Are there simple, easier ways to being happy? We asked Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project who spent a year trying to do just that.
Gretchen, 53, spent a year trying to find happiness, then wrote about her learnings in a best-selling book. “One of the keys to a happiness project is figuring out what is true for you,” she says. You can build a happy life on the foundation of your own nature. Ask yourself, “What do I actually look forward to doing?” “What do I find myself doing when I have some free time, even if I think I should be doing something else?” Don’t judge yourself. Whether you enjoy trashy television, crossword puzzles or dancing around the house, push yourself towards new experiences that may appeal to you.
Gretchen’s simple steps to being happier:
1. Boost your energy
Stand up and pace while you’re talking on the phone, or even better, take a brisk 10-minute walk outside. Your metabolism speeds up, and the activity and sunlight are good for focus, mood and memory.
2. Reach out to new friends
Make a lunch date, or send an e-mail to a friend you haven’t seen in ages. Close bonds with people are a key to happiness and socialising boosts the moods of introverts as well as extroverts.
3. Rid yourself of a nagging task
Start the day by tackling the hardest tasks first. Answer a difficult e-mail, do an errand you’ve been putting off or call to make that dentist appointment.
4. Create a calmer space
Clear mental and physical space by ditching junk, cleaning a cupboard or sending out quick e-mail responses. Never postpone any task that can be completed in less than a minute.
5. Lay groundwork for future fun
Order a book you’ve been wanting to read, (not something you think you should read), or plan an excursion. Fun on a regular basis is a pillar of happiness, and anticipation is an important part.
6. Do a good deed
Set up a blind date, offer someone some useful information or praise their efforts. We often believe that we act because of the way we feel. But, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act.
7. Act happy
Put a smile on your face! Research shows that even a fake smile has a positive influence. If you’re smiling, others will perceive you as being friendlier and more approachable.
8. Perform an action that reflects your values
Do you think that organ donation is a good idea? Worried about climate change?Make a start and do something about it. Living up to your values will help you “feel right”.