6 Novel Habits that Increase Happiness
I Want to be Happy
Happiness is something we all seek. But it’s also a difficult concept to pin down. What is happiness? Is it an emotion? A state of mind? A thing you do? A habit you choose to develop?
Some people believe happiness is found through a life of hard toil and achievement. Others seek their happiness primarily in hedonic pleasures. Many people attempt to find happiness by living a life of balance. How we aim for happiness varies from person to person.
While happiness is hard to define, most of us experience a feeling we could describe as ‘happiness’ from time to time.
We know the feeling we are aiming for, even if it is hard to pin down with words.
How to be Happy?
While happiness comes easily to some people, to others it can prove elusive.
Certain behaviors seem to reliably improve happiness levels, whatever a person’s starting point. We can all adopt these behaviors that will tend to increase our aggregate feelings of happiness.
This suggests that happiness is a feeling but also something we do. And we can work to improve our happiness levels.
Certain habits reliably seem to push happiness further away from us. Habits like abusing alcohol, being sedentary, or holding grudges reliably make us less happy.
Other habits seem to increase the amount of happiness we experience. Nothing works for every person, all the time. But journaling, socializing, and exercise seem to increase happiness most of the time, for most people.
Here are 6 novel habits that increase happiness.
Look Your Best
“Dress like the person you want to be.” – Jordan Peterson.
Groom yourself. Look as good as you can (within reason). Dress like the person you want to be.
We tend to feel how we look. When we appear disheveled and disorganized we tend to feel disheveled and disorganized. When we look well-presented and optimized, it is easier to feel proud and competent.
Taking responsibility for how you present yourself and dressing well can increase confidence and happiness.
Write in a Journal
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Isaac Asimov.
Our minds are a whirlpool of conflicting thoughts, notions and desires. Being at the whim of every crazy thought that pops into your mind can lead to stress and unhappiness.
Journaling is a way to empty your mind and take an objective look at its contents. Journaling is a way to figure out what you really think. Journaling helps you to sort the wheat from the chaff. It helps you to hone and develop ideas that make you happy. And to disprove and discard irrational ideas that make you unhappy.
A scattered, unfocused, unaware of itself mind is fertile ground for anxiety and unhappiness. Meditation strengthens the mind. It’s a practical exercise. When done daily it will tend to make you calmer and happier.
Chat With People!
Start conversations with people. Connect. Go first!
Humans are social creatures. Connecting with other humans makes us feel great. It releases floods of feel-good endorphins.
The reason many people don’t chat with others is that they are afraid they’ll be rejected. This fear of rejection massively curtails people’s lives. It is hugely beneficial to get over this fear. You do this by gradually exposing yourself to it.
Push yourself to start little interactions. Pay a little compliment. Smile. Be open. Let your guard down and be less defensive. You will soon learn that other people are not your enemy, they are your friend.
When you ‘go first’ and start an interaction, 99% of people will meet you with love. They too have a strong desire to connect. Chatting with people regularly will improve your happiness levels.
Be Sober (Most of the Time)
Drugs such as alcohol and marijuana can feel great. They can give you very happy feelings. But these feelings are only momentary. They can’t last. And in the long run, regular drug use will make you less happy.
Chronic drug use clouds the mind. It makes you less clear thinking and your thoughts more scattered. A cloudy, scattered mind is fertile ground for anxiety, depression, and unhappiness.
A little bit of drug use can make life better for many people. Alcohol is certainly fun and can bring people together.
But it’s crucial to figure out what amount of a drug is best for you. Make sure you are not dependant on any drug. Make sure you are not over-using any drug. Make sure you are not caught in a spiral of; using a drug, then feeling the comedown and associated bad feelings, and then using the drug again to get rid of the bad feelings. Many people are caught in this vicious cycle with drugs as diverse as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and porn.
Have lots of sober days when your mind can relax and focus. A clear and drug-free mind will tend to be a happier mind.
Exercise releases floods of feel-good endorphins. Particularly vigorous exercise such as sprinting, cardio, and hot yoga. Even sex can have this effect.
Exercise is a habit. If you don’t currently do it, start small. Build the habit one small step at a time. Start now! Go for a walk.
The human body is meant to be used. So use your body (vigorously!) every day. Vigorous exercise will tend to increase your happiness levels by orders of magnitude. All of your worries melt away when you are gasping for air after an intense 30-second sprint!