Happiness is key to a healthy life. Some times though, there’s lots of negativity around us. From the news to drama in social circles, we live in emotionally trying times.
That’s a little bit of a blanket statement, I’ll grant you, but the fact of the matter is that we’re more connected than ever – to each other, to news, to people of influence, and even to our own pasts.
And this, unfortunately, seems to breed a lot of stress and negativity.
Think about it: when was the last time you scrolled through the comment section on an article without seeing an unpleasant disagreement? Or when was the last time you saw nasty comments on social media? It’s everywhere.
You might assume this isn’t that big a deal, and hey, if you’re a secure, optimistic person, it might not be.
Maybe you’re capable of seeing someone on your Facebook feed posting opinions that offend you and simply laughing it off. If so, good for you! But most of us aren’t really like that.
As a piece on this very topic put it back in November of 2016, research shows that negativity is incredibly harmful and contagious.
But, lets get more positive! That’s what today’s article is all about, learning how to become happier and stress free.
How to be More Positive and Happy
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Believe me, I know how that sounds. If someone had told me to write a gratitude journal five years ago, I’d have probably thought it was insane, nodded and agreed politely that it was a worthwhile deal, and internally dismissed it completely.
You’re doing that right now, aren’t you? Fair enough. But if you’re feeling stressed out and weighed down by negativity, you should give it a real shot.
Psychology Today wrote up a guide on how to do it right, but the basics are simple: this is a list that you contribute to every single night of specific things you’re grateful for.
It’s just a way to remind yourself that your life is awesome – and that some little post online that ticked you off really wasn’t a big deal in the greater scheme of things and thus doesn’t deserve to sway your emotions or state of mind. Things you could be grateful include:
- Your family
- Your friends
- Career and money
- Shelter and safety
- Making progress towards goals
Awesome inc put together a wonderful infographic on the benefits on gratitude that I’m sure you’ll enjoy:
Star your day right
Take it or leave it, but this one is simple: the way you start your day often has a lot to do with how you go about the rest of it.
If you roll over in bed, still tired, and fire up your phone to look at the latest news alerts, work emails, and social media clutter, you’re setting yourself up to depend upon these same things to move you along through the day.
If possible, think about adjusting your lifestyle. Maybe take a hot shower before you check any technology, or work in some exercise first thing. Start the day on your terms, with a clear head.
Eating healthy in the morning will make you feel amazing as well. Have some fruit, drink a glass of water, and maybe skip the coffee every now and then. Heck, I’m drinking some as I write this, so it’s alright in moderation. Supplements are also a good idea. Fish oil and multivitamins are ideal for gentlemen of any age.
You might be impressed with yourself when you start ignoring or coasting past negativity.
Breathing exercises are usually lumped in with vague wellness routines and spiritual mumbo-jumbo that often makes them seem less than serious.
Lucky for me, I found a write-up about them on a Canadian gaming platform that kept things far simpler. Working with the premise that gamers are a little too sedentary (begrudgingly, fair) the piece suggested a few different exercises that you can simply put down your keyboard or controller and do in place – “equal breathing” among them.
As the piece put it, this mind-blowingly simple exercise can help you reach a state of relaxation and thereby clear your head. It’s a good, chemical way to calm yourself down when the negativity is getting to you.
The simplest way to do breathing exercises is by sitting down and taking deep breaths. Inhale, count to 5, exhale, count to 5 again, and repeat. Since your body needs oxygen to literally do everything, breathing in lots of it helps you relax and feel better.
Honestly, exercise in general is crucial to feeling good every day. Try mixing in weights, cardio, yoga, swimming, or whatever you enjoy into your schedule. This will clear your mind and tone your physique.
Talk To Your Friends
Lastly – nothing can reset your mindset and take your focus off the day-to-day grind like chatting with a good friend. I realize that sounds like a whopping cliché, but think about it: isn’t it true for you?
We’re social creatures after all. Even though you may enjoy solitude, nothing beats hanging out with some quality friends. Kick back, have a beer, and enjoy each others company. Do something fun like hiking, playing golf, or going for a run together.
Meditation has been a proven way to enhance your mood, focus, and long term happiness.
I know, I know. Some people think it’s a bunch of spiritual woo-woo. Not anymore, though. Here’s an awesome infographic from Happify on “The Skeptics Guide to Meditation”:
So, now that you’re convinced, lets go over exactly how to meditate. It’s actually pretty simple but much harder when practiced. Here’s how I recommend meditating:
- Sit down with your legs crossed on a comfortable floor. Use a mat or pillow to get comfy.
- Place your hands on your lap, one over the other.
- Relax your body, slowly bringing awareness to every limb and loosening it.
- Begin taking deep breathes, focusing on your diaphragm raising and the sensation in your nose.
- Every time a thought or feeling arises, bring your awareness back to breathing.
That’s all! Simple, huh? You’ll be surprised how difficult it is once you start doing it. Over time, you’ll become much better and reap the rewards. Even after about 10 minutes, you’ll feel amazing and proud of yourself. Guaranteed.
You are what you eat
Did you know that upwards to 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut? If you don’t know what serotonin is, it’s essentially the feel good chemical in the brain, similar to dopamine.
So, what does it matter if it’s produced in the gut? Well, that means the quality of food you eat on a daily basis has a direct affect on your happiness. That old saying “you are what you eat” is much more true than many people realize.
You don’t have to be a health freak either to eat good and be healthy. You just have to be conscious of what you put into your body and make small changes. Here are some easy ways to clean up your diet and ultimately improve your happiness:
- Drink more water. It’s super simple and you have no excuse not to. Keep a refillable bottle with you at work, school, and where ever you go. Mix in some lemon or cucumber for added benefits.
- Get in your fruits and veggies. This is an obvious one but a lot of people don’t get the recommended daily amount. Try bringing fruit as a snack to work or keeping them around the house. Vegetables can be mixed into dishes with good seasoning so you won’t even know they’re there. A little bit is better than none!
- Dial back the sugar, starches, and unhealthy fats. You need to have fun some times but a majority of your diet should be clean. Pretty much anything you know that isn’t good like soda, junk food, and candy should be limited.
- Get more lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Chicken and fish are delicious while providing high levels of protein and other nutrients. Protein helps with weight loss and muscle gain. Good carbs like potatoes, beans, and pasta will give you better energy throughout the day without turning into fat.
- Try drinking green tea instead of pounding back so much coffee. You still get your caffeine fix but with a heap of health benefits. Green tea is anti-inflammatory, contains anti-oxidants, improves skin, and preserves brain health.