January 2021.Written by: Jamie Petersen
2020 was a year like no other as we endured lockdown periods and were confined to boundaries that limited social interactions. We had to wear a mask that left many of us feeling claustrophobic in our own space. Anxiety rose as so much of our daily routines and lives were interrupted. Uncertain times has left many experiencing emotional upheaval as we all fear something we cannot see, and finding happiness may feel out of your reach some days.
So, after a turbulent year, what does the new year of 2021 have in store for us? The coronavirus pandemic is still here, and some countries are experiencing a second, and even third wave of the virus. Further lockdown measures are in place for several countries, and for some, 2021 is feeling very much like a repeat of 2020.
So, how do we live our happiest life in 2021?
Finding happiness is often elusive, especially during these challenging times. Our brains are unfortunately not wired to continually be happy. Our brains have evolved to focus on survival, to protect ourselves, and to keep us safe. We all have our moments of elation and pure happiness, but many of us are plagued with negative persistent emotions. We need to find more happiness and joy in our lives. Just like anything, it takes determination and practice to cultivate ongoing happiness. We all need to reset our baseline and rediscover the hidden secrets behind becoming happier.
Let us dive into the topic in more depth. We have 10 tips to help you along your path of finding happiness in 2021.
It is so easy to say no. Saying no keeps you within your comfort zone and it is often the easier way out. When you say no, you eliminate the fear of failing or being rejected.
This year start saying YES! If you say yes more, your life has the potential to expand and deepen, and you can open up your life to more happiness.
Say yes to:
You need to retrain your brain from a negative mindset to a positive one when finding happiness for the long-term.
Life is not easy; it is full up and downs. But life is short too, do not let little victories go unnoticed. Take the time to celebrate even the smallest wins you have.
Did you tick off your to-do list that you have been avoiding? Well done! Enjoy the victory of completing your tasks.
Did you wake up early and go for a walk or run? That is great, you got some fresh air and some exercise.
Speaking about walking and exercising, it has been proven that exercise affects your mood. Make a short walk part of your daily routine. Finding happiness is just a few steps away.
A 2016 study conducted at Iowa State University showed that going for a 12-minute walk, even without a walking partner, can significantly improve your mood.
“We need our physical choices to help our emotional state,” explains Fati Marie, personal growth and positive mindset coach at Four Moons Spa. “Moderate exercise allows the body to get into the balanced state that it needs to stabilize hormones and release endorphins.”
If you want to shift your energy and alter your perspective, then adopt an attitude of gratitude, and start a gratitude journal.
“Don’t just say you’re thankful for a specific thing or person. Instead analyze how grateful you are,” recommends Dr. Caroline Leaf, neuroscientist, and author of Think, Learn, Succeed, who has also served as an advisor on a mental health initiative committee for the White House. “Keep a record of every time you’re grateful, every time you’re feeling down, and how your attitude affects your ability to think and act in a particular situation,” she recommends. Also, try setting a daily phone alert to remind you to take a second to appreciate your life. (Source: Oprahmag.com)
Writing helps you expel negative thoughts, and expressive writing helps you achieve emotional closure. Keeping a journal will help you free your mind, de-stress and declutter, and it will help you on your journey to becoming a happier person.
Want to start your gratitude journal? Try Emote!
When you are kind to others and give back, it ignites the pleasure centers in the brain that are responsible for the release of “happy” endorphins. It is often referred to as “the helper’s high.”
“I know life already feels too hectic, so the idea of adding more to your plate seems ridiculous. However, sometimes doing for others can bring a sense of peace and a new perspective to your own life.” – Kryss Shane (a mental health professional).
When you give back or pay it forward, you will have a sense of selflessness and humanitarianism. Here is an interesting knowledge bite – those who spend time and money on others, tend to be in better health because the feel-good effect of giving has been linked to lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels.
As human beings, we have a fundamental need to connect with others and to interact. It is our intuition to surround ourselves with people who will understand us, support and motivate us, and to be there throughout our ups and downs. Without meaningful relationships to fulfil our lives, we will be lonely and become isolated. We will also build up negative emotions, such as anxiousness. We are happier when we can pursue happiness with those around us because happiness, love, friendships, and community all center around each other.
It is important, however, to build meaningful relationships. If a relationship fills you with negative emotions or suppresses your happiness, then it is not one worth having. Remove toxic people from your life and share your time with people who share the right energies and engage with you on an empathetic level. If they want you to be happy and exude happiness themself, then they are worth your time.
If you are around a gloomy person, chances are that you will feel that energy and leave feeling low. Remember, moods are contagious. The secret to long-term happiness is to surround yourself with others who are also happy.
Put your phone down, switch off from technology, and go outside. Some researchers have discovered that those people who are continually online and absorbed in their technology are suffering from a nature-deficit disorder. Further studies have identified that the more we spend time outdoors, in nature, and the more we can relate to the natural world around us, the greater our sense of happiness.
Having a connection with nature has also been shown to play an important role in maintaining positive mental health.
“Have you ever noticed that your mood elevates when you spend time outside,” asks registered dietitian and performance nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, RDN, LD, CD. “That’s because human skin is able to create serotonin, a feel-good neurohormone. Exposure to sunshine helps the brain to regulate sleep cycles. Sitting by a sunny window is nice, but for the full serotonergic benefits, you need to get some skin in the outdoor game.”
One of the best ways to find happiness in 2021 for yourself is to just do you. You need to be yourself. What does this mean? It means you should not rely on the approval of others. You need to love yourself, accept your imperfections, and accept yourself for who you are. Get to know yourself. Explore what defines you. Explore and reconnect with your beliefs. Start a journal as you embark on your path to self-discovery and find ways to become more comfortable in your own skin.
Listen to music because music lifts our spirits. When we listen to music it causes our brains to release dopamine (a neurochemical that is connected to pleasure and reward). When you engage in music, whether just sitting back an enjoying the melody, or dancing away to a catchy beat, high levels of happiness and a sense of well-being are felt.
Music has also been shown to help in the production of cortisol – a stress-reducing hormone. This means that it induces feelings of pleasure, motivation, and above all, happiness.
Try these 10 tips as you embark on a new path of finding happiness for yourself, and do not forget to keep a journal.