I have spent a lot of time – and money – working out that happiness is different to pleasure, and that I don’t need an A-listers budget to spend money on expensive clothes and holidays, in order to have a deep sense of day to day happiness. Here are my 12 tips for happiness, that you can incorporate into your daily life.
1) Have an ice-cold shower every morning. If you can’t bear it ice-cold, just make it as cold as you can. The first time you try this, you might only make it through a couple of seconds before it’s too much, but research suggests that 2 minutes under cold water every day has an anti-depressive effect after a few months. Cold showers are part of my daily spiritual practice. You might not think of it as selfcare, considering! But I could not start my day any other way now.
2) Get 20 minutes of daylight before midday for increased levels of vitamin D and to help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. More sleep = more happiness!
3) Have a healthier relationship with your phone. Try not to take it when you’re on a walk, or with friends. Don’t take it to bed with you and turn off notifications an hour before you want to sleep. See if you can challenge yourself to schedule a detox once a week. This one is hard, I’m not going to lie. But I now look forward to my digital sabbath every weekend. From sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday, you will not be able to reach me!
4) Stretch and move your body every day – even just for 10 minutes. Chose a modality that works for you, whether that is a slower practice like yoga or tai chi, or something that really gets the heart pumping like running or cycling. Personally, I prefer to do my exercise first thing in. the morning, but do whatever works for your life.
5) Dance or sing – like no one is watching, as the cliche goes! So many mood-enhancing hormones are produced when you let off steam by belting out your favorite tune, or shaking your thang in the kitchen.
6) Meditate for 20 minutes every day. Twice a day if you can manage it. You might find it hard to start with a full 20, so start with 5 and build up. Neuroscientists will tell you that at least 12 minutes is the optimum for changes in the brain, improving mental wellbeing. Again, see if you can start your day with some short meditation – you’ll find excuses not to do it otherwise. And when you have that habit set, add in another later in the day.
7) Use mood-boosting essential oils like bergamot, orange and grapefruit. Citrus fruits have a stimulating and energising effect, plus they also contain D-Limonene which supports the healthy functioning of the liver.
8) Be a proactive member of a community – your street, your gym, a club, your place of worship. It has been shown that having a sense of community is one of the number one factors in the happiness index. Don’t currently feel like you belong? Start something yourself – other people will be grateful if you reach out.
9) Treat yourself to something that brings you joy – a piece of cake, some beautiful shoes, an interesting book. Yes this is about pleasure, as you will surely be hit with a dose of dopamine afterward, but as long as the cake you’re eating is a treat and not a habit, go for it.
10) Show a stranger a random act of kindness. Kindness begets kindness. and you will find the universe responds well to those who do things for others with no expectation for returns.
11) Bring some nature inside – collect some pine cones, display some seasonal flowers or some beautifully shaped branches.
12) Create a list of things that make you feel happy that take from 5-60 minutes to do. Make a commitment to yourself to do something from that list every day. If you feel like you don’t have time, choose something for 5 minutes, and add it on to the end of something you do every day that is habitual. So for example, take 5 minutes to move and stretch after you’ve cleaned your teeth in the morning.
Which of these tips are you going to try first? Leave a comment to let me know. Or offer any of your own tips for happiness!
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