Most of us, ultimately, want to live a healthy and happy life. That might sound pretty straightforward, but the facts tell us a different story. Depression, anxiety and stress are on the rise, with 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year.
If you look at how we live our lives these days, it can’t come as a big surprise that more people are finding it harder to find lasting happiness. Most of us hold high expectations for ourselves and are trying to juggle multiple roles, not accepting anything less than perfection. We have demanding careers and home lives, a stressful commute to work, friends and family to stay in touch with, goals to achieve. On top of that we want to stay healthy and fit, keep up with what’s going on in the world and, let’s face it, we are all at least a little addicted to our mobile phones.
Whilst you sometimes can’t change what’s going on in your life, you can change how you deal with it. You always have the option to choose a different response or to change a mindset something that isn’t working for you.
Sounds good? Check out the 4 mind hacks below you can apply today to live a happier life:
1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Gratitude is nothing more than acknowledging the goodness in your life, whether this goodness is tangible or intangible. Research has shown that there is a strong link between practicing gratitude and happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
You can practice gratitude in various ways. Keep a daily gratitude journal to note down anything - big or small - you’re grateful for. Write thank you notes or cards to people. Say thank you to strangers who are kind to you. Make it a habit to express your gratitude, either in written word or vocally.
2. ONE POSITIVE FOR EACH NEGATIVE
Some days things just seem to go against us. It starts pouring with rain the minute you leave the house. Your train leaves just as you arrive at the platform and the next one is delayed. You spill coffee all over yourself when you’re on your way to a job interview. Someone is extremely rude to you at the supermarket.
When things like that happen, it can be easy to get in a negative mindset and the rest of your day could be doomed.
Instead, try the following: each time a negative thought enters your mind, complement it with a positive. For example, when you think “honestly, why does it have to start raining the minute I leave the door?”, add “well, on the upside, rain is good for the trees and plants”. Or when you catch yourself cursing that rude person, think that it’s a good test for you to not let it get to you or that it’s a testament to your character that you responded with grace and kindness.
This way, you’ll train your brain to always look for the positive in any given situation.
3. THE 'TODAY IS NOT MY DAY' RULE
Happiness doesn’t mean that you need to be happy 100% of the time. That’s not very realistic and striving to always be happy actually does more harm than good.
On days when you practicing gratitude and naming one positive for each negative doesn’t seem to work, don’t force it and just allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to be frustrated, irrational, angry or grumpy. These are all valid emotions and sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to not fight them. Accept that today is simply not your day.
Tomorrow is a new day and if you allow yourself to be frustrated, irrational, angry or grumpy for a limited time, chances are you’ll be able to snap out of it tomorrow.
If you’re not already on the meditation bandwagon, jump on in. Meditation has gone mainstream and for good reason. Scientific research has shown that regular meditation lowers stress, worry and anxiety, improves resilience against adversity, increases optimism, improves your mood, aids better decision making and problem solving, boosts cognitive skills and creativity, improves the immune system, boosts energy levels and reduces blood pressure - to just name a few.
And with free guided meditations from the likes of Headspace, Calm, Sandy Newbigging and Gabby Bernstein, there really is no excuse not to get meditating.
If you’ve tried to meditate in the past, but didn’t feel it was for you, do yourself a big favour and try again. There are so many different approaches and people who offer it, so keep on trying until you find something that works for you.
If you make these 4 mind hacks a habit, I’m pretty confident you’ll start to see big changes. They have been life changing for me and I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be for you too.
Why not start today and give these ideas a go. But, if you think you are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, it’s always advisable to talk with your GP or a qualified health professional to get you the support you need.
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