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I admit I went through depression before in my life – a few times (Yes, you can jump in and out of misery). My short-term psychiatrist says it’s perfectly reasonable to feel a specific emotion during a particular time of your life. Depression varies whether it is through medications (for some medical reason) or a rough time.
As time passes, I figure out a few ways to minimize these depressing emotions and maximize happiness.
“Get over it!”
No, I’m just joking. Here are ten ways to maximize your happiness!
1. What’s the Issue:
How are you supposed to build the happiness skills if you don’t know which ones you are struggling with in the first place?
I suggest, sitting down and writing a list of things you wanted to accomplish, but never had the time or finances to do it. It is difficult, facing all your fail goals such as saving money to take your child on a nice vacation or just finishing college, but sometimes we have to face our problems instead of turning a blind eye.
Please look at that sheet of paper and tell yourself that it’s okay not to accomplish those things.
Then, on a different sheet of paper, write down everything you had accomplished so far in life – even the simple thing such as knowing how to get dressed or waking up to go to work.
You will realize that your accomplished list is longer than your non-accomplished one.
Exercise has a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it is an effective strategy for overcoming depression.
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercised felt better about their bodies even when they saw no physical changes.
There is no way around it, because no matter how much you dislike working out. There are benefits – physically and psychologically – that comes with regular exercise. Exercise is a proven strategy for feeling better, increasing your energy levels, and reducing tension.
Yes, starting may suck at first, but even taking the first step with a 7-minute exercise may be enough — research suggests that a high-intensity session for just 7 minutes can offer a slew of health benefits.
Not only that, those who are just getting started often see the biggest boost in happiness:
The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time.
We know that sleep helps our body recover from the day and repair itself and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out sleep is also essential for happiness.
Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine.
Using a face recognition task, here we demonstrate an amplified reactivity to anger and fear emotions across the day, without sleep. However, an intervening nap blocked and even reversed this negative emotional reactivity to anger and fear while conversely enhancing ratings of positive (happy) expressions.
Of course, how well (and how long) you sleep will probably affect how you feel when you wake up, which can make a difference to your whole day.
4. Money Can’t Buy Happiness (but it can buy you a boat):
Okay, forget the second part – I was listening to this one song – Can you guess which one?
Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying.
If you want more evidence that time with friends is beneficial for you, research proves it can make you happier right now, too.
Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel.
5. To the Left, towards the Door:
Making time to go outside on a beautiful day also delivers a huge advantage; in good weather, it does not only boosted positive mood but broadened thinking and improved working memory.
This is pretty good news for those of us who are worried about fitting new habits into our already-busy schedules. Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.
6. Helping Others:
One of the most interesting pieces of advice I found is that to make yourself feel happier; you should help others.
Helping others does make you feel better, but a little too much of something can stress you out. Limit on the amount of “Yes, I can totally do it” particularly during the time of the year when you’re busy.
Remember there is a difference between helping others and spending money on them. So spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves – results will vary for this statement. Sometimes, spending money on others actually bring more stress. Unfortunately, the more people you know, the more money you have to spend due to holidays, weddings, or birthdays.
Instead of spending money, I suggest spending time.
Humans are social creatures, and a little interaction can bring happiness, but understand your limitation and don’t overexert yourself.
7. Better Yourself:
Now, we are going to take a step back from the previous advice. Before you can help others, you must first help yourself. Yoga won’t help you with cooking and learning Calculus won’t teach you how to work a printer. Focus on a single talent and excel it instead of being good at a bunch of small things. Remember to embrace positive self-views.
Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything.
As it turns out, regularly engaging in your signature strengths (is that not the most stereotypical positive psychology term ever?) is a great way to feel better about yourself.
The long and short of it is that you should find something to excel in and do it as often as you can.
I know, this is one of the more generic ones on this list, but I hope it serves as some food for thought for renaissance men and women — you can certainly still dabble in lots of things, but giving a single skill/task/achievement enough time for mastery may allow for an exceptional experience in itself.
8. For Real, Smile:
Smiling can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts. Of course, it’s essential to practice real smiles where you use your eye sockets. You’ve seen fake smiles that don’t reach the person’s eyes. Try it. Smile with just your mouth. Then smile naturally; your eyes narrow. There’s a huge difference in a fake smile and a genuine smile.
Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. It is also one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly.
9. Plan a Trip (It Helps Even if You Don’t Take One):
As opposed to actually taking a holiday, simply planning a vacation or break from work can improve our happiness.
If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar– also if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then, whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.
Most people are far happier when buying experiences instead of buying material goods. The material goods are more likely to collect dust underneath your bed or inside your closet.
Meditation is often taught to improve focus, clarity, and focus as well as helping to keep you calm. It turns out it’s also useful for improving your happiness.
Meditation clears your mind and calms you down; it’s been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life.
The fact that we can alter our brain structure through mediation is most surprising to me and somewhat reassuring that however we feel and think today isn’t permanent.
11. Move Closer to Work:
The commute to work can impact our mood, where we tend to think more about our life – mainly negatively. Shorten the commute time, and lengthen the productivity in your life.
If you have to commute to work, I suggest listening to a novel. I use amazon kindle to listen to a book instead of music since I have half an hour commute to work or sometimes longer.
12. Practice Gratitude:
This is a seemingly simple strategy, but I’ve personally found it to make a massive difference to my outlook. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you.
Just a simple thank you note or perhaps a holiday card. Although, don’t do it too often or your thank you’s will turn meaningless.
13. Take breaks from Social Media:
Socials media is an excellent place to engage and connect with the people around you, but sometimes you need to take a break.
Did you know we enjoy just about everything more when we do it with others instead of doing it alone?
This is why one of the best things you can do for your happiness is to build meaningful relationships and social connections. To strengthen these relationships, practice kindness and gratitude towards the people you care about – physically.
14. Spend Smarter:
Believe it or not, finances can tie in with happiness to some level. If your bills keep piling up, causing you to be more rooted in debts, then you will stress out more. Learn how to finances adequately.
15. Treat Yourself (the Small Pleasures Matter – and I ain’t talking about – you know):
Jokes aside about treating yo’ self, surprisingly, the research has shown that you need to have small wins along the way to be truly happy — across many different domains, happiness is more strongly associated with the frequency than the intensity of people’s positive, practical experiences.
Undoubtedly a little treat and consistency now and then can go a long way for your happiness while you make plans for your big goals.