Achieving Happiness Even During Tough Times

autumn_leavesFor some it’s already been a long winter and during these times, many people have to work harder at happiness. Here are nine practical and concise suggestions, as compiled by the Daily Express newspaper.

1- Help others: Humans are hard-wired for altruism, which is why it makes us happy. Our ancestors had to help each other to stay alive, and being kind strengthens our relationships and makes us feel good too.
Try it: Perform an act of kindness every day such as serving a loved one breakfast in bed, letting a stranger have your parking space or calling a sick friend.

2- Reach out: Those with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
Try it: Ask a friend, relative or colleague about the best part of their day and listen intently to their answer.

3- Take a walk: It instantly improves mood and can help combat depression. People who exercise regularly in a green space are less likely to suffer poor mental health compared with those who don’t.
Try it: Go outside for a 10-minute walk in the fresh air every day. If you can find somewhere green and leafy, even better.

4- Be Mindful: Learning to be more mindful does wonders for wellbeing by stopping people dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. “Start by paying attention to your breath as it flows in and out of your body. This allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise and little by little stop struggling with them,” says Mark Williams. “You will realise that thoughts and feelings are transient and you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.”
Try it: Next time you go outside look up at the sky and take a minute to study the clouds or the stars. Take time to feel the warmth of the sunshine or the chill of the wind.

5- Keep learning. Exposing ourselves to new ideas helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and boosts our self-confidence. The higher people’s level of general education, the more satisfied they are with their daily life. And as we get older using our brains seems to be more important than ever. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, people who are involved in learning may delay the onset of symptoms of the disease.
Try it: Attempt a new recipe, start a book you wouldn’t normally read or sign up to an evening class.

6- Set new goals: Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us that are challenging but achievable.
Try it: Set yourself a couple of small goals to achieve before moving on to anything bigger.

7- Think positive: Although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs it helps to focus on the good aspects of a situation. Examine how you tend to look at the world and question whether that is realistic. Wherever possible, try to limit negative comparisons with others as these will only make you feel bad. Instead be grateful for what you have.
Try it: List three things that have gone well every day.

8- Accept yourself: Dwelling on our flaws and being unrealistic about others’ success makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts-and-all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life and wellbeing.
Try it: Identify your top five strengths and ask yourself how and when you are using each one. Next, identify ways you can use them more.

9- Join in: If you spend lots of time stuck at home alone you will not get the opportunity to forge new relationships, which are central to our happiness.
Try it: Set aside an hour a week to do something community spirited such as reading at a school, helping with a community project or picking up litter.

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