I think …
1. Live In The Moment
Practicing “mindfulness” or meditation is scientifically proven to increase our happiness not only due to its affect on the human brain but because when we are more “present” we happen to be better people to those around us. We listen more intently and are thus more likely to be better significant others, friends, kids, adults etc.
2. Invest in “Experiences” Rather than “Stuff”
The concept of “hedonic adaptation” states that brains are wired to adapt extremely quickly to things to preserve energy (this is why people tend to form habits rather quickly - whether they are bad or good). This also means we typically adapt to “new” things that we buy such as a new car or a new house. A Ferrari is only going to be a Ferrarifor a few weeks before its novelty dies down, leaving us with “just another car” that needs maintenance. Same is true for couples who “upgrade” to a bigger house due to a promotion at work and realize after a few months that they adapt to the new place and want to already move to a bigger place. Experiences, however, thwart off hedonic adaptation due to its short duration and novelty and can bring us much more happiness in terms of providing us with memories that we can cherish for a long time to come which brings me to my next point- Savoring experiences.
3. Savor Experiences By Sharing
Savoring experiences by sharing it with someone else or remembering it down the line can make us much more happy. What are some positive experiences that you’ve had on your last vacation? How was it “fun” or how did it make you feel? I had probably the best experience in my life when I visited a local observatory that was open to the public (an observatory allows people to look at celestial bodies in space through a giant telescope). Being a cosmologist at heart, that evening was the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life. I can remember all the details and what it felt like to look down from the hill into the city lights, it was pitch black and the sky above looked amazing. All the people were super friendly and welcoming. Something about that night just “clicked” and I felt super lucky to be alive to experience it. I remember saying “this is so beautiful, almost unreal” and “what an amazing experience”. This is the power of SAVIORING experiences. Those beautiful memories will stay with us forever and we can remember them to relive that moment of bliss we’ve had In the past and boost our happiness in the process.
4. Be Grateful
I usually take half a day during thanksgiving season to write down all the things I am thankful for. This exercise usually keeps me going for the entire year and reminds me to be humble. Remember that most people who have ever lived are now dead (some 160 Billion people) vs the people that are alive today (some 7 Billion people) so just being alive is already something to be grateful for. There are many other things to be grateful for. Did you graduate high school or college? Do you have a job that pays decently? Do you have a significant other? Do you have a car? Do you have a place to call your own? Are you generally safe and feel safe? Do you live in a country where there is no war? I could list a million things but you get the picture. There are so many things to be grateful for that we typically take for granted. Being grateful allows us to be humble and centered which is correlated with more happiness in ones life.
5. Avoid Social Comparisons
Comparing yourself to others is like a poison that will rob you of your happiness. This is especially difficult for the majority of females as being social and comparing yourself to others is inscribed in the genes (this helped our species survive in ancient times). This doesn’t just apply to your immediate friend circle but also the types of media you consume. Are you watching reality shows like the “kardashians” who flaunt their riches and present a fake account of their lives on tv? Do you compare yourself to the Models on Instagram? Do you compare yourself to people at work? Do you consume fashion magazines? All of these things can lead you to inadvertently compare yourself to others which will make you unhappy. My advice is to cut all of those things out of your life. I only use social media to talk to family occasionally and have cut out watching TV years ago and I feel much, much happier as a result. Try it out, it doesn’t hurt to try some new things in your life if you feel unhappy.
6. Practice Detachment
A free mind is a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing. Most people spend much of their time looking for reasons to be offended. An open mind is never offended because it is free of any attachments. It is never the self that is offended but always the illusion that the self has of itself that is affected by insult! If you can really understand this, deeply grasp it’s truth, live it each day, then pain will be no more. Next time you ‘feel’ offended look closely within yourself at yourself and ask yourself what was offended? If you remain aware you will see that it was only an image of yourself which you had become attached to, and that image did not resonate with the image contained in the insult. If you weren’t attached, if you didn’t identify with the wrong image of yourself then there would be no offense taken. You would then remain free and therefore happy.
7. Be a Social Butterfly
We are social creatures and thrive much better together in collaboration rather than alone or in competition against each other. Remember to develop and maintain your friendships and work towards a common good for all people in your life.
8. Get A Lot of Sleep
Sleep is the most underrated activity of our lives yet we spend nearly 1/3 of our lives sleeping! There is a reason why this is. Sleep is restorative to our bodies and brains and helps us be more centered and have lots of energy. Nobody wants to be around someone who is a half-zombie so make sure you get plenty of rest.
9. Practice Kindness
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Doing a lot of acts of random kindness can go along way in making you feel more happy and content. It may also provide your life with some meaning and structure.
10. Give Back
Whether its is through charitable giving or doing volunteering activities. Studies after studies have shown that people who volunteer tend to be happier and more optimistic about the future. Working on volunteering projects also helps with forming friendships and bonds with other people
Let me know your views …