When life throws you a curveball and you find yourself wanting to discover how to feel happy again, try using these 3 simple science backed techniques to get a happiness boost quickly and have some fun along the way.
How To Feel Happy Again
We are all on a journey of self discovery, personal growth and self improvement. You wouldn't be reading this if you weren't. But what happens when life throws you lemons and you find yourself on a downward spiral. Before you know it you'll be asking yourself how you got there and what you can do to get yourself back to where you were.
I had this exact experience when I had a major stroke at 38 while looking after my 2 year old and 2 week old girls, shortly followed by redundancy from an Executive position - a job I'd been doing for over a decade. For me at that time, life was a real struggle and I needed to discover how to feel happy again. However, I was down but I certainly wasn't out and during that time I used 3 simple techniques to help pick me up and feel better so I could deal with every day life.
Cleanse Your Space
From the 80's onwards we've been stuck in a cycle of measuring our success by the amount of money or material things we have. Back then, as it still is for some today, was all about accumulating processions.
We often seek pleasure and hedonistic happiness in the purchase of belongings and use them to distract our minds from what we probably need to be dealing with more directly. This is like sticking a tiny plaster on a wound that needs attention. Eventually the tiny plaster just won't be enough.
This hedonistic happiness is a temporary fix which gives us a dose of Dopamine (our pleasure chemical) and can be an addiction as the more we experience the temporary fix, the more we want it... and so the cycle begins.
However, while this is going on our space is becoming cluttered, difficult to deal with and in turmoil. This unfortunately is replicated in our emotional state too.
The benefits of decluttering are clear and usually result because less clutter allows you to focus on what's important. Your space also reflects your emotional state like a mirror, so the calmer and more tranquil it is then the more you will be too.
In a study in 2009 evidence showed that women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were “restful” and “restorative”.
In recent years we've started to discover that the new way to be successful is to achieve a higher level of wellness and personal happiness. We're no longer validating ourselves with a highly paid job if it doesn't allow us to achieve our lifestyle goals and we're no longer willing to let our processions be in charge of us.
Now we're in charge.
A simple 4 step process to decluttering is to go through your house room by room dividing the items into 4 distinct piles and then dealing with them appropriately:
- Recycle - if something is broken or missing a part you planned to 'fix later' then get rid of it.
- Donate - If you haven't worn or used something in a year then there's a very good chance you never will. Theses items should go to the thrift shop so others can benefit from them.
- Sell - If you haven't used something for over a year, but it still has some value then consider doing a car boot or garage sale to exchange it for funds you can use to craft your future bucket list of activities to generate more happiness.
- Keep - These should be items you know you will use in the next year and beyond.
Practice Gratitude Techniques
Scientific evidence shows us that using simple gratitude techniques and exercises, such as keeping a diary can really help us feel happier, more positive and give our zest for life a boost.
The foundations of this exercise are based in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), a technique that helps change negative patterns and improve the way we feel.
The idea is that your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations and actions are all connected. If you have negative thoughts and feelings then these can trap you in a vicious cycle, which in turn bring more negativity.
Exercising a gratitude technique not only helps to stop the vicious cycle of negative feelings and thoughts but it also helps to make new more positive patterns in thoughts, feelings and behaviour, helping you to improve your state of mind using simple daily exercises at home. This is an incredibly simple exercise to follow to show you how to feel happy again.
This method of breaking patterns and making new ones is the foundations for neuroplasticity, a relatively new area of science we are only just scratching the surface of in relation to how we can use it to combat negative influences in our lives.
Read more about gratitude techniques and exercises here.
Go Outside More
This might seem like a flippant statement because we all feel better if we go outside, take off our shoes, feel the grass under our feet, smell the flowers and listen to the birds in the trees. However, there's now real evidence to show that this really does help us improve our state of mind and happiness.
After my illness I was desperate to find out how to feel happy again. All I wanted to do was write about camping and being outside - even when I couldn't be. This is why I started my free online magazine - Inspired Camping. Just by thinking about it made me feel like I was doing it and I seemed to physically benefit as a result.
Being in nature has long been associated with being mindful and meditative, but only recently has the scientific community researched the mental health benefits of this type of outdoor immersion.
This is called Ecotherapy or Green Therapy and in a study in 2013, was proven to improve mental health, boost self esteem, help people with mental health problems return to work, improve physical health, and reduce social isolation.
Another study in 2010, proved that simply spending 20 minutes a day helps to boost energy levels, zest for life, vitality and our resistance to illnesses.
So when life throws you a curveball and you find yourself wanting to discover how to feel happy again, introduce these 3 simple science backed techniques to give yourself happiness boost and improve your zest for life.