Do you start your day feeling happy and positive about life? Scientific research is showing us that positive thoughts and emotional states have a profound effect on our health and how we perceive, think, feel and perform. We all know that positive emotions feel good – and it’s no wonder since they actually help all of our body’s systems to synchronize and work better.
So how can you cultivate more positive emotions and happiness in your life? Happiness is actually a state of being. It’s an overall sense of well-being, joy or contentment. This kind of true happiness flows through your entire being. It brightens your life. It’s the inner glow that fills your soul, that brings color and light to all your experiences.
Here are ten ways to increase your overall sense of happiness every day:
Choose Happiness. If you don’t like the way you feel you can always choose a better feeling thought or a better response to a situation. Decide how you most want to feel and consciously cultivate those feelings within yourself during your day.
Practice Gratitude. Take time to notice and reflect on things you are grateful for every day. Appreciate even the simple things. The regular practice of gratitude includes such benefits as strengthening the immune system, increasing positive emotions, and helping you feel more alive.
Share a Smile or a Hug. Research has shown that our facial expressions can influence our mood. Even smiling for a brief time can make you feel happy. Hugs balance out the nervous system and stimulate release of the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin. Hugging for an extended time also lifts your serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. Share a smile and perform small acts of kindness and see how good you feel when you help others.
Replace Worry with Positive Expectation. Anticipate that good things will happen. Imagine the best case scenario that you could experience. Positive expectations can lead to a more positive life. Expect more things to be grateful for and you will attract more things to be grateful for.
Empower Yourself. Keep your thoughts and words positive and uplifting. Write out positive affirmations about yourself and your life. Meditate on your favorite scriptures or inspirational quotes. You can put up post-it notes or write out your quotes on index cards to keep with you. Ask yourself empowering questions. Instead of asking, “Why am I so tired?” ask “Why am I so happy and full of energy?” This will immediately change what your brain focuses on. When you change the question, you change your results. It changes your perspective which will change your actions which will change your life.
Try New Things. Break out of your routine. Start a new hobby, walk down a new street, try that new breakfast café. Plan that weekend getaway to renew and refresh.
Have Things to Look Forward to. Make future plans for things you will enjoy and savor the anticipation. One of the keys to happiness is having something to look forward to. Don’t forget to plan for small pleasures in your day-to-day life. Plan the massage, trying out that new restaurant with a friend or taking that bike ride in the park.
Take a Deep Breath. Deep abdominal breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which guides our body from stress to relaxation. By training yourself to breathe slowly and deeply in a mindful state on a regular basis, you will notice a shift in your energy level, your mental clarity and overall well-being.
Strengthen Your Relationships. Many research studies have shown that satisfying relationships are associated with better health, greater happiness and even a longer life. This effect is not limited to romantic relationships. Close friendships and social connections with family and the community can also help your health and happiness.
Care for Your Body. Nourish yourself with whole foods, water and sufficient sleep. Be sure to include plenty of physical activity and exercise. Exercise has been shown to increase happiness in many ways. Exercise helps to clear your mind, reduce stress and increases the release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and can be accompanied by a more energizing outlook on life.
Do something nice for yourself today. The true key to happiness is in doing your best to create joy in as many moments as you can.
-Diane Duvall, Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935.