- Practice Gratitude. Your mind is designed with a negative bias (this was for survival - based on the fight and flight response). By intentionally appreciating what’s good in life and noticing what’s going well you help to overcome the negativity bias and you will 'accidently' start noticing more good. Read here about how to practice daily Gratitude.
- Know your Strengths and use them. Identifying and playing to your strengths feels easy, natural and congruent with who you are. It is far more effective than focusing on your weaknesses. It's also a great way to build wellbeing and reduce symptoms of depression. Click here for a free survey to understand your top strengths and how to use them.
- Savour Positive Experiences. This is about deepening the enjoyment of the good things in life so that you heighten the positive experience. You can do this by: (a) Sharing your positive experiences with others and tell them how much you value the moment. (b) Reminisce about a positive experience using photographs or a souvenir. (c) If you've achieved a milestone, pat yourself on the back and feel proud of your achievement. (d) Stay in the present moment to fully appreciate a pleasant experience, such as eating nice food or taking a bath. Keep your senses alert and heightened to all the pleasurable sensations that are going on - try not to think, just sense. (e) Sharpen your perception by shutting out other senses - such as listening to music with your eyes shut.
- Find Meaning & Purpose in your Life. Cultivating the deeper form of happiness that gives you a sense of fulfilment by doing Random Acts of Kindness for others; reflect on the greater meaning in your life or your work; find meaning in the little incidental things in life (like noticing how a broken tree limb on the ground has become home to bugs and is breaking down to renew the earth below it); and practice forgiving people.
- Nurture Relationships. Our connections to others are a primary source of happiness so it pays to nurture our relationships. Use Active Constructive Responding to help build deep and meaningful bonds with your loved ones.
- Learn how to be Optimistic. Optimistic thinking can protect you from the pessimistic thinking that drags your mood down. Rather than seeing a bad or negative situation as "this is how my life is", chose to view the incident as simply one unfortunate occurence that you can learn from, but know that it bares no relationship to what might occur in the future.
- Build your Resilience. The good news is that resilience is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Learn to challenge your automatic negative thinking and replace it with more realistic and helpful thoughts. Don't try to hide from negative feelings, rather learn to acknowledge their presence, sit alongside and observe them, and then consider the ways for you to move forward (ie you might feel grateful for the lesson you learnt, or recognise that this problem might not be about you).
- Write your goals. Working towards a goal gives you a sense of progress and achievement. You may have short term goals and/or long term goals. What matters most is that you write your goal down as a SMART goal and celebrate little milestones along the way.
- Exercise daily. You might be bored with reading about the importance of exercise but it's everywhere for a good reason - it works! Exercise releases endorphines and endorphines make you feel happy! Exercise also reduces the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. All of this on top of the stuff we already know about it being good for our heart. 30 minutes, every day - a brisk walk is enough.
- Get plenty of sleep. Yes, besides needing sleep for better health, it's known to help lift your mood and gives you greater emotional stability. If you are having trouble sleeping, try doing Mindful Meditation before bed - it calms a busy mind and primes you for a deep sleep.
I love the fact that all the tools that I share with clients are scientifically proven to be highly effective, yet every one of them is free and accessible to anybody. Sure, it often helps to sit with a Life Coach to assist in drawing out your deepest desires and understanding any hidden fears, or to help you understand how to write a goal, and to have someone on your side. However, with the emergence of the field of Positive Psychology, we all have access to everyday tools for a happier life. If you truly want to step into a more fulfilling life, imbued with happiness and greater wellbeing, here are 10 free and simple tips to follow: