In the recently released World Happiness Report for 2018, South Africa is looking miserable! We dropped four places to 105 out of 156 countries. Hearing about this while I was sitting in stop/go traffic, crawling into work on Monday, I could sympathise… But as I walked through our beautiful city of Cape Town from the parking lot, I realised just how much we have and how much happier we should be.
Easier said than done, right? I like to think of it as more of a journey than an actual destination. No one is happy all the time (except those occasional annoying individuals). So what makes us happy and how do we find happiness? My research turned up a few handy tips.
Happiness Tip No. 1: Exercise
No, we’re not just saying this because we’re Women’s Health magazine… A good workout doesn’t only make you sweat, it also releases endorphins (those feel-good chemicals), which gives you a feeling often described as an endorphin ‘rush’ and can keep you in a good mood for 12 hours after your sweat sesh.
And even though it’s about what’s on the inside, not the outside, who doesn’t want to look good? Some regular exercise and you will be feeling happier and more body confident. How ’bout dat?
Happiness Tip No. 2: Choose Happiness
Yep, that’s right, by just choosing to be happy you’ll become a happier person. Smile. Even if it’s slightly forced, it will make you feel better. Resting bitch face is so old…
What’s more, back that up with some positive thinking. Just like any bad habit, is you’re stuck in a routine of thinking negative thoughts, it will become part of who you are – and tricky to kick. Train your mind to stop as soon as a negative thought happens. Instead, think about something good: a fun memory from the weekend, or something exciting coming up.
Another way to train the brain is to rewrite your story. Go back to those high school days and get yourself a journal. When life is getting you down, write about it – and then rewrite it as though you were giving advice to a friend. “I’m broke and I have no friends in this new city” becomes “You can do it! You are working really hard and you will be paid soon. There are so many interesting people here, you’re bound to find your people soon.”
Happiness Tip No. 3: Get Outside!
Drink water. Get sunlight. You’re basically a plant with more complicated emotions. Just a quick 20 minutes outside can boost your mood, so no excuses about that busy schedule. Take your lunch break outside, get that fresh air, clear your head and maybe even combine it with some exercise for the ultimate lift.
Happiness Tip No. 4: Experiences Over Things
We’ve all heard it before – money doesn’t buy happiness. When we’re old and grey, what we treasure most are experiences, not our shoe collection. So rather spend your money on moments you’ll remember forever – a music festival, rock climbing, bungee jumping, whatever tickles your fancy. One day you will have an incredible story to tell.
READ MORE: 30 Things To Do By The Time You Turn 30
Happiness Tip No. 5: Friends And Family
Although we all enjoy some alone time with bed and series, social time is equally important for your happiness. And that includes all the introverts. What really matters in life are our relationships with other people. So schedule in some quality time with the people that get you. You’ll be happier – and so will they. It’s a win-win situation.
Happiness Tip No. 6: Sleep More
Nap time! Sleep allows our bodies time to recover from the day and get us ready for another one. Fact: There’s a correlation between sleep deprivation and negativity. Don’t you find it harder to get through a day on five hours’ sleep? Adults need between seven and nine hours’ sleep – and never frown upon a good old power nap. Put down the phone, turn off the laptop and get a good night’s rest.
READ MORE: 7 Easy Hacks For Your Best Sleep Ever
Happiness Tip No. 7: Meditate
Make time to meditate. This ancient practice is still with us for a reason. Meditation improves clarity, focus and attention span, and among the many benefits is happiness. Find your inner zen and chill out.