Happiness is something we all crave. It often seems that it’s just around the corner if we can just work hard enough – but what if you check all the boxes and we’re still not happy?
Research in positive psychology shows that while a portion of our happiness is due to our genes and life circumstances, 40 per cent is determined by our daily thoughts, emotions and behaviours (which, by the way, we have complete control over). So here are the top nine habits of extremely happy people, which, if practised daily, will allow you to take control of your own happiness and enjoy greater personal and professional fulfilment in your life.
1. Cherish your health
Exercise releases a cocktail of chemicals that helps keep your heart healthy, reduces weight, aids sleep quality, and bolsters self-confidence. It also alleviates stress and makes you more resilient. Remember to include a balanced diet and seven hours of sleep.
2. Live your life your way
A hospice nurse wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying and the number one regret was ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’. Don’t let the expectations of others rob you of your own dreams and goals. Live the life you want to live. Make the choices that are right for you and then take action today.
3. Live with a meaningful purpose
It’s amazing how people come together as one in times of national tragedy. A sense of meaning is suddenly given to people’s lives and they respond magnificently. Your best self has a chance to shine when you live with a meaningful purpose. Create your own purpose by identifying a cause that you passionately believe in and which allows you to utilise your strengths and energies.
4. Cultivate optimism
The happiest people put an optimistic spin on whatever happens in their lives. They ditch the notion of something being fair or unfair, instead just accepting what is. Every situation is a life-learning opportunity. Optimism leads to less stress, longevity, better performance, and healthier relationships.
5. Tune into happiness
Tune into good news and not bad news. We live in a society that sensationalises unhappy events because it sells. So make the choice to focus on the positive things in your life that uplift you – with the books you read, the movies you watch, the web sites you visit, the friends you spend time with.
6. Live in the present
We spend 47 per cent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing. We’re either regretting something we did yesterday or we’re worrying about something we might do tomorrow. But happiness is in the now. Practise mindfulness activities when eating a meal, listening to a friend, exercising, or when reading.
7. Be grateful
Gratitude is one of the kings of happiness. It reminds us about what we have, instead of what we don’t have. We recognise our accomplishments, our life teachers, our supportive family and friends, our health, and our freedom to make choices and to change our life.
8. Nurture your relationships
Surveys reveal that people with 5 or more close friends are 60 per cent more likely to be very happy. To maintain our relationships we need to nurture them through regular face-to-face contact where we practise spreading good news, listening, and showing compassion.
9. Help others
The best way to feel instantly happier is to help someone else. It releases chemicals associated with wellbeing leading to a Helper’s High. The act of kindness positively affects the helper and the receiver. Also, when you help someone else you are distracted from your own worries and you learn gratitude for your own circumstances.