Increase Your HQ
Even if you consider yourself pretty happy--we could all be a little happier, right? Or maybe you're just going through a sad slump? It might be time to check your HQ—your happiness quotient.
You’ll be glad to hear that although recent scientific research says our family history, make-up, and living conditions make up most of our HQ, the other factors that play a key role in our general wellbeing come from the choices we make—and the activities we choose. Here’s a pretty wide-ranging list of things you can do to up your HQ:
Make Real Connections
Relationships are important, they help give our lives meaning and make us realise we have support and love around us. They also help us create a sense of self-worth. Don’t think the less-meaningful relationships in our lives, such as the ones with neighbours, school teachers, or our favourite deli’s cashier are less important. Building these types of relationships also helps to bring us a sense of community belonging.
Caring (and We Mean Really Caring) for Others
Caring about other people comes naturally to most of us, but you’ll be surprised at how essential it is to our own happiness too. Experts suggest caring for others outside our circle of family and friends not only builds a stronger community but makes us happier too. Cook a meal for someone struggling at work, buy a blanket for the homeless person who sleeps on the park. Imagine if everyone did something helpful for someone every day. What a world it would be.
It’s a firmly-held belief that exercise can lift us out of feeling blue. So the best thing to do is to find an activity we enjoy the most and make sure to do it regularly. Now this doesn’t mean running a marathon (although that’s good too) but it can be anything from spending time walking outdoors to social tennis groups or yoga. Research shows that being active not only improves overall health, but lifts our moods too, thus helping with our overall happiness.
Take It All In
Taking time to pause in the midst of our busy lives and just be aware of the good things around us is an important skill to learn, and is significant for our wellbeing. Try set some time aside for taking this much needed time out. Take a couple of deep breaths, appreciate the positive things in life, the relationships we have and put those worries aside. It might be a good idea to add this mindfulness to a morning routine and do it first thing.
Try to keep your brain active by learning new things all the time. Remember you’re never too old or too busy to keep learning new things. Now, we don’t necessarily mean opening up your high school geography text book, but rather learn any skill that interests you—cook a new meal, learn to play the piano, take up horse-riding, finish that dog-eared copy of War and Peace. Accomplishing these mini-milestones help fill us with a sense of achievement and encourage us to get on to the next one.
Learn to Bounce Back
How do we cope with the tough times—stress, trauma, failure? Sadly, these things are part of life but it’s how we deal with them that is integral to our wellbeing. The good news is that resilience can be learned. We must find the best way to cope with our problems, so we are able to deal with them as and when they crop up. Also, learning from past mistakes can help too. Ask yourself how you could have handled something better, learn from it and let it help you the next time. Also try to not sweat the small stuff. Will this still be important in five years? Then don’t spend more than five minutes letting it bother you.
Be a Part of Something Bigger
Finding meaning and purpose in our lives is not such an easy thing to do. If you haven’t been lucky enough to find this in your career, don’t be discouraged because there are lots of other ways to find it. Many people find meaning through things like spirituality, nature or supporting a greater cause. Donate blood, plant trees, join a charity fundraiser… Not only are these actions for the greater good, they are also thought to help us relieve stress and anxiety in our own lives.
Ditch ready-made meals and going out for dinner so often, rather spend time trying new ingredients and making new recipes. Not only will this save you money, contribute towards healthier meals and really knowing what goes into your meals, but it will give a sense of accomplishment and unleash a little creativity too. And if you’re making it for a group of your favourite people, even better.
Water makes up two-thirds of the body and performs a long list of healthy functions such as aiding digestion, carrying nutrients, regulating temperature and detoxifying the body. Making sure your body stays hydrated can have a profound influence on our vitality and energy levels, including mental alertness. Experts suggest drinking between two and three litres per day but the best way to tell if you’re getting enough water? Your (ahem) wiz should be as pale as possible.
Take a Positive Approach
Positive emotions (yep, you know the ones like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration and pride) don’t just feel good when we experience them but they also help us perform better, broaden our perception and improve our physical health. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation. So when your brand new car breaks down, focus on the fact that you earn enough money to own a car, and how those cup holders have changed your life.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough shut eye ensures we have enough mental and physical energy for each day. Getting between 7 and 9 hours of snooze time a night is also linked to many health benefits but the big one for us is reduced risk of chronic disease. One important hot tip: Make sure to shut down your screens about an hour before bedtime and head off to bed a little earlier than normal. Set an alarm, yes on your technologically advanced smart phone, to remind you.
Stop chasing material happiness and the pursuit of having the newest and best of all things—clothes, house, car, the latest technological gadget, etc. This aspirational contest is one of the biggest problems with our modern day lifestyles. It leaves us feeling inadequate and constantly wanting more and more. We should rather focus on what we do have—health, family, loved ones—and be thankful. This is what truly matters.
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