Five steps to help make you happier
If you’re in search of a more fulfilled life then start smiling, because there’s plenty you can do to help increase your own happiness. Here are five ways to help inject more joy in your life.
1. Take care of your health and wellbeing
According to Dr Tim Sharp, founder and Chief Happiness Officer at The Happiness Institute, genetics may play a role when it comes to happiness. Some people have a lower inherited risk of mental health issues and some are just naturally more optimistic and upbeat. But, he recommends embracing a healthy way of life to give yourself the best possible chance for joy. “It’s hard to be happy if you’re sick and tired all the time,” he says. Begin by simply making sure the basic boxes are ticked: good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep.
2. Establish positive relationships
When it comes to having strong social networks, it’s more about quality over quantity. “The reality is we’re not wired to have hundreds of close connections,” Dr Sharp points out.
“You only need a handful of intimate relationships with people you trust, can be vulnerable with and tell deep dark secrets to. If you’ve got one friend like this you’re doing well, and if you have two or three, you’re doing really well.”
Be patient, he adds. “Some find it easier than others to find good friends and the more you work at it, the better you get at building quality relationships.”
3. Work towards a life of meaning and purpose
“What’s meaningful and purposeful to us is different for everyone,” he says. “Focus on finding things in your life that make you feel positive emotions, such as pride and satisfaction.” Make a list of what would make you feel good about yourself and invoke a sense of pride and then strive to achieve them – either via big gestures like volunteering, or through small steps like becoming more well read on a topic you are passionate about.
4. Appreciate what you already have
A simple and powerful tool for making us feel more content with our lives is to practice gratitude. “Make an effort every day to appreciate the things you have, rather than the things you don’t,” says Dr Sharp. Start a gratitude journal, write ‘thank you’ notes when you appreciate the effort someone has gone to and practice looking in the mirror and listing the things you’re proud of.
5. Create a happy home
Since its first release in 2012, the World Happiness Report has crowned Denmark as the world’s happiest country three out of five times. Although in 2017 Norway snuck into the top spot (Denmark came in second and Australia was ranked ninth), Danish people are still amongst the happiest in the world. The Danes have a unique way of living, being and decorating their homes known as hygge (pronounced hoo-gah or heurgh). This, it has been suggested, is the secret that sets them apart from other countries. It’s about savouring the simple things and living your life in a way that makes you feel happy.
When decorating your home with hygge in mind, the great thing is that there aren’t any rules: just follow your joy. To start, however, Charlotte Abrahams, design writer and author of Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures. Living the Danish Way offers these tips: Create an intimate area (try placing an armchair and lamp in the corner of a room); Use soft lighting (add diffusing shades and warm bulbs); Light a fire (or even a candle to create vibe); Bring the outdoors in (“Natural materials like wood have an inherent warmth,” says Charlotte.) Or, just add a feeling of the familiar and domestic. “Hyggelige homes should be a reflection of who you are,” says Charlotte, “and be filled with things that make us feel warm and safe, which is good for our wellbeing.”