We all want to live happy and fulfilled lives. Research in positive psychology suggests that the following tips have the power to actually change your outlook and help improve your satisfaction with life. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, or as a personal challenge, here are five positive practices to bring greater happiness in your life:
1. Live in the Moment.
It is easy to let our thoughts drift into the future or the past. We think about goals and deadlines, reminisce on good times or perhaps ruminate on bad ones. Perhaps the most difficult, yet rewarding task we can do is to keep our minds in the present. There are many ways you can practice living in the moment – starting with a personal practice of mindfulness. Not all mindfulness happens in a yoga studio or in a Zen space – it can be as simple as taking deep breaths in the office or listening to the rhythmic sound of your shoes hitting pavement on a walk.
2. Listen to Loved Ones.
With so much information vying for our attention, sometimes it gets hard to focus and we miss important moments. If loved ones are confiding in you, put whatever you are doing aside and listen to the meaning behind their message. Listen to learn. Listen to understand. Put aside the need to fix or help them with whatever they’re saying. Reflect back what you hear them say. Ask them for clarification if their message is confusing. These counseling techniques helps them to become more clear about what is disturbing for them. People typically vent so that they can process emotional turmoil out loud to those they trust.
3. Prioritize Quality Time.
We seem to always spend time being productive and needing an output to show for it. Sometimes, the most important output is the one that cannot be quantified. Spend time with your loved ones, even if it doesn’t get you somewhere or come with a touristy photo from an exotic place. Quality time can be as simple as eating a meal together or taking ten minutes after the kids get home from school to talk about the day. Quality time forges a unique bond between loved ones that money just can’t buy.
4. Count Your Blessings.
The science of gratitude shows that thankful people are generally happy people. Sometimes we forget the simple things that we ought to be thankful for. Adopt a time every day devoted to writing down what it is that you are thankful for. Write down a couple things that have a positive influence on your life, and even this small act can shape your perspective into one with more positivity. Share with your loved ones those things you are thankful for.
5. Let it Go.
Challenge yourself to only hold on to what truly matters to you. Are there things that you have been holding onto that need to be let go this next year? Consider the relationships, practices, and involvements that are more parasitic than productive, and carefully ask yourself why you continue to take part in them. Give yourself the freedom to focus your attention on the things that are truly important and life enhancing.
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