The secret to happiness is not as mysterious as it may seem. Here are four habits to incorporate into your life to help you maintain an emotionally healthy outlook.
Make frequent social connections. As social beings, our brains are hardwired with a desire to interact with other people and build relationships. Do what comes naturally and pick up the phone for a nice long chat with your sister or mom, or meet up with the girls for Sunday brunch—and do it often! Studies have shown that people who socialize at least once a week are likely to live longer, keep their brains sharp, and are at a lower risk of getting a heart attack.
Start a gratitude journal. It’s natural to get into a funk every now and then about an aspect of your life that may not be going quite the way you had imagined it. However, it’s important to see what is good about your life, too. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a beneficial way to help you look at things in a more positive light. Purchase a blank notebook where you can jot down things that put a smile on your face. It can be as simple as watching the leaves on the tree change colour on your walk home from work, or getting the last chocolate chip muffin at the coffee shop. By recording all the things you have to be thankful for, your optimism will surely grow.
Let go of grudges. Holding a grudge often leads to harbouring negative emotions, such as anger and bitterness, which can increase your level of stress and lead to higher blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Try practicing forgiveness for the sake of your health. It’s certainly not an easy task, but when you forgive, you are making a conscious effort to replace your negative feelings with positive ones such as goodwill and compassion. Forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily have to involve confronting the person either. The primary intent is for you to be at peace with the situation and to stop thinking about it in a resentful manner so that you can move forward.
Perform random acts of kindness. Each day, look around you to see what type of good deed you can perform. These gestures need not be large and grandiose. For example, buying a cup of a coffee for a colleague or offering up your seat on the bus are acts of kindness that will certainly be appreciated by the recipient. By doing something nice for someone else, you’ll also contribute to your own happiness since the experience of helping to make another person’s day a little brighter is a true feel-good booster.