So its International Happiness Day, which you may be aware of already if you follow Pharrell Williams on Instagram like I do. Or, if you are like me and have been glued to every update regarding Flight 370, you may have completely missed anything regarding a day of joy…
Please note this is not some made up Hallmark holiday that you should roll your eyes at and wonder if your girlfriend is going to be mad if you forgot! Here is a clip from the United Nations website: The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281 of 12 July 2012 proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.
So in honor of such a wonderful day, I created the TOP TEN ways to cultivate happiness. And, to be honest, this list is comprised of things that I have been doing the past two months to get myself through a life event in a healthy and positive way. So I guess you can say I have proof they will work!
- Investigate volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood.
I recently discovered VolunteerMatch.org which is helpful for finding volunteer work in your area. I found a few photography opportunities and also a writing opportunity at a hospice center. They want someone to come in and work with terminally ill patients inspired to write short memoirs for their families to have. The possibility of this being a weekly thing for me has my heart bursting. The fact is, studies have shown that altruism lights up the place in the brain that signals signs for pleasure. So, it is only natural that we feel happy in serving others.
- Re-examine your core values.
Think about what inspires you and is most important. Lately, I noticed that in doing this I have felt more thankful and also more decisive about things I want in my life. It can bring you a sense of clarity and control. And ultimately, happiness.
- Replace every negative thought with something positive.
As hard as this is, it is a great exercise to procure happy and positive thought patterns. This is something I have put tremendous focus on lately because negative thinking blocks the road to happiness. I follow the mantra of cultivating balance in my life and ask how I can balance out this negativity by adding something positive.
- Fire up your CURIOSITY!!
At UPenn they are doing some interesting work on Positive Psychology and how we can increase our happiness. One thing they found was that curiosity benefits our lives socially and romantically, and is associated with intelligence and problem-solving. What I loved about this study is they choose not to define curiosity as simply an interest in the world around us. They say a truly curious person is interested in their inner experience, just as much as the people, things, and experiences outside them.
- Go to yoga, the gym, running, spin class, barre class, pilates – ANYTHING!
Just pick one. Getting our heart rate up is the best way to elevate our mood and improve our health. Similarly, challenging ourselves physically leads to greater self esteem and a desire to eat better. Make it your goal to find a form of exercise you can commit to and won’t dread going to. And, most importantly, don’t use the “I don’t have enough time” excuse because it is my belief that there is always time. Even 30 minutes is fantastic compared to nothing. And you know you have at least one guaranteed result: that you will feel better!
- Cultivate gratitude
Turning our attention to the things we are grateful for has a tremendous impact on our daily lives. It’s been proven!
- Find a funny clip or two online and share with a friend.
I suggest any Between Two Ferns episode or Seinfeld clip off YouTube. Ron Burgandy clips from Anchorman work well too, as well as anything that comes up when you type in Larry David, Louis CK, Zach Galifinakis, Jerry Seinfeld and Will Ferrell.
- Connect and re-connect.
From the PBS website: “Psychologist James H. Fowler studied the data of 5,000 people over 20 years and found that happiness benefits other people through three degrees of connection, and that the effects last for a year. He says: “We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.”
- Make an attainable goal for yourself.
Setting goals is a way to materialize things we wish for ourselves. This can range from something like weight loss to going back to school to traveling to a place you have always dreamed of. In my opinion, travel is always an awesome goal to set because we can easily let things get in the way. The sheer act of typing “From NYC to PARIS” into the Kayak search engine makes my entire day better.
- Try something new.
You never know, you may have a hidden talent that you have yet to discover! Follow your interests and sign up for that class you have been eyeing online during your lunch hour. You never know what it will lead to. I just found this TWERKING class in a NY Times article and that is next up on my list of things to try!