10 Ways To Bring More Happiness Into Our Lives
Last weekend, I spontaneously went back home to Pharr, Texas to visit my parents. I’m not sure what it is about visiting the Rio Grande Valley, but every time I come back to Houston it has the ability to revitalize my life and re-focus where I am going in it. It could be the calmer pace of life, the food, family, rich Mexican culture…either way I have been reflecting on the different ways that keep me happy and fulfilled. These are 10 I would like to share:
1. Go outside
Research shows that people who spend time outside experience less anxiety and depression. By walking or performing other exercises outdoors you can improve mood and short-term memory.
A few things you can do outside other than exercise are reading, sketching, walking your dog, or playing outdoors with family. Some ways I enjoy being outside if I am not walking or running around are to sit outside at on my apartment balcony, sit by the pool, or go to a park and allow my feet actually feel the ground. This provides a calming or peaceful effect for me, while allowing me to stay connected and grounded to my environment.
2. Get back to your creative zone
Sometimes we get so caught up in tasks to survive our daily grind we forget to reserve time to do things that we used to like doing as a child. Remember how fun it was in school when you got to sit around coloring, painting, drawing, or other arts and crafts?
Other ways to engage in your creativity could be journaling, taking pictures, trying out a new recipe to bake or cook. The point of all this is to allow yourself to get away from the negative energy or thoughts that are causing stress so that happiness has more room to occupy and manifest itself.
3. Watch a movie
Another thing that I never really thought about brings happiness into my life is sitting at home or at the theater to watch a feel-good movie. Maybe it’s possibility of learning or experiencing something new. Documentaries (I know, very nerdy of me), comedies, and adventure films are at the top of my list when it comes to my happy-feeling factors.
4. Connect with your friends
In a digital world that is so easily connected to social media, sometimes it is just hard to feel connected to someone. For those of us living away or apart from family it can get incredibly hard to feel like there are others in the same life phases. Luckily, there probably are others in your circle of friends that are experiencing the same shifts or hardships.
I’ve always been firm a believer in if you want to have a good friend you must first be a good friend. If a friend calls me wanting to talk about something, chances are I am going to try and make time to listen to them right then or call them back as soon as I can.
You can call or text message a friend asking them how they are doing, how is work, or even send them funny messages just to let them know you value their friendship. You can also try to make time a least once or twice a week to spend time with friends. It feels good knowing that a person or group of people is around that you can laugh and talk about anything with (even if it is just about what you ate for dinner the night before).
5. Have a music (and maybe dance!) session
These are my favorite! My closest friends definitely know me to always be scouring the Internet for new music to listen to and when I do I shoot everyone a message or link to listen too.
A lot of people connect to music and it makes them feel something right away depending on the beat or lyrics. Whether you like to listen to music as you're getting ready for the day or evening, on the weekend, in your car, or out somewhere, make sure to have fun with it (and DANCE if that’s what you like to do!)
6. Create a to-do list and actually do the things you’ve been meaning to do.
You know those tasks that are in the back of your mind and gnawing away at you everyday waiting to be done? Make a list of those things to get them out of your head and then do them one by one. Need to do the dishes? Load the dishwasher. Need to get an oil change? Set a day this week and do it. Been meaning to go check out that new movie? Check out the available times to go see it.
Creating this visual list can help relieve overwhelming feelings and reduce procrastination tendencies. When tasks look do-able rather than daunting in your mind you’re probably also more likely to actually do them. Not to mention, who doesn’t love feeling proactive and taking care of business?
7. Practice meditation.
Ahhh, meditation. With all of the new yoga studios popping up everywhere, it would be easy for me to just say find a studio and sign up. But I think that you can really meditate just about anywhere like your office space, car, room, corner of living areas, etc
When you come across a memory or something that makes you feel happy, hold on to it and don’t let it go. Allow it to cultivate itself and think about what made you happy, why did it make you happy, or do you think something like this could make you happy again?
A lot of people read self- help books to help them get through tough periods, but if that’s not something you’re in to; articles, magazines, newspaper columns are also solid choices to find something optimistic. Practice absorbing motivational, inspiring, or even therapeutic reads on a daily basis and see how much more optimistic you can begin to feel.
9. Explore your city
A good friend and I began making it a point to explore new places around Houston to help us get out of our weekly schedules. We even started calling our weekend hangouts more like adventures. Life actually became a little more fun because it was new people, new aesthetics, new menus, and new vibes.
Sometimes trying out new places doesn’t have to be scary. It can be very exciting if you’re open to it. Try out a new running trail/route, restaurant, coffee shop, new drink, or new dessert. Think of it this way: switching things up can lead you to find new things that you just may like. What have you go to lose?
When I was running in college and would get nervous about racing or hard workouts, a teammate shared with me some advice her brother gave her to relax before the starting gun went off. She said he told her to line up and just smile, because at the end of the day she was able to do something that made her feel happy—and that is always a reason to smile about.
To add to this, smiling also helps relieve whatever tension we are holding onto in our face, neck, and upper body. Just for common sense purposes—the easiest way to tell if someone is happy or not, is in their smile.
Maybe we have a few of these in common? What other ways do you all invite or manifest happiness into your life? I’d like to know and please share!
ALSO- if you haven’t already, you may also connect with me on social media @starla_shines via Instagram or twitter to keep up with more daily adventures.! Here are just a few pictures I took last weekend: