If you want to become a happier person, the following science-backed methods will help you a lot.
While the world may or may not be in worse trouble than it’s been before, you can still feel good in life. You can do little things like exercising, eating well, meditation, writing, getting enough sleep, and self-affirmation.
While these simple practices may not transform life on planet Earth, they can help you become a happier person, feel more at home here and begin to appreciate and enjoy your life more.
Let’s take a moment to explore each of these options.
1. Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is restorative, and if you don’t get enough, your body does not have enough time to heal and catch up with its metabolic housework. While it may seem to be productive to work more and sleep less, this is not a sustainable way to live. Don’t try to get by on 6 hours if you need 8 or 9 hours to get a good night’s rest.
2. Eating well
While there is no shortage of delicious food, this is not exactly what is meant by the phrase, “eating well.” Tasty food— which is often high in salt, sugar, and fats — also throws your metabolism out of balance. These high-caloric, low-nutrient foods don’t give your body the right proportion of macro- and micro-nutrients. As a result, you feel tired after a meal, not replenished and refueled.
Eating well, then, refers to eating foods closer to nature — fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, organic meats, etc. Your body knows what to do with these foods, but it has no idea how to process a common sweetener like high fructose corn syrup.
Many people find meditation difficult. It’s not because meditation itself is difficult – after all, it’s the art of doing nothing more than breathing, visualizing or repeating a mantra while sitting perfectly still – but because they are trying too hard to do it right.
In addition, there are many religions that use meditation, which creates quite a bit of confusion about the practice itself. If you’re not a religious person, you feel you’re being hoodwinked into adopting erroneous belief systems.
If you belong to an orthodox religion, you wonder if you’re betraying your faith. And if you do happen to belong to a religion that believes in meditation, then you’re always dismayed at not clearing your mind of thoughts and feeling a sense of oneness with all sentient beings.
Here are 4 tips to put your mind at ease (no pun intended):
- Forget about doing it right. Meditation is not about performance.
- Choose the type of meditation you find easy to do.
- Realize that meditation does not belong to any religion but is merely a practice that many Eastern religions have found helpful in promoting spiritual insights. You can even meditate if you’re an atheist to calm your mind and provoke the relaxation response.
- Think of the mind like a bucket and thoughts and feelings as sand swirling in the bucket. By meditating, you allow the sand to settle to the bottom of the bucket and your mind now becomes still and peaceful.
Writing can be a way of sorting through your ideas to get clarity. It’s useful even if you don’t plan to be a published writer. You can write in your journal about your day or as a way to figure things out.
You can also write what’s called Morning Pages. This idea, introduced by Julia Cameron in The Artists Way helps free up mental and emotional clutter. Cameron explains:
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.”
Exercise has a direct effect on your mood. By joining a fitness class, you not only get to hang out with like-minded people and engage in a fun activity, but you’ll also build muscle, burn fat, improve flexibility, and stimulate feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
Our beliefs are like the software that runs our minds. In order to clear erroneous beliefs, we can use another piece of software called self-affirmations.
Suppose, for example, you were disinterested in class when you were little and because teachers, parents, and fellow students labeled you as stupid. This is a damaging belief because it limits your ability to learn new ideas. By using an affirmation like, “I quickly solve difficult problems and have a great memory,” you slowly begin to erase the erroneous beliefs that others fostered upon you.
You may not realize it, but you have many opportunities each day to become a happier person. Yes, if you are to believe the politicians and the press, the world has never been in a worse condition. That’s probably what people thought in ancient Athens, too, when the Spartans were delivering ominous threats, or in Rome when the Visigoths were marching toward the capital.
By trying out these 6 ideas, you can stop worrying about the state of the world, become a happier person, and, finally, start experiencing greater self-fulfillment. People have been frustrated since the beginning of recorded history, but you can choose to set yourself free from intrusive thoughts.