To me happiness is feeling that sense of quiet peace within and having the knowledge that I’m making time for the things that really matter.
Here are five simple steps (all backed up by scientific research) to boost your mood right now:
1. Spend more quality time with the people you love
Our close relationships are one of the most important factors in our emotional wellbeing. When you feel flat often you’re inclined to withdraw socially which isn’t always best thing for you. Even if it takes some effort, it’s worth reconnecting with people who care about you. And the key here is spending quality time – this is not about being with your partner and being only half present. Put your mobile away and turn off any other distractions (television, computer etc). Really connecting is the key.
2. Exercise at least three times each week for thirty minutes
Ideally this needs to have an aerobic element to it so that your heart rate increases. Research has shown that just thirty minutes, three times a week can be as beneficial as taking a low dose anti-depressant.
3. Cultivate the habit of gratitude
Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed and at the end of each day write down at least three things you’re grateful for or three things that went well during the day. They can be the smallest of things…the habit is simply to connect with the things that make your life more fulfilling.
4. Accept painful emotions
As Tal Ben-Shahar says, the only people who don’t feel painful emotions are psychopaths and the dead. Life is never going to be without suffering – what makes it more difficult is the way we respond to that suffering. When we can accept difficult emotions as part of the journey.
5. Simplify your life
Most of our lives are too busy and overly complex. We need computer free days, time away from Blackberries and iPhones and shopping, processed foods, traffic, noise. Return to the simple things in life – spend time in natural environments, eat food that is close to its natural state, walk in the park or along the beach or find somewhere to just enjoy half an hour of silence.