“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
I believe happiness is a state of being. Sure, things are going to happen that make us unhappy, but once we have the skills, we can come back to that state of happiness which often leads to a longer, more satisfying life. People who feel positively about getting older tend to live longer than those who feel more negatively.
1 Savor the moment – It is important to be present in the moment. It is so easy to get caught up in something bad that happened yesterday or to worry about what might happen tomorrow and then we lose the precious present moment. If you catch your mind flying off in all directions, take a deep breath and come back to the present moment. Meditating, even for a few minutes, can also bring you back to the present moment.
2 Practice gratitude – Regardless of what is going on around us, we can find things to be grateful for if we try. And they don’t have to be big things. How about that hot shower you took this morning, or that first cup of coffee or the compliment someone gave you? I am starting to hear birds singing again in the morning which is a sign that spring is coming and I am so grateful for that. It can be helpful to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for every day. Looking for things to be grateful for increase the feel good chemicals in the brain.
3 Have a sense of purpose – Having a sense of purpose gives meaning to life. Certainly our purpose can change over the course of a lifetime but I believe there are some consistent core aspects – the things you are most passionate about. Maybe it’s art or music or creating or teaching or helping others. The form that our purpose takes may change, but I believe it is driven by our passions.
4 Take care of your health – So much has already been written about this but I had to include it here. Regular exercise can keep your cells healthy and your brain happy (see my post on Your Ageless Brain.) Also, check out my post on 14 Things That May Extend Your Life.
5 Build strong social relationships – Studies show that people with a strong social network tend to live longer than those with fewer friends. This is more of a challenge now due to the pandemic, but it always helps to call a friend or have a meeting on zoom. Pets can help here, too. When you can’t hug your friend, hug your pet! I am definitely grateful for my very affectionate kitty!
Do you have other practices that enhance your happiness? If so, I’d love to hear them. I know there are challenges to maintaining this happiness mindset and I will deal with some of those in my next post.