“We often think that things, especially the getting of things, make us happier – whether that’s a new car, shoes, new nail polish, or something else,” said virtual life coach Taylor Martin.
While those quick happiness boosters might seem materialistic, according to research led by social psychologist Daniel Gilbert, those quick hits of happiness might not be far off from what we need for long-term satisfaction.
Having quality, new experiences not only makes us happier but the effects of happiness linger for a longer period of time. Ultimately, this provides a better quality of life when implemented frequently.
Are you looking to switch up your routine and experiences to increase your level of happiness? Try some these easy to implement, out of the box experiences, as suggested by life coaches and medical experts:
1. Choose passion over paycheck
In a recent study by BetterUp Labs, nine out of ten people surveyed said they’d trade up to 23 per cent of their future earnings in exchange for a more meaningful job.
And what’s more, studies have shown that if you’re working on something you find both challenging and satisfying, you’ll not only be happier but more productive as well.
2. Volunteer and help others
“One of the first things that come to mind when talking about happiness is the importance of giving,” said Dr Lina Velikova, MD, PhD.
To some, it may be surprising to learn that serving others can make you happy but volunteering is a perfect example of this.
When oriented at others, it helps with mental and physical health. Multiple studies have confirmed the benefits of volunteering that include improved life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness.
“It is also notable for reducing psychological distress, symptoms of depression, and mortality,” said Dr Velikova.
3. Indulge your senses
“By just observing a flower and using all of our senses to fully experience the flower we allow ourselves to release the endorphins that trigger our feeling of joy,” said virtual life coach Taylor Martin, adding that it’s not only the act of savouring but the mindfulness that is required.
“Having to focus on all of our senses, even just for a minute, requires our minds to focus on one specific situation.”
This focusing relieves our mind from thinking about other weights that it may carry throughout the day.
4. Take photos of the mundane
“Surprisingly, taking photos does have an impact on happiness,” said David Foley, founder of meditation centre Unify Cosmos.
“I’m not limiting this to just travelling, I mean taking random photos throughout life’s mundanity.”
According to Foley, taking photos forever freezes a particular moment in time and doing it randomly, boosts those levels of happiness. How? “Looking back on those will instantly remind you of the memory of that particular moment, and the reason why you captured it in the first place.”
5. Foster a healthy relationship and sex life
According to a recent study from Oregon State University, those who have a healthy, active sex life tend to be happier at their jobs.
The study followed 159 married people over two weeks and found that for at least 24 hours after having sex, participants were more productive, more satisfied in their job, and generally happier.
6. Practise gratitude
“A gratitude practise is where we intentionally focus on the positive things that have occurred or exist in our life and helps us enhance a positive mindset and strengthen neural pathways for positive thinking,” said Shefali Raina, a high performance coach based in New York.
Not only does a regular gratitude practise remind us of the positive things in our lives, it elevates our sense of health and wellbeing on a daily basis by “limiting our negative biases, altering our thoughts, emotions and perceptions of the upcoming day and thus allowing us to feel happier”.
7. Learn to manage stress
Modern life is fast paced, highly competitive and dynamic. Relentless deadlines and constant changes create internal stress.
“It is important to learn to be self-aware and regulate stress at work so that you are resilient and the volatility of the days and weeks does not impact your sense of calm and happiness,” said Raina.
“A daily mindfulness practise which strengthens your focus muscle and reduces your emotional volatility (amygdala reactivity) to external events goes a long way in helping you stay calm, energised and happy throughout your day.”
8. Foster sleep discipline
“Sleep serves important functions including in learning, memory retention, creativity, and helps set us up for positivity and wellbeing for the next day,” said Raina.
She adds that reframing sleep as productive time, and ensuring you get adequate sleep every day, is one of the most important things you can do to elevate your mental and physical energy, and feel happier.
9. Keep a journal
Journalling – or writing about your thoughts, emotions, experiences and goals – helps create a space of profound self-clarity and safety, builds our internal resilience and wellbeing, and helps enable us to focus our attention on the things important to us.
“Journalling, when used correctly, is a powerful tool for personal development and greater positivity and feeling happier,” said Raina.
This article was written by Kaitlyn McInnis and originally published on The Ladders.