After reading Charles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habit, I have been fascinated by habits and how they influence the way we live.
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
– Charles Duhigg
I believe that to be true.
One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people perform each day are not due to decision-making, but are due to their habits.
All along you are thinking that you’re making conscious decisions throughout the day, when really almost half of them are thoughtless habits.
So I want to share some habits that you can incorporate into your life to become happier and healthier.
Shall we begin.
1. Wake up Earlier
I have easily found this to be true. Many studies have shown that early risers are more productive, get better grades, stick to healthier eating habits, have better mental health, sleep better… the list goes on and on.
Start off slow. Don’t set your alarm for 4 am tomorrow if you’re normally up at noon. Start with setting your alarm 20 mins earlier, then add time as you feel more comfortable with waking up early. I bet you will be amazed by how easy it is, and how much happier and accomplished you feel.
2. Eat a Healthier Diet
Eating a well-balanced diet not only has many positive physical effects, but it has a lot of positive mental effects as well. Of course we all know that when you eat healthy you improve your heart health, your waist line, your longevity, etc. But studies show a healthy diet also has a huge effect on your mood, your energy, your brain and your stress level. People who eat well-balanced diets are proven to have less mood swings, fewer health issues and lower stress levels. Sounds like an easy way to become healthier and happier.
I bet you knew this was coming up next. Along with a well-balanced diet, exercise has a bunch of wonderful health benefits. One being happiness! Many studies have shown that people who exercise, whether it be light, moderate or heavy intensity, felt a lot happier after their workout than those who did not work out. Working out has also proven to build self-confidence, improve memory, increase performance at work, improve mood, increase strength and flexibility, etc, etc, etc. I would run out of room here if I kept listing the positive benefits. Take a walk outside or do some squats during a commercial break. Something is better than nothing.
4. Show Some Gratitude
“Oh, I hate my job, I hate my car, I hate where I live…”
Does that sound familiar? Thinking about everything in your life in a negative manner is only going to bring more negativity. Try saying, “I love my job, I am fortunate enough to have a paying job” or “I love my car, I am so grateful I am able to drive myself whenever I want, when so many people don’t have this luxury” and finally “I love where I live, I appreciate the fact that I have a roof over my head.” Find a way to change the negatives to positives and become grateful for the life you have. Studies have shown that writing in a grattitude journal daily or weekly can improve optimism. Make it a habit of writing down what you’re grateful for before going to bed.
5. Read More
Whether it be a book, a newspaper, an article online, just read. Exercise the mind, learn about current events, or subjects that interest you. I was never a big reader until recently. I have started reading more frequently, almost everyday and I love what I have learned not only about the world, but what I have learned about my self as well. If picking up a hard book isn’t your thing, listen to audio books. I bring my dogs for long walks every morning while listening to books. Killing two birds with one stone, and still absorbing all the information the book has to offer. If you need recommendations, I have plenty!
6. Practice Forgiveness
“Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We are bound to the chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped. Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness, that person will be our jailor. When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberator.”
– The Book of Joy
The quote says it all. When we hold grudges, we allow someone else to control our happiness. When you’re mad at someone and the person walks into the room, how does it make you feel? Why allow that person to have such control over your happiness? Forgive and let go. Most importantly, forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over that pint of ice cream you ate, or that bad grade you got. Tomorrow is another day and I promise, it is going to be okay.
7. Smile More
Smile at your neighbor, the guy in the elevator, the guest that walks past you on the way to the restroom. Smile at everyone all the time. Studies prove that when you smile, you actually release endorphins that are responsible for making you happy. and reducing stress. Most of the time when you smile at someone, they smile back, making them happy and less stressed as well. So not only did you improve your own mood, but you also improved someone else’s mood.
Now that is something to smile about.
Can you think of any habits that could increase happiness? Also, if you have any book recommendations, I am all ears! Please let me know in the comments below.
Peace out girl scout.