15 Ways To Hack Into Your Happiness
From the time we are young, the world tells us that the ultimate goal is to be happy, as if happiness is a one way destination and once we have arrived, we get to set up shop and stay forever. True happiness is not designed to be permanent. Happiness ebbs and flows with the currents of life. Happiness is the choice to sift out the joy, the good, the love and hold on to it, while letting all the rest fall away. I’ve become skilled at choosing the happy.
Here are a few happiness hacks that I’ve discovered along the way.
Gratitude is the ultimate happiness hack. When you focus on gratitude, the things you have to be grateful for expand. The life you were living in black and white is suddenly bursting with color, just like when Dorthy drops down into The Land of Oz.
Write down daily gratitude, throw it around like glitter to those around you, seek it in some small way every single day. Gratitude is a happiness magnet.
2. Moving Your Body
You might argue that true happiness can be found curled up on the couch binge watching your favorite guilty pleasure and eating an entire bag of chips before the next commercial break. I wouldn’t disagree. However, if you want to actively hack happiness, movement is so important. Exercise is scientifically proven to hack those brain chemicals that are responsible for mood and motivation. If the idea of running on a treadmill makes you want to cry, then don’t run on a treadmill. Find another way to move your body that you actually enjoy. Dance, hike, take an exercise class, add in weight training. Whatever form of movement makes you feel stronger, less stressed, and more motivated-find it and do it most days. Shoot for at least 30 minutes and watch your happiness grow.
3. Finding your people and spending time with them
The people that you surround yourself with can either drain you or can give you life.. The people that are good for you are the ones that encourage you, make you laugh, and make you feel lighter when you leave them. Prioritize those connections and be intentional about nurturing them.
If you haven’t found your people yet, check out How To Find Your People so that you will recognize them when they do come along
4. Serving others
When you put the focus on the needs of others, a couple of things happen. First, you get out of your own self. We are human and most of us are guilty of living life mostly consumed in our own worlds-thinking about ourselves the majority of the time. When we put the focus on others and their needs, perspective shifts. We realize that life is bigger than our internal world. Second, when we find ways to serve others, we find purpose. We are contributing, rather than just consuming. A sure way to hack happiness is to share it with others.
5. Be where your feet are
This one is a challenge for me. I have a hard time turning off my brain. If I sit still for too long, I start to get antsy and the guilt creeps in. I start thinking of all of the productive things I should be doing. I’m constantly multitasking. I’m often task oriented, rather than connection oriented.
This is a quick road to burn out and overwhelm. It leads to depletion and having nothing left over at the end of the day. One way to defeat this cycle and hack into happiness is to “be where your feet are.” Be present in the moment that you’re in, rather than always being in the next moment. When you’re having conversations, stop whatever else you are doing and be IN that conversation. Listen to the person that’s talking. Give them the gift of feeling seen and heard. Put away distractions while you’re eating and actually savor your meal. Occasionally, just sit in the quiet and be still for a few minutes.
6. Less time on social media
I’m a fan of social media. It’s highly entertaining, it’s a great way to connect with others and I learn a lot of new things from my social media community. It also comes with many happiness pitfalls. It can lead to the trap of comparison-you’re looking at someone else’s highlight reel-the best moments they curate for others to see and comparing your ugliest moments and deepest insecurities. You get to see the unfiltered ugliest sides of people that say horrible things for shock value or because they are simply more comfortable to say them behind a computer screen. It’s hard to feel happy knowing that people can be so awful. You begin to believe that is the norm. That negativity seeps out from social media into your world. You are inundated with horrifying news stories and true crime and suddenly your view of the world shifts to a more negative one.
The best thing you can do when you start to feel overwhelmed with the negativity and information you’re consuming is to take away its power-your attention and energy. Turn it off. Put it away. Discover the beauty of airplane mode. Be mindful of the input you are taking in. Take a social media break or limit it to one five to ten minute check in per day. Take advantage of the downtime feature on your iphone. Be present in your physical world and with the people in it. Notice the good in the people you know and interact with in your day to day life.
7. More time creating
We are all guilty of spending too much time consuming and not enough time creating. Think about what you do every day. What percentage of your time is spent creating? Making something or using and sharing your creative gifts? Writing, cooking, painting, singing…whatever it is that lights you up from the inside. How much time are you devoting to the beauty of creating? I believe that your happiness level is directly related to the time you spend creating versus consuming. Do the things that light you up from the inside.
Have you ever noticed that when you go somewhere new you feel more alive? You notice and appreciate the details, you get to slow down and be more present, your brain lights up with new sensations-new faces, new views, new smells. You may even feel more like yourself when you travel than when you are home. Travel checks off a lot of happiness hacking boxes. When we travel, we usually want to make the most of our experience. We become more present and we notice and appreciate our surroundings more. We are more proactive with how we spend our time. We break out of the monotony of our daily lives and live life the way we should be living it all the time.
9. Getting out of your comfort zone
Happiness doesn’t come from the mundane daily grind. In fact, that is where happiness goes to die. Most of us are attached to our comfort zones. We like predictability and when we stay within the bounds of what we know and do well, we feel like we have more control. The thing is, if we always stay in the realm of what is comfortable and familiar, we can’t really grow. Happiness requires pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. For instance, writing makes me happy. It’s the thing I have always gone back to when I’m feeling unsteady or lost. Sharing what I write is not comfortable for me. But I do it. Many times something I’ve written resonates with someone in some way and when they share that with me, it makes me happy. It helps me reinforce that I’m living in alignment. Do the things that scare you a little.
10. Enjoying spending time with yourself
You are the only person that you live with from the minute you’re born until the day you die. You can’t get away from you. If you want to be happy, you’d better learn to like spending time with yourself. I actually have a great time with just me. If I’m driving alone, I blast my favorite music and sing loudly (and terribly) at the top of my lungs. But who is going to judge me? Well, me. I judge me, but you would too. When I’m cleaning, sometimes I dance to old school rap and then laugh at myself when I realize how ridiculous I must look. I value my alone time. It’s how I recenter. If you don’t like yourself or if you take yourself too seriously, you’re in for a long, unhappy life.
11. Getting outside
Any time I’m having a bad day, I find that getting outside is always a pick me up. Sit in the sun, go for a walk, lie in a hammock-the sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for your soul and happiness.
12. Have something to look forward to
This hack is an important one and one that I tap into during the long months when the “winter blues” start to set in. I try to plan something fun to look forward to during that time. It could be a weekend getaway, a girls’ night, tickets to a show. Something I can plan weeks in advance and count down to. You can do this on a big or small scale. Plan coffee with a friend later in the week, count down to a new book release or the premier of the next season of your favorite show.
13. Reframing negative thinking
Even when you are mostly happy, negativity can always creep in. I have found a trick for those negative thoughts. When I find myself complaining to myself, I try to reframe my thoughts with a positive spin. For example, “Ugh. There’s so much dirt in my car” to “I’m so thankful that my kids are healthy and get to play baseball, the sport they love” or “I have so much cleaning to do” to “We are so lucky to have a lived-in home where we are safe and comfortable”. You get the idea. It takes some practice, but it’s a simple way to add a little extra happy when you’re feeling grumpy.
14. Learning Something New
The happiest people I know are always willing to learn and grow. They aren’t content with the status quo and are always challenging themselves to take on new skills and learn from others because they know they don’t know it all. When we learn new things, our world expands a little more and we open ourselves up to new opportunities and connections.
I read somewhere once that adults laugh an average of 17 times per day while kids laugh up to 300 times per day. No wonder kids are so much more joyful. Life is meant to be joyful and when you’re an adult you find out real quick that if you don’t laugh at the absurdity of adulthood, you’ll start crying and you may not ever be able to stop. So laugh. A lot. Watch your favorite funny movie, go to a comedy show, spend time with kids or animals, be around the people that crack you up, and laugh at yourself.
Happiness is a state of being, not a goal to be attained. Some days it’s easier to hack into happiness than others and that’s ok. Life really is so much better when you choose to be happy. Time is going to pass by anyway and life is full of lots of hard things, so you’d might as well use these happiness hacks to make it a little more fun along the way.