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Ten steps to happier living

There is a common misconception that if you’re successful or wealthy, you’ll be happy. However, Shawn Achor, who has spent over a decade living, researching and lecturing at Harvard University, published a book in 2010 which disproved this assumption. Read our article to learn how you can train your mind to be happier:

The Action for Happiness, identified 10 ways to feel happier living which together spells ‘GREAT DREAM’. Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. This means that happiness is a skill you can learn!

Find your happiness in all areas of life by following these ten steps:

1. Giving

What do you do for others? Giving to other people like friends, family or even a work colleague, can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. You could give presents or you could give someone a bit more energy and time. It doesn’t have to be anything grand; the little things can make the biggest difference.

2. Relating

How often do you connect with people in real life? Scrolling through social media or chatting to someone by text can provide us with a sense of community. However, taking a break from screens and building strong relationships with those that surround you in your daily life, can bring you an abundance of love, support and belonging.

3. Exercising

Do you take care of your physical health? The benefits of moving your body are endless, from an increase in endorphins (happy hormones) and vitamin D to helping with weight loss and strengthening muscles, and the list goes on! Your body does so much for you 24/7, so go show it some love by doing a home workout, going for a walk on your lunch break, dancing, or stretching out after a long day.

4. Awareness

When was the last time you focused on your breath?

Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment. Amidst the fast-paced stresses of the busy modern world, it’s all too easy to forget to live in the now. No matter where you currently are- at work or on the sofa- inhale deeply and as you exhale let everything go. This is easier said than done but by noticing the beauty in the mundane you will welcome more peace and clarity to your life.

5. Trying out

What new hobby have you always wanted to start? Learning and trying new things like a sport or a new work project or eating at that restaurant you’ve always driven past, promotes curiosity and can give you a burst of accomplishment, and energy and can boost your self-confidence. Expanding your comfort zone can be both nerve-wracking and exciting but the rewards are endless.

6. Direction

How do you stick to your goals? To set realistic goals, it is important to set them by imagining you’re feeling really unmotivated. This makes them more achievable and allows you to build upon them quickly. For example, if you want to start running, say ‘I will run once a week and go for one lunch break walk’. This will look different for everyone so focus on your progress and watch your satisfaction levels rise.

7. Resilience

How do you deal with difficult times? Life throws stress, loss, failure, trauma and many more negative moments at us.

In these moments, practicing gratitude for the things you have, confiding in others and giving yourself time to process things and remembering you’re never alone, is so important. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.

8. Emotions

Your emotions can play in a key part in how you react to situations. The following can be improved when you’re in control of your emotions: decision-making, healthy relationships, socialising and knowing when to take more time for yourself.

  • There are many useful ways you can manage your emotions whilst not bottling them up:
  • Identify and accept your emotions – your feelings are valid no matter what, but sometimes labelling how you’re feeling and accepting this can prevent a larger reaction
  • Keep a mood journal – this can help to identify what triggers certain emotional reactions in you
  • Give yourself time and space to process them – for example, if you feel you’re getting stressed, taking a quick break, and heading out for a walk might help

9. Acceptance

Do you accept yourself as you are right now? Accepting yourself, all flaws, emotions and insecurities included, will not only boost your self-confidence but will help you to accept others as they are too. This won’t happen overnight so take your time and be kind to yourself.

10. Meaning

Are you a part of something bigger? Having purpose and meaning in your life can make you feel more in control. Volunteering, doing charity-work or being a part of a staff team can all create a sense of belonging.

Help for your mental health at Benenden Hospital

If you've been affected by anything mentioned in this article, or would like to discuss your mental health, our fast access GP services can help. Book your appointment online today or contact our Private Patient team via Livechat or on 01580 363158.

Published on 14 November 2022