One of the few things us humans can generally agree on is just how different we all are.
Our differences begin even before birth with genetics, and are exacerbated by our environment and other external influences that shape us into the person we are today.
As highly unique individuals, each of us sees life through a different lens, which often leads to a great degree of variability when it comes to our priorities, objectives, and preferences.
However, despite our sometimes drastic differences, the majority would agree that happiness is one of, if not the most important goal that we can strive for. Some have even gone as far as to call it ‘the meaning of life’.
And while what actually makes one person happy can differ significantly from what works for another, there are some universal steps we can take to increase our odds.
Here are 3 simple ways you can start being happier today:
You may have heard this before but it really does work. This is the quintessential application of “fake it till you make it”. All you need to do is…smile! I’ve found this works anywhere but can be even more effective if you do it in the mirror so you can see yourself cheesin’.
Even forcing an ear-to-ear smile for just a few seconds (obviously longer is better) triggers the release of certain hormones that can reduce stress and elevate your mood almost immediately.
Additionally, smiles are contagious. So an added benefit to this technique could be that you brighten someone else’s day, too. Win-win.
2) Stop comparing yourself to others
Comparing ourselves to others is a surefire way to sabotage our own happiness. After all, the truth is that no matter how wonderful we are, someone will ALWAYS be wealthier, better looking, smarter, skinnier, etc.
The trick is to remind yourself that you are a unique individual and as such, cannot be fairly compared to anyone else.
If you want to improve some aspect of your life (which you most likely do since you’re reading this) it’s far better to compare yourself to the one fair comparison that exists – the person you were yesterday. This way you can determine whether you’re positively growing as planned, or declining and in need of a change.
3) Be grateful for what you already have
I definitely saved the best for last here as gratitude is the foundation of my spiritual practice. It is also my go-to strategy anytime I’m feeling down, or catch myself having negative thoughts.
All it takes is a moment or even a few seconds thinking about something you are deeply grateful for to completely change your mood for the better.
I personally like to begin each day with a few minutes of gratitude, which typically helps me adopt a more positive mindset before I even get out of bed. I end each day in similar fashion, a technique that’s called ‘book-ending’ your day.
But gratitude doesn’t have to be limited to a specific time – I also have a gratitude journal that I try to write in as often as possible, simply listing the many things in my life that are far too often taken for granted, like having a roof over my head and food on the table.
So the next time you’re feeling down, why not give one of the tactics above a try? Granted, you probably won’t feel ecstatic right away or compelled to perform a celebratory dance, but you will feel better.
After all, isn’t that the goal?