No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your past has been, you probably want to be happy.
I’m talking about the kind of happiness that makes you want to dance your feet off, love your heart out, and laugh your head off. The pursuit of happiness is a personal mission happening at the heart of nearly every individual. The problem is, some people don’t know exactly how to achieve it, or get “stuck” in thought patterns that dissuade them.
While everyone has different paths of reaching happiness, research suggests that practicing these 5 simple steps can increase overall feelings of happiness and widen that grin.
1. Don’t assign happiness to deadlines
In psychology there exists a concept called “the arrival fallacy,” the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you will be happy. But arriving at some place or reaching some goal rarely makes you feel as happy as you anticipated, and often reveals another, more challenging goal to work towards again. Instead of pursuing a deadline to be happy, choose to happily pursue. You will no longer feel as if you’re swimming upstream, but instead you’ll enjoy the ride as you carelessly float freely.
2. Practice gratitude
Some philosophers have gone so far to say that it is impossible to be both grateful and unhappy at the same time. Try making a daily gratitude list. It can be as little as 5 things that you are grateful for, such as a warm cup of tea, or a simple smile from a stranger. After practicing this mental exercise daily, your mind will automatically begin to search for the things in your life that render a smile.
3. Be a friend to yourself
Think about the self-talk that goes on in your head. Would you be friends with that person? Imagine yourself as a small child that needs every bit of nurturing, support and love possible. Celebrate and reward your accomplishments, instead of focusing your energy on where you fall short. You are in every way deserving of this kind of affection towards yourself and will be astonished by the positive feelings this creates over time.
4. Be kind
To quote the Dalai Lama, “Be kind whenever possible…it is always possible.” We are social beings with a desire to connect and create sustained relationships. By putting effort into daily kindness, we take healthful steps towards manifesting these relationships. The act of giving can often be even more rewarding than receiving. Make it a mission to give someone a smile, and take note of how it feels to be apart of that gift.
5. Embrace quiet time and meditation
MRI studies from the University of Wisconsin have shown that those with high reports of being happy have a greater amount of activity in the front portion of their brain called “the frontal lobe.” One well known benefit of meditation is the ability to activate the frontal lobe and increase overall blood flow to that area. By embracing quiet time and practicing small doses of meditation daily, your brain can habitually operate in this “happy place.”
Originally Published: http://www.finerminds.com/happiness/5-ways-to-live-happily-freely-and-lovingly/