March 20th is officially World Happiness Day. Sounds like a very cool thing, right? Yay, so much fun! But the truth is that most people really aren’t that happy. According to a recent study, only 1 out of 3 people in the US are very happy and we’ve officially dropped from 13th to 14th in the World Happiness Report of 2017. Norway took the top spot while Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland rounded out the top 5. The study showed that GDP was one of the main contributing factors around the world which is why mostly developed nations are at the top while much poorer and war stricken countries are at the bottom.
Here are 5 ways to increase your happiness.
Nurturing Relationships. The World Happiness Report talks about social connection. We are humans and we need human connection. Social media is great, but if you’re not fostering actual relationships, you’re bound to be unhappy. How does that represent itself? Spending more time with loved ones. Going out of your way to make friends. Getting out of your house and going to events you enjoy. You’re bound to meet like minded people and possibly meet new friends.
Seeking out new experiences. This is one of my favorite things to do. While I’m a creature of habit, I do love to seek out new experiences. I guess Tony Robbins is correct when he says we need certainty and uncertainty. I love my normal mountain bike ride, but at the same time, I love hitting new trails. There is truly nothing like the first time. Just remember the first time you met your spouse, or made love to them. The presence and aliveness you felt. While it’s unrealistic to feel that all the time, you can practice living in the moment and understanding that everything is new. Recover your sense of innocence about life and watch your level of happiness increase.
Helping others. Generosity was a large component of the current report. Studies has also shown that helping others, or simply giving, brings you joy. Even the great sages of Eastern philosophy knew this years ago, the quickest way to happiness is to serve people. It’s that simple. It gets you out of your own head and your own worries. If you’re feeling stressed, go help someone or volunteer at your local boys & girls club, nursing home, or hospital.
Being grateful for what you have. Years ago I remember saying to a friend that it’s important to be grateful for what you have and stop focusing on what you don’t. I still feel the same way and so many studies about happiness include gratitude. Gratitude is one of the key factors in decreasing stress and increasing your happiness. This is also how it’s easy to see happy people in developing nations. I’ve traveled to India and a few countries in Africa. While people seem to having nothing relative to our standards here in the West, they seem so happy. I believe it’s because they are happy with what they have. To be fair, I also believe it’s important to use what you don’t have as motivation. The caveat is to make sure that motivation doesn’t deter you from the fact that your life is truly abundant.
Savoring the moments. This might be one of my favorite ways to increase happiness. I’m experiencing it more and more with my 13 month old daughter. I put her in a backpack, we go for a hike, and we stop every few feet because there is so much for her to see. A rock slide, wild flowers in bloom, amazing views. Normally these are things I would definitely give a moment to, but not nearly savoring as much time as she is. But everything is new for her and it’s so wonderful to come back to basics and take in the world simply as it is.
So, get out there and enjoy this life you’re living right now! It’s not that hard to do and too many of us get caught up in the mind chatter and we miss the opportunity of living a truly happy life. Remember, I’m also here to help you along the road. Send me a message @teddymcdonald.
Originally published on the author’s website.