Do you ever wonder why some people seem to be happy most of the time, while others rarely feel satisfied? It’s not just a matter of having good or bad luck. Studies show that our happiness is affected by the choices we make and the habits we form.
Here are 10 simple habits that have been shown to bring joy and contentment:
1. Get enough sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is very important to your mood because a good night’s rest is essential for mental restoration and rejuvenation. Sleep deprivation makes it harder for you to cope with stress, solve problems, and make decisions. Getting sufficient sleep enhances your ability to focus, be productive, handle stress well, feel energized, be creative, and function at your best.
2. Rest frequently during the day
Taking short breaks throughout the day allows you to recharge, which can help you sleep better at night and keep your mood more stable throughout the day. Your productivity levels will rise (and fall less), and you’ll have the mental energy to handle stress without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Make time for friends and family
Spending time with loved ones is a great way to boost your mood, especially if you’re feeling down or stressed out. Quality social contact has an energizing effect that can also help fight fatigue and depression, which in turn improves mental clarity and performance. Research indicates that face-to-face contact is superior to digital communication in terms of promoting a sense of belonging.
4. Express gratitude daily
Telling others (or writing down) what you’re thankful for can help protect your mental health and well-being in numerous ways. Grateful people tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression, as well as stronger immune systems and higher self-esteem. Expressing gratitude can also help you build stronger relationships with others and connect you to something larger than yourself.
5. Practice forgiveness
Sometimes it’s necessary to let go of anger, resentment, and hurt feelings in order to stop dwelling on the past and move forward with your life. Holding grudges keeps you stuck in a negative state of mind and damages your ability to experience joy. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past or forgetting what happened; it just means that you’ve decided to stop letting the situation negatively affect your life.
6. Nurture hope
When hope dwindles, so does life satisfaction. Hope involves expecting a positive outcome in the future, and believing that your goals can be achieved. A strong sense of hope is linked to better health, higher levels of happiness, greater life satisfaction, enhanced resiliency in the face of adversity, and overall improved quality of life.
7. Cultivate optimism
Optimism protects your mental health in many ways: It can help you stay motivated and bounce back from stressful or disappointing events, it can reduce your levels of anxiety and depression, and it fuels resilience by helping you develop a “can-do” attitude (even in the face of obstacles). Optimistic people also tend to have higher self-esteem.
8. Have fun
Fun is an important part of life, and it can play a major role in your mood. Fun activities help you relax, boost positive emotions, and feel more fulfilled on a daily basis. On the other hand, when you don’t make time for fun or treat yourself to something enjoyable, you’ll likely feel dissatisfied with your life—and burnout will be right around the corner.
9. Get moving
Exercise is a great way to both relax and energize yourself, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that regular physical activity can help improve your mood. When you’re anxious or depressed, exercise can give you an emotional boost by increasing the levels of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain (like serotonin and norepinephrine).
10. Eat well
Your diet is an important factor in your physical health, but it can also have a big impact on your mental wellness. The foods you eat can either contribute to depression and anxiety (by causing blood sugar imbalances and/or triggering inflammation in the body) or help reduce symptoms of these mental health conditions (by providing key nutrients and phytochemicals).