The following is a guest post from Austin Campbell
What Science Has to Say About Happiness ... And My Own Personal Experience About How I've Added More Happiness to My Life.
In scientific terms, Happiness is defined as the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative emotions.
But I think it goes more in depth than that. One leading researcher into happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, stated that happiness is “The experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
Woah! Now that’s a more accurate description of happiness.
It’s no secret that all of us are out to achieve a greater level of satisfaction in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, the main reason that we go after things in our lives is to bring us closer to our real goal, genuine happiness. We all want to experience more contentment, more well-being, and more excitement in our lives.
The major problem is that many people are confused.
There’s a very good question that researchers in this field have spent many years trying to answer: What actually is it that makes people happy?
Is it buying your dream house? Is it owning the most expensive vehicles? Is making a butt load of money? Is it having the job in the corner office? Is it wildly successful business that you built from scratch? Well the answer is yes and no.
Many people today believe that in order to achieve happiness in their lives, they have to go for these outer things. They spend all their time believing that when they finally achieve their career or financial goals that they will be happy. And many times these successes do provide temporary happiness, but it never lasts that long.
Speaking from experience I know this to be true. When I was a kid all I wanted to do was join the military. I could have sworn that’s all I wanted to do. Come to find out once I went through training and was active duty, I found myself asking….now what?
I spent so much of my time looking forward to this and just counting down the days, only to find that I was automatically looking for the next thing to bring me happiness.
The moral of the story is that the things that you are trying to achieve may not always bring you the level of happiness you were expecting.
And while I still love my life in the military, that was just small example.
Now I have spent years listening to podcasts, reading books and articles, and even talking to other people about this topic. My goal was to answer: What brings about happiness? And through my research, I have come up with 7 things that everybody can do every day to increase happiness in their life.
I have practiced these techniques in my own life, and from my experience my life has improved in countless ways.
And I am excited to share them with you; let’s dive in!
1. Practice Forgiveness
Learning how to forgive yourself and others is great step towards a better life.
Throughout your life, there are going to be certain people or events that upset you or make you angry. This in turn generates a lot of negative emotions inside of you, which has the power to ruin your attitude.
If this goes unchecked, it can seriously damper how you conduct you day-to-day activities.
Forgiveness is not about confirming that what a person or event did to you was okay, but rather your willingness to release any negative emotions you have around it. You are basically freeing yourself from the bad emotions.
Think about it like this: if you fall and hurt your arm, in the moment the pain is great, but after a while, there is no more pain, it’s completely gone. You still have the memory, but you don’t feel the pain anymore.
Forgiveness is the same way. You release the emotions to the point where it no longer affects you negatively.
I recommend the next time someone or something hurts you, remember this article and give them nothing but forgiveness.
2. Do Something Nice for Others
Finding a way to do something nice for others is a sure fire way to help you feel more satisfied.
Just think about it. If I were to give you say $100 and I told you that you have to spend either all of it on you, or all of it on someone else. Which do you think would bring you the most satisfaction?
Spending it on other people of course!
Research has shown that when you do kind things for others, it can have a positive effect on your health. Not only will it reduce negative feelings such as anger, resentment, and hostility, but it reduces feelings of loneliness.
Doing things for others gives us the feeling of belonging, which in turn to leads to more opportunities for happiness in our lives.
You can start with simple things such as asking people about their days, bringing them coffee, or simply smiling in their direction.
I recommend each day that you find three people in your life and give them a sincere compliment. It’ll make their day and it’ll give you the warm fuzzies inside!
Meditation has so many positive effects surrounding it that it’s sometimes known as the miracle cure. And with good reason!
Here are some of the benefits of meditation.
- Improve quality of sleep
- Reduce risk of heart attack
- Makes you more compassionate
- Boosts your Immune System
- Helps relieve pain
- Lowers blood pressure
There are many more benefits to meditation, those are just my personal favorite. And what I like most about meditation is that you can customize how you go about it.
You can choose where you want to meditate, what position you want to be in, how long you want to practice it for, and many other options to best suit your lifestyle.
Research has also found that it only takes a few minutes for you to start feeling to positive effects of meditation! So anyone can fit it into their daily schedule. Pretty cool right?
I recommend you start with just 10-15 minutes of meditation a day, and then change up your sessions based on your schedule and individual needs.
4. Exercise Daily
Everyone has heard that they need to exercise at least 30 minutes per day in order to stay healthy and that’s absolutely true. Along with other factors such as a healthy diet, and avoiding harmful substances, added exercise has shown to have numerous benefits for your health.
One of the greatest benefits is the fact that daily exercise releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins have been proven to increase feelings of positivity, as well as reduce feelings of pain.
Ever hear of a runner’s high? Well it’s the same concept! The endorphins numb the pain and make you feel good in return.
Even better, it doesn’t even matter how intense the exercise is, as long as your body is moving you will see a significant increase in your mood.
Studies have also shown that men and woman suffering from anxiety and depression have shown an increase in their moods when adding daily exercise into their lifestyle routine.
I recommend starting with something light movement to prevent injuries and slowly increase your intensity from week to week.
5. Eat Healthy
The simple fact when it comes to nutrition is that everyone loves junk food. It’s impossible not to. Food companies have been known to add certain additives to their foods in order for you to keep buying more.
But eating junk food is known to have some damaging consequences. For example, large amounts of junk food can increase your likelihood of having diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. High amounts of sodium and simple carbohydrates have been linked to higher feelings of fatigue and depression, and so on.
The simple counter to all of this is to expand your diet by incorporating more healthier choices in what you eat each day. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Eat lean cuts of meat and avoid junk food.
Not only will you have more energy, but studies show you will end up with a more positive mood overall.
Wondering how to prepare food that is healthier? NO worries. There are countless healthy recipes you can find online, that taste AMAZING.
However I will mention from experience that if your body has been used to eating large amounts of junk food, switching to healthy food too rapidly will lead to many detox symptoms. So if you are about to make the switch, I recommend a gradual shift and be ready for some feeling sick symptoms (such as caffeine and sugar withdrawal headaches). But these should only last a few days at most.
(Naturally, ALWAYS contact a medical professional before starting any significant change in your eating or exercise habits!)
6. Practice Good Hygiene
Waking up, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, brushing your hair, and putting clean clothes on is pretty much everybody’s daily routine.
This may seem for many people as just the normal thing to do when you get out of bed, but did you know that this routine has another powerful effect on us?
Confidence and self-esteem are two important factors that can be influenced greatly by good hygiene. When you have increased confidence because of your good hygiene habits, you will be more likely to have positive thoughts about yourself and others. This will in turn lead you to be more successful in social interactions and allow you to meet some really cool people.
All this confidence will lead you to become a little more happier each day!
I recommend finding a good hygiene routine that works with you and your schedule; it’s an easy way to keep the confidence ball rolling.
7. Get Some Sleep
Sleeping is very important to our health, so important in fact that scientists say we need at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. That means we should spend about 1/3 of our entire life on sleep alone.
So how can more sleep make you happier you ask? Studies have shown that consistent lack of sleep makes us more sensitive, makes us bad-tempered, and increases our anxiety and may even lead to depression.
It makes sense if you think about it; do you remember how you feel after those long night without getting any sleep? Pretty bad right?
On the flip side of that, those nights where you were able to get a full night’s rest turned into a pretty amazing next day.
Getting quality sleep has the potential to make you feel healthy, joyful, and strong. On top of that, getting more sleep can reduce the likelihood of epxeriencing fatigue throughout the day.
I recommend in order to get more sleep that you have a set time for when you’re going to bed. You need to establish a good bedtime routine … which should include no television or electronics of any kind for the hour leading up to bedtime, too! where you fall asleep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AUSTIN CAMPBELL
Hi, my name is Austin and let me tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Upstate New York, right after High School I joined to United States Marine Corps. I have been working with them as an Aircraft Mechanic for the last 3 years and am living in San Diego. I love to write when I get the chance. I started a new blog recently.
justsmileblog.com and I encourage you to check it out.