There would be none in this entire world who wouldn’t want to be happy. As humans, we always seek happiness. But more often, we try to look for it externally, while the easiest way is to find it within ourselves.
For long, I was cluelessly trying to figure out what can be done so that happiness becomes sustainable – and I realized that it’s actually so easy to be happy. All we need is to replace the unwanted with the good things in life.
Here are 18 simple steps that we can all follow to be happier in 2018.
1.Set goals rather than resolutions.
With the onset of a new year, we all start chalking out our resolutions (most of which we fail to follow). Losing weight, eating healthy, hitting the gym, sticking to vegan food are just a few common ones that we always add to our list and tend to lose the grip within the first couple of weeks!
So this time, let us decide to set goals that would be achievable, rather than forcing ourselves to follow resolutions. Smaller goals are usually more attainable. Hence, I will take baby steps towards my goals, and keep a note of all – just to feel the happiness while ticking them off my list.
2. Choose a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve realized that it’s difficult for me to give up junk food entirely – because I totally love my share of burger and french fries! Hence, I’ve decided to balance it out with more of fresh fruits and green veggies while I’m eating at home. I’ve realized the need for 6 hours of sound sleep, and hence I’m giving up my Netflix subscription. Going for an hour’s walk can be easily managed, and it’ll give me some more time to spend with my little pug.
In today’s date, when everything seems to be rushing at a great speed, it’s good to go slow and realize that being healthy is more important than anything else.
I went for Vipassana a couple of years back, and it was an incredible experience. I had never felt so close to myself before. It was as if I would consciously feel every breath of mine. Once I returned back, I used to meditate regularly. But slowly, in the hustle and bustle of life, I gave up the good habit. This year, I won’t give any excuse but meditate regularly.
Meditation not only helps to rejuvenate our mind and body but also relaxes all our senses and makes us a calmer person. It gives us the ability to focus on our priorities and enhances our concentration. It is a proven tool to increase happiness and we all should use it for our benefit of living a good life.
4. Eliminate the unwanted.
Often, we have to do certain things that we don’t really enjoy. Yet, we have to do it, either because we are responsible for the task or there’s some other reason attached to it. But that might not be the case for all. This year, let us try to be a little wiser and track the unwanted – and eliminate them for good.
If something is not making us happy, it’s time let it go. We just need a moment to realize whether we really like something or not – and whatever we don’t like, should be shredded off. Once we eliminate the unwanted, we shall instantly feel lighter and happier.
5. Learn to say ‘NO’ more often.
Therapists have to say that people-pleasing habit can hurt our mental well-being. Saying ‘Yes’ to every offer that comes our way, even the ones we really don’t agree to, can have long-term consequences and might make things extremely difficult in future.
For a change, this year let’s practice the art of saying ‘No’ – politely and convincingly. Let us not burden ourselves with unwanted invitations and responsibilities.
6. Get into the habit of journaling your day-to-day life.
Writing down our thoughts can help us to clear our mind, said Amy Poon, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, but a mode of confession. We often feel scared to share all our thoughts with someone, thinking about the consequences. Hence, writing them down in a journal can be a good way to set out mind free from all those thoughts.
Also, reading them later will help us in self-assessment and we shall be able to see how we have shifted from one thought to another. Journaling can be very cathartic and thus, a means to be happier in life.
7. Meet the old friends over a cup of coffee.
With WhatsApp and Messenger becoming more engrossing than ever, we indulge in forwarding messages to each other rather than expressing what we truly want to say. Sometimes, all we need is a hug from a dear friend, and not those two liners blinking on our phone.
This year, in order to be happy, I have decided to stop giving excuses like “I’ve too much work at the office” or “I’ve to run some errands” and meet up those old friends, who mean a lot to me. We must all step ahead of the virtual world and feel the love, in real.
8. Spend more time with your loved ones.
Family comes first, and we often tend to forget that. However, it goes without saying that being around people whom we love makes us happier. It’s better to disconnect with those whom we can’t feel at ease and replace them with those who give us positive energy. This will surely help in making 2018 a more meaningful year.
Come home early from work to spend an extra hour with the kids. Cook lunch on a Sunday for parents and grandparents. Go for dinner dates more often. Research says that being with loved ones helps in releasing endorphins (also known as the happiness hormone!).
9. Spend money on experiences rather than materials!
In this day of growing consumerism, we are all becoming too materialistic. But what’s the use of all that junk we are buying? Why not spend money in experiencing something worthy, the memories of which will last a lifetime?
A study by a group of psychologists has proved that memories, not material possessions, make us happier when it comes to spending disposable income.
10. Indulge in something, passionately.
Following our passion is extremely important, and not many are lucky enough to have converted their passion into a profession. I know a friend who loved photography, yet was stuck with a regular 9-to-5 job, till she decided to give it up to hone her skills further. Now she’s doing excellent as a wedding photographer and happier than ever.
Progress always makes us happier, and if it has got something to do with our passion – then the happiness just doubles.
11. Give something without expecting anything back in return.
This year, let’s lend our time to a cause we care about. Most of our acts have some vested interests associated with it, and they are rarely selfless. We keep thinking what we can reap from the seeds we’ve sown. This year, how about volunteering at an orphanage with the adorable little ones? It’s only when we go and spend time with them, we’ll get to realize how much love they have to share, yet they’re living a life they probably don’t deserve.
I believe that a volunteering experience makes us more humble and compassionate towards others. And to quote a famous saying by H. Jackson Brown Jr, “The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
12. Be more grateful.
We have more than many people out there, and yet we keep craving for more. The urge to have all the good things will never cease and it will keep increasing with each passing day. We need to put a pause to it, consciously and feel grateful for all that we have.
Wake up every morning, and say ‘Thank You’ for another beautiful day. Once we start feeling grateful for every good thing in life, we’ll automatically be happier than we usually are.
13. Travel more.
To draw a line from the thought of spending more on experiences rather than materials, I would choose to travel more this year and see more places, meet diverse people and learn about the bigger world that’s beyond my known zone. Being in an enclosed surrounding often takes a toll on us, and clutters our mind with unwanted thoughts.
Travel sets us free and helps in discovering our hidden potentials. It’s a way of experiencing life differently. Witnessing the sunset at another part of the world can fetch unparalleled happiness for sure.
14. Smile more.
It doesn’t take much to share a smile. I’ve seen that passing on a smile often helps me to connect instantly with people. It makes us a much warmer and approachable person than those who are usually grumpy.
Research has shown that smiling triggers positive associations in our brain that spark happiness instantly. This externality does not take much extra effort and we can adopt some simple ways to smile more in your day to day lives.
15. Worry less about what others think.
Often, when we are concerned about what others think of us, we are taken out of the present moment to ponder over unnecessary thoughts. Plus, doing so does not help us to accomplish anything productive.
Instead, we should rather do what we want to do, regardless of how others might perceive those actions. There are enough amazing people in the world who will love us for being the way we are and we would never need to do anything extra to please them.
16. Spend less time on social media.
As I mentioned earlier as well, social media often takes us away from the reality and leaves us craving for something that might just not be attainable. We often get sad to see pictures of an acquaintance traveling in Paris! It’s a common human nature. We tend to feel like that we do not stack up against our peers and all that we care about is our external images.
Using social media less in 2018 will remove us from those types of sentiments and make us happier with our respective lives. We shall focus more on what we have, rather than what we don’t.
17. Love Thyself.
Falling in love with our own selves isn’t as hard as it seems, but we often fail to do so. When we think poorly of ourselves or our actions, we are usually committing a disservice. Instead, it’s better to accept who we really are.
We will not always make the right choices or be happy with how others see us. That is okay, though. As opposed to judging, let’s just accept where we are in our lives and think about what we can do to be a better version of ourselves. Once we are in love with ourselves, we’ll be happier than ever.
18. Live. Every moment.
Last, but not the least – it is absolutely necessary to live every moment to the fullest. Listen to what the heart says and act accordingly. It’s important to know that life is what is happening now and there would probably be no second chance!
We are solely responsible for our happiness. As His Holiness The Dalai Lama pus it, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”