“I don’t want to be happier,” said nobody ever.
Even if you identify as being generally happy, the idea that you could increase your happiness is still appealing.
Helpfully, longevity expert Dan Buettner wrote a book on how to be happier.
If you’re going to learn how to be happier, why not learn from the masters, right?
According to Dan’s research, there are six factors that correspond with personal happiness, and they hold true no matter where in the world you live. He lists:
- Trust. Can I trust my neighbour?
- Tolerance. Can I live out my values?
- Community. Do I have strong social connections?
- Healthy life expectancy. Take our True Vitality Test to measure your life expectancy.
- GDP. Money does matter…up to a certain point.
- Freedom. Do I have the freedom to do the work that is right for me?
[Source: Blue Zones.com]
When these factors are in place, life is sweet.
Of course, for most of us, our current environment may only offer a few of the key ingredients for a happy life.
If that’s the case for you, all is not lost.
It’s Time to Up Your Happiness Quotient
But first, a little more about Dan Buettner. A National Geographic Explorer, writer, and the founder of Quest Network, Inc., Dan is an interesting (and busy) guy.
Dan is also a frequent guest on the Rich Roll podcast. The lastest episode (which I have yet to listen to) promises to unlock the secrets for living long and well.
When asked what the average person could do right now to increase their happiness, Dan immediately suggested these three things.
1. Make a Happy, New Friend
The distinction here is ‘happy’. It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you. More than that, your friendship circle should have a positive effect on you.
If you leave a social interaction with your pals feeling drained, it’s time to make a change.
We all have bad days, but if you have a Debbie or Dave Downer in your life who does nothing but complain, you definitely need to break up with them and find yourself a new, happy friend.
According to Dan, your happiness will go up by 15 percent when you do. That might not sound like a lot, but try feeling 15 percent less happy and you’ll soon change your attitude.
2. Rack up Some Random Acts of Kindness
Your kindness is contagious. Do something nice for someone else, and you’ll feel good, too. Even better, if a third person witnesses your act, they benefit as well.
Dan is emphatic on this one. He recommends volunteering even if you think you don’t have the time. His research shows that people who find meaningful ways to give back are happier.
While being kind should be our go-to way of being, we often allow ourselves to be dragged along by life’s busy-ness.
It’s no excuse though.
Giving back has never been easier. The Interwebs is literally awash with ideas. Google ‘how to make a difference’ and you’ll be inundated.
A better idea (IMHO) is to avail yourself of the kindness resources on the Random Acts of Kindness website.
With many parts of the world in lockdown right now, volunteering can prove tricky. They’ve come up with ways to be kind even when you’re in isolation.
If it sounds like a mission to remember everything they suggest, not to worry. They even have a kindness calendar you can download.
3. Get Enough Good Sleep
Want to know how to be happier? Make getting enough good sleep a habit.
We’ve all know what it feels like to wake up after a bad night’s sleep.
Hello Mr Grumpy Pants.
The effect of too little sleep can be dire. According to the International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, reducing your sleep by even an hour a night increases your risk of physical, mental and emotional issues.
The National Sleep Foundation says the average person requires 7-9 hours of shut-eye to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
But, there’s more to sleeping than snoozing on the sofa. You need to set yourself up for some quality shut-eye. Improving your sleep satisfaction is key to feeling energised, productive and happy.
Adopting the 7 habits of highly effective sleepers will ensure you have a great day. Even your annoying cubicle mate won’t be able to dampen your excellent mood.
Some Happiness Bonus Tips
As an added bonus, find yourself a bicycle tire and a stick and go run races with your mates. Why? Research has also shown that playing also makes you happy.
Exercising regularly is another way you can improve your mood. Yes, it’s harder than eating a bowl of ice cream, but at least it doesn’t make you fat. Plus, there are all those exercise endorphins to look forward to.
Hauling yourself off the couch and lacing up a pair of running shoes is often the last thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed, but mood follows action. In this case, happiness follows running (or yoga or whatever).
Finally, this compilation of TED talks on happiness will provide even more insight on how to be happier. Make some popcorn, pour yourself a glass of vino, and enjoy.