It can help you to see happiness in a whole new light:
- You can learn different ways to become a happier person.
- You can make happiness a habit, something you can work on every day.
- You can treat happiness as a skill, something that you can master over time.
- You can see it as a tool that can help you lead a life with more resilience.
- You can see happiness as something that is obtainable and real.
Let positive psychology show you how you can become happier by implementing these small changes into your life:
Say thank you.
Practicing gratitude rewires our brain to think about positive things, the things that we have going for us, instead of the things we do not have and that can leave us feeling frustrated and unhappy. Everyone has at least something going for them, it’s just that these things are often neglected or taken for granted. Create a gratitude journal and write in it for 5 minutes each morning; list 3 things you are grateful for. It can be the simplest of things, such as having a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, a family that loves you, a career or a job that improves the quality of life to people around you, food in your fridge, a dog or cat that you have as your pet, having an education that allows you to read and write, etc.
Be kind to yourself.
Maybe you’re getting over a difficult and traumatic event, or maybe you’re still in the middle of it. It’s not an easy feeling, not knowing what to do next. Maybe you don’t necessarily have to do anything right now. You can just be patient with yourself, which can take the edge off things a bit. Use this time to reflect on what happened, and find out whatever you can learn from the situation. Try to avoid self-blame or blaming others. Use the time to practice a little self-compassion, be kind to yourself, give yourself some time to heal and get better.
Visualize having a good day.
This is a simple technique that helps to train your brain to anticipate what happens next and to focus on a positive outcome to your day. All you need is 5 minutes. Think about the work you need to do, and picture yourself accomplishing what’s on your list and having enough time to do it. Make an estimate of how much time you’ll need for the important things, and plan what you’ll do if you run into a problem (have a plan B). Finally, imagine doing an activity that will make you happy: running into a friend, having an interesting conversation, watching a soccer game, making the time to play guitar, going on a bike ride, or eating an ice cream cone.
Find any excuse to smile and laugh.
When you smile and laugh, you give yourself an endorphin boost. Endorphins (also known as happy hormones) have many benefits, from reducing stress levels to making you feel happier and acting as a natural painkiller. You can even make yourself smile for no specific reason, and still get the same benefits. According to a facial feedback hypothesis, our brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake smiles, and it interprets the position of your facial muscles in the same way, which helps it release more endorphins.
Make something enjoyable today become an investment in your future.
There are many positive things that can yield big results in the long run, but first you should identify what they are. Start with this:
- First, make a list of activities you enjoy doing that can provide you with benefits in the present moment as well as in the future. It could be doing something related to your personal goals, your skill set, or your relationships: for example, reading more books to gain expertise in a field, getting fit to be able to run a marathon, spending quality time developing a close friendship or better relationship with your partner.
- Second, schedule time to do these activities on a regular basis; add the activities to your weekly and monthly schedule so that you’re consistently working on them: for example, read one book a week, work out every other day, spend Saturdays socializing with people closest to you.
- Finally, implement the change with small steps; it’s better to do something for a few minutes today that can add up to achieving bigger goals in the future: for example, read your book for 30 minutes before going to sleep, go on a bike ride or a 30-minute run in the late afternoon when you’re done with work, get up earlier on weekends so that you can go on a longer hike with friends or partner, and still have time to enjoy dinner together in the evening.
If you want to learn more about how positive psychology can make a big impact on your life, you might enjoy some of these books, podcasts, or video:
- by Tal Ben-Shahar: practical suggestions on how to implement positive psychology in your daily life, for example in school, the workplace, and in your personal relationships.
- by Tal Ben-Shahar: this is a guided journal (think of it as a happiness workbook) with exercises to inspire happiness, gratitude, and positivity in your daily life.
- by Carol Dweck: a book that focuses on how the view we adopt for ourselves – positively or negatively – profoundly affects the way we lead our life. Dweck explains the difference between a fixed mindset (believing that our qualities are set in stone, for example thinking we were “born pessimists” and won’t ever be happy) and growth mindset (believing that we can change our qualities through our efforts, for example thinking we can learn the tools to become happier).
- (a fun show led by bestselling author of The Happiness Project, with small ideas you can apply to your life to exercise your happiness muscle)
- (a podcast to give you inspiration for a healthier, happier life, with topics such as mindfulness, being happier, and changing the world)
- (video by the FightMediocrity channel on YouTube, summarizing the book with animation and highlights of the most important concepts)