Happiness is the current wave. It’s in book names, article titles, Coke ads, McDonald’s Happy Meals, and, you name it.
I think happiness is a general word that encompasses the pure physical body sensations of the emotions of joy, love, and peace. According to Attitude Reconstruction, there are simple things we can do to reliably produce these emotions and experience more happiness and to increase the amount of joy, love, and peace you generate for yourself and your world. I've divided them in to two categories: inner work and outer reaching. Let me know if you have another tip.
Inner Activities to Fuel Happiness
1. Do things to keep in touch with who you truly are.
Write down two things you appreciate about yourself every day for a week and at the end of the week read your list out loud. Stop beating yourself up. Identify the demeaning chatter you repeatedly tell yourself, and interrupt it whenever you hear yourself thinking it. Substitute a contradiction that affirms who you are, such as “I’m whole and complete” or “I’m doing the best I can.”
2. Listen within for answers and speak and act accordingly.
Instead of looking to others for guidance, pause for a minute and look for what you know the answer is, devoid of those "shoulds" and "what will they thinks." If you pair your behavior with your inner knowing, you can be confident you're honoring what's best.
3. Give up your expectation.
Not accepting the reality of what is will cause your anger to boil. Accept that people and situations are the way they are, not the way you think they should be. From this stance, you can take dynamic, loving action.
4. Just say "NO" to negative thinking.
Praise! Appreciate! Be joyful. Look for what's good before you leap into a rant about what's bad. Be grateful! Studies show that gratitude measurably increases your psychological and physical well-being.
5. Turn emotions into motions.
If you feel angry, go to a safe place and move the energy out of you by hitting, stomping, or yelling. If you feel sad or victimized, allow yourself to cry until you feel relieved. When you are anxious, worried, or panicked, act it out by making yourself shiver, quiver, tremble, or shudder. Express all your emotions physically and constructively.
6. Pursue your dreams.
Do something you love or do a new activity.If singing, dancing, playing music, painting, surfing, or yoga bring you joy, do that. Or learn a new skill. Join an exercise class, learn to cook, pick up a musical instrument and take some lessons. Mastering some new endeavor feels really good.
7. Get moving.
We humans were built for motion – not just from the bed to the couch to the computer, but real action. Walking, exercising, and getting involved in team sports are all good for our muscles, organs, bones, and minds. Recent studies show that too much sitting can shorten your life as much as smoking. So get moving!
8. Remember to rest.
When you let your body and brain come to a complete stop, this integrates your experiences and gets you back into balance again. Maybe what works for you is to take a walk, meditate, or a short nap. Taking a time out for your brain is a counter-balance to all your activity and will help you maintain clarity and enjoy the moment.
Life is funny. It is full of wonderful surprises, and yet we often see these as disruptions and inconveniences. We can laugh about them, cry about them, or ignore them. Research shows that laughing not only releases stress, it lifts our spirits, and connects us with other people.
10. Spend time in nature.
Take in the harmony and beauty that abounds. This will connect you to your place in the world and inspire you as you see the perfection of the whole picture. Relish the relative silence.
Outer Activities to Increase Happiness
1. Don't argue – communicate.
Use the Four Rules of Good Communication: 1. Use "I" statements, to express your feelings without blaming others for them. 2. Be specific, avoiding "always" or "never." 3. Focus on kindness, not anger. 4. You are only half the conversation, so truly listen at least 50% of the time.
2. Do things for others.
Give without wanting or expecting anything in return. Offer to assist a work mate who has too much to do. Cook a meal for a friend or acquaintance who just had surgery. Help a friend carry a heavy load. Give strangers or loved ones an appreciation.
3. Reach out to a friend.
Think of a fun activity and make a date to do something you both enjoy. Go to a museum. Go on a hike. Fix a meal. Plan and take a road trip together.
4. Do things for the planet and universe.
Volunteer to help out a non-profit organization whose mission you agree with. Assist in executing a fund-raiser. Or spend some time writing or voicing all the things you are grateful for. Go to an area recovering from a natural disaster and help out.
5. Do things for your environment.
Connect to where you live. Participate in a beach or community clean up. Garden. Recycle your old electronics. Get rid of unused things in your closet and give them to an organization in need.
6. Express your love or appreciation to a loved one.
Whether it’s a parent, child, relative, or friend, write a card, call on the phone, or send a text conveying to them what you appreciate about them. Write a poem. Give a small token or some flowers.
©2018 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Watch video: Shiver to Express Fear Constructively (with Jude Bijou)