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Togetherall: How To Be Happy

Make more of your life by following these ten steps for happier living, based on the latest wellbeing research.

Have you ever wondered about the secret of happy people? True some people’s lives seem unusually blessed, but others seem to find happiness whatever their circumstances. Some of it comes down to how we are – certain people naturally have a sunnier outlook than others. But happiness studies show there are ten steps we can all take toward happier living. Here’s how to realise a ‘Great Dream’.

Look outside yourself

1. Give

Start by doing things for others. Giving lends our life meaning, it helps connect us to others and distracts us from our own troubles. Try giving to someone you know, regular volunteering or a random act of kindness to a stranger. Do it today – find that generosity of spirit. Give someone else that parking space, do a favour for a neighbour or work colleague, go out of your way to help someone. And don’t just do it when you’re feeling big-hearted. Try it on a bad day, and see how it lifts your mood.

2. Relate

Close, supportive relationships make us feel secure and happy. They help us feel good about ourselves and lend meaning to our lives. Our wider connections with people are also important because they give us a sense of belonging. Don’t let your biggest regret be that you didn’t make enough time for people, particularly the people you care about. However busy you are, make time to connect. Set time aside for family and friends to have a laugh and share new experiences. Suggest taking it in turns to plan a surprise trip out or each contribute a dish to a shared meal. Build up your wider connections by attending a community event or group, taking up a local cause or volunteering your services.

3. Exercise

Did you know that an active lifestyle makes you happier? Psychologists believe we are programmed for activity and exercise releases our natural happy pills – endorphins. So next time your mood dips, stretch, walk or swim your way to a better place. Better still, exercise regularly to help keep your mood stable. Each time you’re tempted to give exercise a miss, remind yourself how much better you’ll feel if you encourage yourself to do it. Feel the instant lift that exercise brings and use it to motivate you to do more. Read more about overcoming the barriers to exercise.

4. Appreciate

Ever think there must be more to life than this? There is, and the answer lies right in front of you. We can be so caught up with the noise in our head, we forget to live our lives. So step back from your ‘busy brain’ and take time to experience the moment. Life will feel richer and more fulfilling, you’ll feel more connected to the world around you and more in tune with yourself. At certain points in your day, take notice of what’s around you and what you are doing and feeling. Use all your senses to experience that moment. Find what gives you pleasure right now. Take this further by learning the meditative technique of Mindfulness.

5. Try it

It can be tempting to stick with what you know. But making a regular effort to try something new can keep you interested and engaged. Try something just beyond your comfort zone – it will boost your confidence and make it easier to deal with life’s setbacks. It’s also a good way to learn new skills and enjoy new ideas and experiences. Do something different today: walk a different way; try a new food; learn a new skill; or sign up for something sitting in your ‘maybe one day’ tray.

Look inside yourself

6. Direction

Imagine your life as a series of stepping stones. Each stone is a goal you’ve set for yourself, hard enough to challenge you, but not high enough to set you up for a fall. The stones give your life direction and meaning. And the journey and the wisdom you gain are as important as the final destination. Think of a goal you’d like to work towards and write it down. Decide on one thing you can accomplish each day over one week that takes you in the right direction. Now share it with a friend. Let your friend know how you get on. Try our exercise on goal setting.

7. Resilience

Resilience is about coping with life’s challenges and bouncing back from adversity. You need to believe in yourself, and also your ability to manage bad situations. So instead of treating mistakes as the end of the world, see them as temporary setbacks from which you can learn. When you’re feeling bad, try to step back and find another way of thinking about it. Imagine what you’d say to a friend in the same situation, or what note you would like to be writing about it one year on. How can you act on this today? Read more on how to build up your resilience.

8. Emotion

Studies show that regularly experiencing positive emotions gives us the resources to cope with life’s challenges. It’s not about seeing things through rose tinted spectacles or putting on a happy face. Just take the time to notice the positive things in life. It’s easy to dwell on what goes wrong. But each evening before you go to bed, find three good things that happened in your day. Ask friends and family to share theirs with you too.

9. Acceptance

Do you sometimes look around and feel you don’t measure up? Do you see people who are better looking, better off, more successful, more popular or luckier than you? Constantly comparing ourselves to others makes us feel dissatisfied and unhappy, and means we can’t see our own strengths and values. Judge yourself on your own strengths, rather than against someone else’s. Combat negative self-talk (‘you’re rubbish’, ‘you’ll never get anywhere’) by learning to be your own best friend. Tell yourself what you like about yourself, as you would a friend, and help improve the way you feel about yourself.

10. Meaning

A meaningful life is feeling part of something you believe in that’s bigger than yourself. This comes from knowing what really matters to you – and living your life according to those values. Instead of spending your time on things that aren’t important, think what activities, people and beliefs bring you a sense of purpose and passion. Then prioritise them in your life. Imagine you’ve reached a ripe old age and someone has written a book of your life. What would you like it to say about the choices you made and what’s really important to you? Consider how closely this reflects your life now. Think of one change you can make this week so your life reflects more closely what really matters to you. A ‘Great Dream’ is based on the work of Action for Happiness, a movement for positive social change.

This article is part of our TogetherAll article series where we highlight content available on the TogetherAll platform. TogetherAll is FREE for all FFWPU-UK members. For more information, please visit: https://familyfedcommunity.co.uk/togetherall/

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