So what are some small, easy steps that can be implemented every day that will lead to a happier life?
Acknowledge the negative emotion.
It has been shown that when you put words to your feelings the emotion itself diminishes in strength. Doing this flips the brain from the fight or flight mode to the rational, problem-solving side. It is okay to feel stressed. Be kind and nonjudgmental toward yourself. Verbally process what’s going on inside and journal about it. Suppressing the emotion, or telling yourself that if you were more capable you would not be stressed, will only give it more reign.
3 Gratitudes a day keeps the gloom away.
Before getting out of bed make it a habit to think of three things you are thankful for in the moment. Be genuine with this. Really take the time to feel appreciation for the three things. By focusing on the good in the morning (before looking at the news or social media) you are telling your body “first things first.” You are setting a focus for yourself that impacts the rest of your day.
Target stress with RAK.
Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) end up giving back to the giver just as much as to the recipient. Thinking of others and showing care actually releases oxytocin in the brain. It increases your happiness. Not only can it change your internal environment but it can have a dramatic impact on the world around you. These little gestures give you a feeling of connectedness. Don’t think that anything is too small. Reach out to a friend with a heartfelt text, buy the person behind you a drink at Starbucks, smile to a passerby.
Know your why.
Remember the bigger reason for the items on your to-do list. Recognize the overarching purpose for getting them accomplished. Ignite a sense of meaning by thinking about how each to-do helps someone else or helps you fulfill your purpose. Keeping your vision before will increase your motivation and help it feel less like duty and more like a step towards your goal. So take a few minutes when making your list to think of each action’s impact on the grand scheme life.
Prioritize 10 minutes of your day for self-care.
The afternoon could be the perfect time to reset yourself, when you are feeling the after-lunch food coma. Step away from your desk, put down your phone, or if work is harder to escape go to the bathroom for a moment of solitude. Spend this time doing whatever it is that will help you recenter yourself. Focus on your breath, grab a cup of tea, enjoy a short walk, close your eyes, listen to a song. Whatever refreshes you and helps you refocus. We all know that breaks are helpful for productivity but how often do we have the discipline to care for our well-being and take them?
Don’t be afraid to start small. Maybe begin with just one of these practices. Make it a habit and notice how many more times a day you find yourself smiling and at ease.