How do we cultivate our happiness? Does happiness can just happen, or can we make it so? As we age, we realize that happiness is more of a choice than a random occurrence. Try incorporating some of these happiness practices into your life every day and see what results they accomplish in your life.

Give Thanks

Research by Michael McCullough, Robert Emmons, Lyubomirsky, and others has revealed the power of simply counting our blessings on a regular basis.

Their studies show that people who keep “gratitude journals” feel more optimism and greater satisfaction with their lives. Additionally, writing a “gratitude letter” to someone you’ve never properly thanked brings a major boost of happiness.

Practice Kindness

Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues found that people report greater happiness when they spend money on others than when they spend it on themselves, even though they initially think the opposite would be true.

Similarly, neuroscience research shows that when we do nice things for others, our brains light up in areas associated with pleasure and reward. So, it seems like a good idea to show kindness to anyone – from family, to friend, to neighbor.

Give Up Grudges

Groundbreaking studies by Everett Worthington, Michael McCullough, and their colleagues exposed a truth known for centuries: when we forgive those who have wronged us, we feel better about ourselves, experience more positive emotions, and feel closer to others.

Get Physical

Exercise isn’t just good for our bodies; it’s good for our minds. Studies show that regular physical activity increases happiness and self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress, and can even lift symptoms of depression.

“Exercise may very well be the most effective instant happiness booster of all activities,” writes Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness.

Pay Attention

Studies show that people who practice mindfulness – the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and external circumstances – not only have stronger immune systems but are more likely to be happy and enjoy greater life with greater satisfaction, and they are less likely to be hostile or anxious.

Notice the world around you, and tune into your self. Find enjoyment in it. Why not reap the benefits so you can then give back?

Don’t Focus on Material Wealth

After our basic needs are met, research suggests that more money doesn’t bring us more happiness. In fact, a study by Kahneman found that Americans’ happiness rose with their income only until they’d made roughly $75,000; after that, their happiness plateaued.

Many eastern cultures don’t associate money with happiness at all. There’s probably a lot of wisdom in that kind of mindset.

Be Curious

Pema Chodron, the renowned Buddhist nun, says the key to happiness is curiosity. When you look at your world with wonder and exploration, you will find joy in the smallest and biggest observations. Be curious and give the world a happy face.

Live in the Present

Now is the only moment you have. We spend most of our time focusing on the past or the future or some distraction. Make it a habit to keep your attention on what is here and now. Look for the fullness in every moment.

Accept what comes to you so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you to this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is.

17 Seconds

A thought becomes yours when you have it in your consciousness for 17 seconds. If a negative thought comes into your mind, release it before 17 seconds, and it will not have an impact. Hold the thought that you are perfect just as you are, right now for 17 seconds.

Gifting Yourself

Participating in what brings you inner joy is the most vital path to growing younger gracefully. Make sure that you do something that makes you happy every day. Do it just for yourself and keep it your secret.

Gratitude Journal

Begin a journal and write down one or more people, places, or things you are grateful for. Do this as often as you choose, whether it’s twice a day or twice a month.

Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

Think of something joyful – and joyful energy will flow. Where your attention rests dictates where your happiness lands. Focus your attention on things that bring you happiness. When your attention and energy begin to dwell on negative things, gently redirect them to keep your energy focused on joy.

Service

Perform one act of kindness to someone, whether they know about it or not! When it is a hidden gem, it is all the more impactful on your own spirit.

Happiness is a conscious practice. One last tip, as Annie sang: “You are never fully dressed unless you are wearing a smile!”

How often do you look at the world with joy? How often do you smile in a day? What are you grateful for today? What do you think are 5 things you can do differently to bring happiness to your life? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversation!

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