5 Ways to Be Happier This Week
As a psychologist, I’m often asked for my professional opinion about how to be happier. There’s no easy answer, of course, but over the years I’ve developed what I believe to be the five keys to happiness. These are principles I strive to live myself, day in and day out; sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. But what I’ve learned is that keeping these concepts front and center has gone a long way toward helping me feel happier and more fulfilled.
Won’t you give it a try this week?
1. Put yourself first.
By prioritizing your own physical and emotional health, you will become a stronger individual. Is it selfish to put yourself first? Absolutely not. Just like an airline attendant will tell you, it’s critical that you put on your own oxygen mask before you put masks on other people. When you’re healthy and strong, you are the best and happiest version of yourself.
2. Seek out support.
This one has two components. The first is to build a strong social network of friends and family who can celebrate you when you’re up and support you when you’re down. The second is to ask for help from professionals when you need it. Rather than trying to be a jack of all trades, know that you’re not an expert in everything; seek advice from physicians, financial planners, therapists and lawyers when you have a concern.
3. Exercise daily. (Note: Stretching counts!)
Physical exercise helps you let go of stress, keeps you from overthinking your problems, and forces you to focus on your body. Even 10 minutes of gentle stretching will help you to feel calmer and happier. Try different kinds of exercise (yoga, biking, running, etc.) to see what you enjoy. Exercise classes are a great way to accomplish two goals at once: You’re surrounding yourself with positive people and sweating at the same time.
4. Eliminate all forms of clutter.
There are three types of clutter that affect your mood:
- Tangible clutter: Keeping an organized living space will help you feel calmer and more optimistic. Donate old clothing, recycle old magazines, and purge your space of unnecessary items. You’ll feel happier instantly.
- Time clutter: Do you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day? Eliminate unnecessary commitments that tie up your time. Kindly decline offers to join volunteer committees that tend to get bogged down in e-mails and phone calls. Other ways to streamline your schedule include ordering your groceries online or carpooling with other parents.
- Emotional clutter: Stress can be contagious! Distance yourself from individuals who fill your life with negativity. Seek out support from happy and encouraging individuals.
5. Find your tribe.
What’s your favorite hobby? Is it running, cooking, dancing or gardening? Actively seek out social groups that center around this activity, and you’ll meet other people who are similar to you. By socializing with people who share your passion, it’s easier to smile, laugh and be yourself.
Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital and in private practice in Bryn Mawr, PA. To learn more about her practice, go here. And to read more of Lauren’s posts for Be Well Philly, head over here.
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