Lately, there have been certain days when I just feel happy. From the depths of my being, radiating from inside of me for no reason, happy. I mean, some days I want to shout from the rooftops that my heart is filled with gratitude and overflowing with love for this thing called life. Yes, these days may be few and far between, but they exist. It may sound extreme, especially when my outer circumstances haven’t changed at all and it seems just like any other ordinary day. However, I have noticed a common thread weaving through these days, when a smile appears on my face for no apparent reason.
Below are some of the elements I have found contribute to daily happiness. I have also included suggestions & ideas for self-reflection that you can try to help you figure out what exactly makes YOU happy on a daily basis.
1. Adequate Sleep & Rest
It is like the air we breathe and the food we eat, an absolute necessity! It is well-known that inadequate amounts of sleep contributes to memory loss, unclear thinking, and being in a bad mood. Apart from accepting the results of numerous studies, try doing your own experiment!
Reflection: Compare how you feel on the days when you haven’t received enough sleep with the days you feel well-rested. Did any circumstances change that affected your sleep? Take note of your activities, mood, diet, interactions with others, and personal time. Compare and contrast these lists to see if anything immediately jumps out to you. This small exercise could help you hone in on any habits that need re-evaluating.
2. A Gentle Start To The Day
When we are able to start the morning with ease, we set a calm precedence for the entire day. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have things to do or a schedule to keep. Rather, we begin the day with a certain amount of comfort in not feeling rushed or anxious about how everything will unfold. It is from this state of mind that we approach the day.
Reflection: Think of a time in your life or even a particular moment when you felt completely relaxed. What were the circumstances surrounding it? Where were you? Were you by yourself or with someone? Remembering details can help us jog our memory as to what contributed to a time when we felt at peace. We can then work towards recreating those same conditions and/or adapting our current life to make room for more of that calmness.
3. Consistent Spiritual Practice
For me this is meditation and reading uplifting material that helps guide my self-growth. My day is not complete and I feel like a part of me is absent without taking the time to reconnect with my breath & mind. This looks different for everyone. Your daily practice could be yoga, reading scriptures, painting, or taking a walk.
Reflection: What are some ways you have been able to lift yourself out of a bad mood or a negative period? If you cannot recall, start keeping track of any times you experience a shift in moods and what has helped you come out of this low time. At the same time, think about what keeps you uplifted and positive. Note those down to remind you and refer back to when you need it. You may find that it’s the search for deeper meaning within yourself, which provides the fuel for your happiness.
4. Limit/Eliminate Social Media
I am convinced that in this modern age, social media has to be one of the top contributors to many of our social and psychological problems, including depression, loneliness, and self-esteem issues. It also limits our ability to make decisions for ourselves and takes us away from asking deeper questions. This is not to say that there aren’t benefits in these virtual communities, but unfortunately the addictive qualities make it challenging to maintain moderation. On the days when I feel the happiest, I have had very little or no engagement with social media. I am able to think more clearly, not be preoccupied with what others are doing, and focus on my goals.
Reflection: Next time you find yourself on social media (read: Facebook, Twitter, etc.), make note of how much time you’ve spent on it. Then ask yourself, if and what you have accomplished. If you feel happier and more relaxed afterwards, then you are probably allowing yourself a healthy amount of interaction. However, if you feel more drained and your mood has negatively altered, then you may need to re-examine the time and energy you are giving to these networks.
5.Feeling of Accomplishment
When I can check off even one goal that I have set for myself during the day, I feel more productive and in control of my time. At the end of the day, knowing I was able to complete what I set out to do, helps me to sleep better because I am not ruminating over a list of items that need to be taken care of the next day.
Reflection: Think about the things you would like to or need to accomplish during the week. Take into consideration that the more urgent items should be dealt with earlier in the week than later. Make one list and keep it somewhere handy. Many times having a to-do list for the day can feel overwhelming. Then, when we don’t meet our goals, we end up feeling like we let ourselves down in some way. Instead, creating weekly lists gives us more time to do everything and fit it into our already demanding schedules.
For some, just looking at this word is exhausting. It may mean creating time, buying new equipment & memberships, and learning a new technique. I am here to tell you that exercise doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to mean creating mass amounts of time, spending money, or taking on a new study. Walk, stretch, run an errand, go outside, start from there and just begin gradually. When I have an opportunity to move my body sometime throughout the day I feel so much better than on the days when I have been sedentary.
Reflection: What is one thing you can do right now for exercise? Watching an instructional YouTube yoga video, walking up and down your street, and dancing in your bedroom to your favorite song, all count.
When I am able to create something that comes from my heart, without judgment or fear of evaluation, I can tap into a part of myself that otherwise remains hidden. Letting these otherwise restricted aspects of ourselves roam free everyday helps us to feel more excited about life. Unleashing your unique stamp on this world can come in any form, including but not limited to, writing, photography, scrapbooking, or gardening.
Reflection: When you were a child, what did you enjoy doing? Was it reading, coloring, riding your bike, playing on the swing set, or building Legos? What helped you to feel alive and excited about life? Is there an adult equivalent to your favorite childhood activity? For example, coloring could be an opportunity for you to now explore painting. Chances are likely that this will help you regain that same sense of connection you felt with yourself earlier in life.
8. Positive Attitude
Ever notice how the day feels easier when we keep a positive attitude? We are better able to reserve our mental energy and protect ourselves from unnecessarily using up precious physical stamina. How nice is to be able to shrug off someone else’s negative reaction to a situation and not get caught up in the anguish that results afterwards? Whenever I have made it a point to not let others’ behaviors affect my own, I am able to not take things personally and just accept the moment.
Reflection: Determine to spend one day with a positive attitude. This means being conscious of every action and word spoken throughout the day. Greet others with a smile, say hi to strangers, be patient, and accept the mistakes of co-workers and family members. Notice how others respond to this ‘new you’ and if you receive any out of the ordinary reactions.
When I make time to unwind, I give my body a chance to rest and my mind a break. Activities can be shared in a group with your family or a ritual solely performed for your own self-care. This could be anything from watching a television show together to having a cup of tea by yourself. When we remove ourselves from the over-stimulation of the outside world, we not only feel rejuvenated, but also return to our center.
Reflection: Downtime to you could mean the times you have been working long hours and think to yourself, I just want to go home, lie on the couch under a blanket, and read a book. It could also mean remembering the times before you became a parent or a full-time student, when you could sleep-in and take long naps. If it’s on your mind, then these are the things you should be giving yourself. Don’t let these nourishing activities just be pipe dreams from a past reality. They may not happen as often anymore, but your body and mind are telling you that you need to slow down.
10. Feeling Organized.
Feeling organized encompasses so many aspects of our lives from time management, to living in a clutter-free space, to clearing our minds. This is an ongoing process that requires daily work. Needless to say, it’s all about the journey. We have to begin somewhere and we can start by taking small steps towards our goal(s). Whenever I take an action towards being organized, no matter how big or small the task, I already start to feel lighter and happier. For me, that means spending a few minutes each day cleaning, sorting, or giving away things that no longer serve me.
Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on 3 things that you have been meaning to purge from your living space, including something you have been wanting to address about yourself on an emotional or mental level. Once you have written those 3 things down, work backwards and think about what you need to do in order to let go of these items. Maybe you’ve been holding on to a piece of furniture that reminds you of someone who has passed and it helps you to keep their memory alive by having it in your home. However, realistically this item is just adding to the clutter and you don’t need it in order to remember your time together. Usually when we have difficulty of letting go of material things it’s because we are attaching an emotional value to them. Again, working through this requires time and patience.
Of course, to expect that we will be happy all day, everyday, places unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Things happen that are out of our control all the time and we need to learn to accept all of our emotions as they come.
However, when we do have those awesome days when everything feels aligned and our natural high gets us through the day, it’s important observe what it was about that day that helped us feel that way. Once we figure out what helps us to feel balanced and content, we need to do more of it. Work on incorporating at least one of those things into your daily life.
Happiness lies in our control. We have to work to cultivate it from within. It’s not easy, but we have to begin somewhere. Once we get started, the possibilities are endless.
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