The catchy and upbeat tune emanates from the radio, instantly bringing to the listener’s mind the lyrics to follow. Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking, I want you to be happier, I want you to be happier. Marshmello and Bastille’s Happier, released in 2018, is a well-known song whose tune and words are familiar to the preponderance of teens and young adults. Happier holds widespread appeal because it echoes a profound truth about humanity: daily, we are engaged in a search for happiness.
Despite this quest for happiness as a recurring theme throughout history and existing as an ever-present worry, humanity has yet to identify the universal holy grail that ensures happiness. But you can still take many small steps to improve your happiness, particularly in the realms of physical and emotional well-being.
Exercise can do absolute wonders for physical well-being and overall happiness. Living an active lifestyle has time and time again been linked to decreased depression, improved health and an increase in happiness. On a scientific level, the body releases chemicals such as serotonin, endorphins and dopamine with exercise, relieving stress and elevating overall contentment.
Here’s the beautiful thing about exercise: there are so many ways to go about it! Hate running? Then don’t do it! Swimming, rowing, elliptical, jump rope and a myriad of other exercises can get the heart pumping and achieve that cardio goal just as easily. Exercise can and should be fun, not merely advantageous.
#2: Healthy Eating
Cutting out unhealthy foods or opting for healthier alternatives makes the body happy and positively affects the brain! Diets that include lots of trans fats, sugar and overly processed foods result in an imbalanced gut microbiome, elevating the risk for physical and mental health issues. A study conducted in 2017 indicates that taking steps to improve one’s nutritional health may be more meaningful than companionship for those struggling with mental health issues.
Sleep quality and consistency are undoubtedly linked to happiness. Most adults should be striving to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to avoid irritability, negative thought patterns and focus difficulties.
It’s not just how much sleep a person gets, but also when they sleep. A study found that people struggled with “repetitive negative thoughts” when they didn’t get 7-9 hours of sleep, and even if they met that threshold but went to sleep later in the night, they still struggled. Heading to bed early and getting 7-9 hours of shut-eye can help stop those negative thoughts and contribute to overall happiness!
#1: Intentional Relationships
During tough seasons of life, it can be tempting to retreat within oneself, alienating those closest to you. It is vital to head off this pattern early; engaging in intentional and meaningful relationships can do wonders for happiness.
A study that followed 724 men over 75 years determined that positive relationships are potentially the single greatest contributing factor to emotional well-being. Being intentional about these relationships is equally important. Vulnerable self-disclosure and constructive response will help relationships withstand the test of time.
#2: Fulfilling Activities
For type-A workaholics, taking a break and prioritizing alone time calls for an incredible amount of willpower. Make sure you do it! Engaging in fulfilling activities can help one feel more accomplished and enthusiastic. These vary from person to person but can look like any number of things: sports, hiking, painting, photography, singing, etc.!
#3: Practicing Gratitude
Have you heard of a gratitude journal? It turns out it might be more than just a feel-good exercise. Research has shown that those who focus on and document things that they’re grateful for report being happier and also pay fewer visits to the doctor than those who focus on downsides. Regularly practicing gratitude positively affects personal gratitude, physical well-being, and interpersonal relationships.
While the positive benefits of these six emphases are firmly founded in science, they certainly aren’t the only ways to improve physical and emotional well-being. Spend some time researching, self-reflecting and speaking to mentors to build your own checklist to improve happiness!