Lists To Live By – List 5: Happiness

Do you want to be happy?  Are you happy?  Let’s all be happier starting today!

Here is a list of strategies that are guaranteed to increase your level of happiness.

Exercise 

Exercise is as close to a magic bullet for all things as we can get)

Relationships and Community 

Hang out with people who are doing what you want to be doing, who lift you, who support you, and who shower you and others with love, kindness, and compassion. 

The longest study ever conducted on wellbeing and happiness found that the strength of relationships and community had the most significant impact on our health and longevity. 


Sleep

Without sufficient sleep, your brain and body will not function as well as they would with adequate sleep.  

Lack of sleep can lead to depression, weight gain, reduced mental functioning, disease, hormonal imbalance, and more.  The opposite of these is also true with proper sleep. 

Eat well

A whole food diet provides your body and brain what they need to keep the good neurotransmitters flowing and your body healthy.  Sugar and processed foods not only lead to physical disease; they also play a role in depression, lack of energy, and poor mood. 

Reduce or Eliminate News Watching

Studies have found that consuming too much mass media news can cause feelings of sadness, anger, hostility, frustration, and depression.  (You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?)

Alternatively, seek out positive news like at dailygood.org.​​

Reduce or Eliminate Social Media


Numerous studies have shown positive benefits on mood, health, and wellbeing when social media time is reduced.  (You Asked: Is Social Media Making Me Miserable?)

Make Progress

Make progress, even if just an itsy-bitsy amount, on your goals and yourself every day. 

Spend More Time In and With Nature

Nature calms us and helps us recenter.  The pace of life slows down when we are in nature and thus slows our rhythms, slows our thoughts, slows our breathing, slows our heart rate.  Nature is a powerful cure to anxiety, stress, and fatigue. ​

Stop Comparing to Others

Comparisons are bogus in most instances.  More often than not we are comparing apples to orangutans let alone apples to oranges and definitely not apples to apples.

Besides, what good is the comparison anyway?  Comparing doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t solve any problems.  All comparing do is make one person feel superior at the expense of another. 

If you are going to compare, then compare yourself to your previous or future self. ​​

Stop Being “Right” All the Time

Trust me, I know.  Being right all of the time is exhausting and utterly frustrating.  Just stop. 

Stop Arguing
 
Arguing fills our body and brain with nasty chemicals and thoughts.  When you feel an argument brewing, have an out strategy at the ready.  Take 100 belly breaths, go for a walk, do ten push-ups, put a pencil in your mouth to force a smile, etc. 


Stop Judging Other People

We are no better than anybody else even though we think we are.  We are merely different, but remember if you were in them, you would do what they are doing and vice-versa. 

Stop Complaining

Seriously, it is not doing you any good, nobody else wants to hear it (even though they act as they do), and it is only digging you into a deeper hole.  Be a solution finder instead. (Read: The No Complaining Rule)

Ask Daily Questions

Journal, hire a coach, or get a friend to ask you these questions every day to keep the ideas “top of mind.”  (See Marshall Goldsmith for a deep dive)

“Today, did you do your best to…”

…to be giving?

…to be compassionate?

…to not argue or be right?

…to know it all?

You choose the questions.  The most important part is the DAILY asking and answering. 


Practice Gratitude and Abundance

Think of gratitude and abundance like a muscle; they must be trained to get bigger and stronger.  The more we purposefully practice them, the bigger and stronger they grow.  


Ask For and Offer Help

Both are vital to long-term sustained happiness.  Do not neglect either.  

Frame Your Goals in Positive Terms

Positive: I will go for a walk every night. 

Negative: I will stop eating ice cream every night.

Positive: I will weight 145 pounds.

Negative: I will lose 20 pounds. 

Upgrade Your Environment

Very little if anything will change if your environment doesn’t change.  Upgrade your environment to optimize your happiness.  Upgrade your environment to increase the likelihood of goal accomplishment and habit change.  Your environment includes those you surround yourself with, your career, your physical environment, and what you consume (books, media, movies).  

If you have been trying to change a habit or achieve a goal and you aren’t making progress, you are very likely dealing with an environmental roadblock.

Start Now


There is not time to be happy in the future; the time to be happy is now.  Don’t postpone happiness because you are too busy, and you “just need to x” and THEN you will start.  NO!  Start today!