5 things that makes you happier

Many things can make you happier. Watching a good movie, having a good meal or win a lot of money can make you happier. There is however a distinction between short-term happiness and feeling good and being happy in the long run. All of the mentioned examples only make you happy in the short run. For example, to win a lot of money can of course be fun, but the problem is that we get used to it relatively quickly. Research shows that lottery winners who win large sums become happier right after they have won, but that after 12–18 months they are back at the same level of happiness as they had before the win. There are however some things to keep in mind to be happier in the long run.

1.Think about what you have and not what you don’t have

Be grateful for what you have. Overall, most people in the western world are materially well off. Buying more stuff will generally not make you happier as long as you have roof over your head, food on you plate and clothes on your body. Instead, spend money on experiences not on more gadgets. The advantage of experiences is that they are much more durable for our mental well-being than gadgets are. We adapt quickly to new stuff, but a nice holiday trip (not necessarily expensive) we can both look forward to, enjoy while it lasts and then think back on and enjoy afterwards.

Another thing is to compare yourself to “normal” people. If you compare your life with (often made-up) perfect lives portrayed in the media, you might get depressed. Be realistic and compare yourself with people around you. Are you really worse off than your neighbors or friends? Probably not. To avoid comparing yourself to “fantasy lives” presented in the media, realize that they are just fantasy lives. It is often smart marketing that is all about being able to sell more stuff. That’s not what reality looks like.

2. Doing good for others / Strengthening your close relationships

Appreciate and nurture your most important relationships and help yourself to make others happy. For example, I am feeling happy when I spend time with my children. Little things like going to the beach or having an ice cream together can be fun for everybody involved. You do not always have to spend a lot of money to make your children and yourself happy. If you do not have children, you can always have a coffee with an acquaintance or go for a walk together or why not join a non-profit organization.

3. Doing things you are good at

Doing things you are good at and at the same time challenge yourself to raise the bar and get even better can make you accomplish something important and good. It can even make you forgetting time and space and feel “flow”, a state where you are fully immersed in the activity and also feel enjoyment. Flow makes you happier in several ways. For example, it is enjoyable in itself to end up in a “flow” and it can also lead to other successes in life because you get better at something you are already good at. It can lead to a better career or that you are appreciated in a non-profit organization.

So, it can be good to do more of what you are good at and less of what you are not so good at.

4. Do good for yourself

Take care of yourself, your health and your well-being, your financial security and create a balance between work and other things in your life.

Just like your parents probably said when you were a kid, eat your fruits and vegetables. A lot of research shows that fruits and vegetables are good for you, and that means both inside your body and outside. If you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, you can get cancer as well as other diseases, and bad skin.

Exercise is also something you need, and it doesn’t have to be hard exercise. The everyday exercise is very important. Try to move every day and not sit down for several hours at the time, maybe you can take your bike to work or take a walk during the lunch break. If you work at a desk, you could also consider standing up while working instead of having a chair. All this helps prevent overweight and heart diseases.

Finally, you also need enough sleep. Studies show that 95 % of all people need 7-9 hours of sleep every night to be fully rested. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll find it harder to concentrate, your driving gets as bad as somebody who has been drinking alcohol, your mood gets worse, and you look worn.

5. Do not drink too much alcohol

Many of us enjoy a Friday beer or some wine to our weekend dinner, and that is not a problem for most of us. Overconsuming alcohol is however not good for your well-being. There is a quote that summarizes one of the results of a Harvard happiness study that has been ongoing for decades:

“If alcoholism is not the root of all evil, it is closely correlated with it.”

This means that nothing to moderate drinking makes you happier in the long run.

Summary

To be happier, try to not only buy stuff, instead focus on buying experiences. Let go of a lot of career and money-hunting and focus on what you are good at and try to do more of that. Other ways to improve your wellbeing is to hang out with your friends or family, exercise your body, eat more vegetarian food, get a good night sleep, and last but not least turn off all social media for a little while, and compare yourself with people in your surroundings and not with Influencers.

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