I read this awesome article recently called 14 Timeless Ways to Live a Happy Life. As the content of the article is self-explanatory by its title, I won’t go into the details. I will only say that it brought me an amazing amount of perspective, clarity and joy. I was so inspired that I created a list of my own 14 ways to live a happier life. Enjoy!
- Breathe: Breathing is the only thing we do that is both voluntary and involuntary. Thus, how we breathe has a direct effect on our involuntary nervous system. Have you ever noticed how you breathe during a stressful situation? I would hazard a guess that it’s short, sharp or hitched. Next time you are stuck in that traffic jam focus on your breathing – inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for a second, then exhale for 4 seconds and repeat. You will be amazed how just altering your breathing can calm your mind and slow down your racing heart.
- Forgive: So many of us spend so much of our lives either mad at someone or angry from some situation that happened in our past. This pent up animosity, regret, (insert your negative emotion here) is so bad for our minds and our bodies. Negative thoughts are contagious and will affect all aspects of your life, including your health. Try practicing forgiveness and releasing these emotions and feelings. You may be amazed at how freeing it is.
- Love Unconditionally: Love is the most powerful and positive emotion out there. It has the ability to transform lives. For all of you dog owners out there, think of how your pup reacts when you walk in the door at night after work. That, my friends, is unconditional love. Send this love out into the world and I promise some powerful love will find its way back to you.
- Never Give Up: You deserve to have the life of your dreams. Don’t ever sell yourself short. If you truly believe in something from the very bottom of your heart, you can find a way to make it happen. Not saying it will be easy, but you can do anything if you truly put your mind to it.
- Address Your Stress: You may have heard that stress is the main cause of 99% of all illness. Sounds about right. Stress is bad news bears folks. I heard a great segment on NPR a week or so ago about how even small, daily stresses in our lives can be detrimental to our health (check it out here). Scary right? What can we do to combat this? Breathing deeply (see #1 above) and exercising daily are two good places to start.
- Get Back Into Nature: Our bodies haven’t really changed much since we were cavemen way back when. Back in those days we slept on the ground and constantly interacted with nature. There is a term out there called grounding (or earthing), which is based on the principle that direct interaction with the Earth is beneficial to our health (get more awesome info on earthing here). So get out there and walk on the grass in your bare feet and get your hands dirty in the garden. You will get some great vitamin D from the sun and breathe in some fresh air while you’re at it.
- Eat Foods With No Ingredients List: Humans are animals. Yes, very smart ones that have evolved and invented some pretty cool things, but still animals nonetheless. Our digestive system and inner workings also haven’t really changed much since the cavemen days. As a result, our bodies are healthiest and happiest when we fuel them with whole, natural foods. Just adding a few more whole fruits and vegetables to your diet will do wonders for your health.
- Laugh: For those of you who personally know me, I absolutely love to laugh. Loudly. We’ve all heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine.” Not only does it strengthen relationships, laughter provides a boost to your immune system and your energy levels and helps to counteract pain and stress. So get out there and crack some jokes! Even corny ones will do 🙂
- Be Grateful: Remind yourself often of all of the wonderful things in your life and be grateful for them. It will help you when things are not so great. Tell your loved ones every day how much they mean to you.
- Choose To Be Positive and Happy Every Day: Every day when we get out of bed we have a choice. We can choose to be happy, positive, kind and loving. Or we can choose to be negative, angry and hurtful. Of course there will be days when we are sad, that is inevitable. But remembering this choice may bring a spring to your everyday step and help us kick the blues faster when we are down for the count.
- Remember That It Will All Be Okay: One of my favorite artists, John Lennon, once said – “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I try to keep these words in mind every time something difficult tries to trip me up. Life isn’t perfect and sometimes it throws us a curveball. Keeping these words in mind might just help you remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Try New Things: I’m sure that at some point in your life someone has said to you, “don’t knock it until you try it.” It’s true. How did you discover all of the things you currently enjoy doing? You obviously had to try them for the first time at some point. You never know the path new opportunities could lead you down. It may end up being the best decision of your life. Think about something new you’ve been dying to try and then go out there and do it!
- Every Day Is A New Day: Every day when we get out of bed we have the opportunity to start fresh. The Earth starts a new spin on its axis and the world reawakens from its slumber. Set aside the worries and woes of yesterday and take on the day with a clean slate and a new (positive) attitude.
- Don’t Look Back, Only Look Forward: We can only learn from our past experiences, we can’t relive them. I have always struggled with this one and have to remind myself that regret is just a waste of time. What we’ve gone through in our lives shapes us into who we are. Recognize that and use that knowledge to make your present and future the best that it can be.
Peace, love and veggies,