Psychologists found that happiness is likely a combination of genetics (50%), situation (10%), and individual effort (40%). We can’t control the first two factors, but we have complete control over the third. Here are seven happiness rituals you can adopt today, each backed by science.
1. Make Time for Exercise
Many people are aware that endorphins are released into our brains when we engage in physical activity, and that endorphins make us happy. Additionally, however, when exercising, our bodies also release cortisol. Cortisol is generally released as a response to stressful or frightening situations, leaving us less stressed and more content or even elated. In order to reap the benefits of these stress-fighting chemicals, we only need between 20 and 30 minutes of focused exercise. It is also recommended to perform a variety of physical activities that you enjoy, instead of repeating the same workout every day.
2. Practice Being Thankful
Making it a practice to show appreciation for what we have enables us to experience positive emotions consistently. In recent years, a number of studies have shown a link between gratitude, or being thankful, and an increase in happiness. Being thankful allows room for more, and better relationships, leads to improved mental and physical health, reduces aggressive behavior, and increases the likelihood that you will think positively about yourself. In short, you will become more open, more agreeable, and more pleasant to be around.
3. Adopt a Healthy Diet
Science has found that there could be a link between diet and mental health, and the increasing availability of sugary, processed food is at least partially at fault for increased instances of mental health problems such as depression. Processed foods have been implicated in studies as a cause of increased levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Try sticking to a diet that is simple and not too restrictive, and avoid processed foods. Meatless Mondays is a good first start. Your brain needs to be kept healthy, as it is important for a wide variety of critical functions and processes, including monitoring your sleep schedule and your emotions. By taking proper care of your brain, you help ensure that you feel less stress and experience other mental and emotional problems at a much lower rate than those who generally eat a diet largely composed of heavily-processed food.
4. Increase Mindfulness through Meditation
There is a relatively young concept in psychology called mindfulness, which is a Buddhist idea that focuses on being fully invested in and content with one’s current situation. This concept helps us accept who we are and what we have, as well as forge closer and more fulfilling connections with our surroundings. Mindfulness is typically practiced through meditation. There is a discrepancy between the actual self and the ideal self. The resulting negative emotions are explained by our unfavorable opinions of our current selves, by trying too hard to meet our expectations of our ideal selves, and by focusing on the discrepancy. Mindfulness meditation is a tool we can use to help bridge the gap between reality and the ideal, making us less stressed, more relaxed, more accepting, and ultimately happier.
5. Take Time away from Technology
Many companies, large and small, understand the importance of disconnecting yourself from technology for certain periods of time. Constant focus on screens is disruptive to your sleep schedule and decreases your ability to truly focus on what is important. By ignoring or unplugging your mobile devices periodically, you will spend less time on the internet. As a result, you will have more time to focus on your goals, your work, and your loved ones.
6. Keep Thinking Positive Thoughts
Positive thinking produces health, success and well-being just as much as being healthy, successful and happy results in positive thinking. While positive thoughts are not constant, their occurrence over time can benefit our personal relationships as well as our likelihood of success. Research indicates that while negative emotions narrow your thinking and restrict your abilities, positive emotions expand your thinking and increase your abilities. The result is a cycle of positive thinking, success, health, and happiness.
7. Spread Happiness by Helping Others
Those who help others in any way, whether through donating to charity or volunteering their time, are reported to experience an increase in positive feelings and self-esteem. Those who are generous with their time and success feel more connected to their communities, build powerful and lasting relationships, are more optimistic, are more thankful and content, and feel more self-assured. Feeling connected to others and invested in your community, work, or a project; having a positive outlook, and expressing gratitude are all closely connected to overall well-being and happiness.
It is helpful to think of happiness as a cycle. The more we strive to be happy, the more successful, healthy, and happy we will be, and the more successful and healthy we are, the happier we will be. These seven rituals have been proven to contribute not only to increased well-being, but also improved health and greater success. They are easy to begin, and once made a habit, will bring you consistent rewards.