Last week we talked about breaking bad habits that get in the way of happiness. Things like allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear, obsessing over the past, and clinging to bitterness, to name a few. When we try to break bad habits, it’s a good idea to replace them with good habits. It makes it easier for us to change behavior.
So here are six suggestions of things you might not think of that will not only help you break old patterns, but make you happier in the bargain.
- Go Outside. Nature can be a wonderful asset in renewing the soul. The Japanese have a name for it: Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Of course you don’t have to be in a forest. A beach works well. A local park. Even your backyard. When you spend time in a natural setting, soaking up the sounds and smells of nature, you feel more alive. Less stressed. Happier.
- Reduce Your Commute. You do know how stressful it is to be in your car in clogged traffic morning after morning and night after night. You’ve probably experienced road rage, your own and others’. Moving closer to work is a drastic step, but it is a good solution, especially if you move close enough so you can walk. If that’s out of the question, try negotiating working at home more so you can avoid the commute altogether some days. Another option is to find a job closer to where you live.
- Make It Past Your 40’s. Take care of yourself, because if you make it past the stressful times when you’re raising a family while juggling a high-pressured job and trying to maintain a relationship with your partner, you’re bound to be happier. Usually that’s sometime in your 50’s or 60’s. That’s when most people finally find a work-life balance and become confident enough to make choices that make them happy.
- Smile. It’s s simple act. But the more you smile, studies show, the happier you feel. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, if you make yourself do it, pretty soon you’ll feel happier. And when you’re smiling, people around you start smiling. Eventually you’ll have stated a smiling epidemic. The same thing goes for laughing. It’s contagious. And it makes you happy.
- Plan a Vacation. Even if you never go, the mere act of planning it can cheer you up. So go online and see where you’d like to explore. What you’d like to do. What charming B and B you’d like to stay in. What snow-capped mountain you’d like to climb. What palm trees you’d like to snooze under on a sunny afternoon. Imagining a getaway is a vacation for your mind and an exercise that lifts your spirits.
- Find Someone to Help. You can help yourself by eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, yes. And it’s a really good idea. But when you take the focus off yourself and put it on someone else, it can be a direct route to happiness. It’s amazing how doing good for someone else has the enormous side effect of doing something good for you—making you happy. It feels good to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.