan found that while time spent on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, generally made study participants less happy, talking to a friend on the phone made them more happy. So close that laptop and pick up the phone!
9. Listen To Upbeat Music
According to a study featured in the Journal of Positive Psychology, research has shown that listening to upbeat music can genuinely make us happier. However, the study's author notes that we shouldn't start listening with the mentality of "am I happy yet?" and instead just let the experience take its course.
10. Get More Sleep
According to Harvard Medical School, there is a strong link between sleep and mood, but it probably doesn't take a scientific study to tell you that it can be extremely difficult to feel good when you're sleep deprived. I personally find it that my coping mechanisms go out the window after several days of minimal sleep, and always feel like an entirely new person once I've given my body the rest it needs.
11. Get A Plant
A study featured in The Guardian found that employees were generally happier and 15 percent more productive when there were plants in their work space. So take a cue from the study and add some green to your life! It's a super small change that could make a noticeable difference.
There's no secret formula to enjoying life. It's often just about recognizing what's making us unhappy and making moves to change it. So incorporate some or all of the above tips and embrace the good that follows!
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