Fostering happiness on gloomy days

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 13.05.01

Happiness can mean something slightly different to each person. Something considered a fundamental truth to one person will seem like a cliché to another. What is more, life can often throw challenges that leave happiness seeming like nothing more than a distant memory. This could be the death of a loved one, financial woes, problems finding work or even problems at work—speak less of relationship breakdowns.

And let’s face it, we can’t control every one of life’s storms, but we can control how we respond to them. Here are a few tips to help you foster your own sense of happiness, even in the midst of chaos:

  • Gratitude—always try to focus on the good things. Experiment with listing ten things every morning that you’re grateful for to improve your mood. Perhaps you appreciate a sibling, your talent for drawing, or live in an amazing city. The Gratitude App is a great way to try this out. According to its developers, by reflecting on all the great things that happen in life ‘we fight off the brain’s natural tendency to scan for and spot the negatives. As a result, we train our brains to be more positive and thus happier.’
  • Health—Exercise releases endorphins (natural hormones that make you feel good), reduces muscle tension and can help snap you out of harmful repetitive thinking. Anyone with a decent pair of trainers can go for a run, or if that’s not for you, Youtube has a wealth of fun ways to get active, from Pop Pilates to perfecting a Beyoncé dance routine.
  • Altruism—helping others really does make you feel better, not least because it takes your mind off your own problems. Try surprising someone by making them a cup of tea, giving a present to someone, or visiting an elderly relative who lives on their own. 
  • The little things—or, joy of life. Sometimes in the rush of daily living, we forget to take time out to enjoy ourselves. Perhaps one of the most important ingredients in the recipe of happiness is doing things that are whimsical, that have no obvious purpose apart from adding colour to our day. These activities will be different for everyone, but it could be things like smelling some flowers, drawing for fun or a walk in the park. 

Happiness is a process; it is not something you can arrive at, but must be fostered and grown. Though life inevitably happens, adopting habits that encourage a happier outlook can only help to strengthen your grip on positive emotions and develop your mettle.

 

Guest post by Catherine Heath

Photograph by Keiichi