If you were to sit down and make a quick list of adjectives to describe your mood right now, would happy be one of them?
Many of us struggle with feeling happy and content in our day-to-day lives. Happiness feels more like a fleeting moment – like that little bit of weekend fun, watching a favorite show on the couch or pouring that glass of wine and relaxing after a hard day at work.
Happiness and contentment don’t have to be relegated to weekends, vacations and after hours. They really can play a greater role in everyday life.
Here are 3 free, tried-and-true tools that I use to cultivate more sustained happiness and contentment. They don’t require a lot of extra time and they don’t cost a dime. What could be better, right?
Track daily gratitude: Write down every day at least 1 thing that makes you feel grateful and put that piece of paper in a bowl, vase or jar.
It is not enough to just think about a moment of gratitude. I’ve tried the shortcut and it doesn’t work! There is something about the act of writing these moments down that will help you feel even more gratitude!
It’s like a growing a gratitude garden! The more you notice these moments, the more grateful, happy and content you will feel throughout the day. This trick works because you’re doing everything consciously: noticing, writing it down and being aware of how much better you feel. These are moments of happiness you might have completely ignored otherwise.
I challenge you to write down several moments of gratitude throughout your day, no matter how small, and keep this practice going for 1 year. I started writing down daily gratitude on January 1st and I’ve noticed a huge increase in sustained feelings of happiness and contentment from day to day.
Miss a day? No problem! Think of and write down a couple more things you’re grateful for. The important thing is to keep this practice going and growing!
Take a walk: Put your phone in your pocket on silent mode. Don’t worry about speed or number of calories burned. Just be present.
I used to love pounding the pavement in my neighborhood to my Move Your A** music mix! A couple of years ago, I tried a different approach to walking. No music. No power pace. The goal was simply to relax, breathe, put one foot in front of the other and take notice of everything.
This kind of walking has become a kind of therapy for me. It clears my head of worries and stress. I can think of good ideas and next moves and best of all, I arrive home happy.
I know that leisurely walking without any cell phone or music distraction might seem weird at first, but try it for 15 minutes or longer. Notice how you feel when you get back to the house. Hopefully, more clear, relaxed and content.
It took me a long time to grow to love meditation, but I’m now a believer! I understand all of the common complaints: It’s hard to sit still. It’s hard to clear the mind and not think about To Do lists. It feels like doing nothing. I get it.
After I completed a 21-day guided meditation challenge, my opinion of meditation shifted. The practice of slowing down, clearing the mind and also opening the mind has helped me to feel more relaxed, peaceful and balanced throughout the day.
The game-changer has been developing a daily meditation practice. If you’re new to meditation, start small. Try meditating 5-10 minutes every day for several weeks and take notice of how you feel. Then try 15-20 minutes of meditation.
I recommend downloading the Insight Timer mediation app on on your phone and either setting the timer for the amount of time you wish to meditate or selecting one of their free guided mediations.
Whatever you decide to do, just commit and stick with it. Don’t worry about doing it all wrong. You will think about things; that’s inevitable. It’s the space between the thoughts where the mediation magic happens.
A sustained, daily mediation practice will not only help you feel more relaxed and centered throughout your day, it will also help you deal with stressful situations so much more calmly. A tornado of craziness might blow around you, but it won’t knock you down.
So, I’ve just written you a prescription for more happiness and contentment in your life that doesn’t involve any kind of medication: Gratitude. Walk. Meditation. Take each at least one time daily.
Here’s to your happiness! Hit reply below and let me know how your new happy habits are coming along!