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Happiness Tips

10 Tips for Greater Happiness and Well-being

Estee Goren, M.A., MFT

What does it take to live a truly happy life?

Is it about having different experiences? Being in a relationship? Accomplishing certain goals? Reaching a specific size or weight? Having enough money?

Some may believe that happiness is something that we can only experience in the future, if and when we achieve a certain goal. And yet, the truth is that happiness is about the here and now and is available for us in every moment and every breath.

If you are looking for greater happiness and well-being, the following 10 tips can spark greater joy in your days:

1. Practice the art of balance. Balance involves dedicating enough time and undivided attention to a variety of activities, including work, recreation, relationships, social interactions and self-care. It involves setting priorities and making choices. It involves balancing want to and have to.

2. Spend your time wisely. How do you want to spend the valuable asset of your time? Think about how you spend your days and if you’d like to make any changes.

In your work, try to focus on activities that you are passionate about most of the time. Make sure you spend time doing things that are meaningful to you.

In your free time, engage in activities that are fulfilling and fun. It can be something that challenges you – such as a new sport or hobby, hanging out with a good friend, spending time in nature, or exercising, which relieves stress and bolsters your mental and physical health. Practicing meditation can also help you be more present and let go of worries and mind chatter.

In your relationships, spend time with those you love. This can be your partner, family, friends or pets – those who you really enjoy being with. Good relationships support a basic need to feel validated, loved and supported. When we create lifelong companionship with a spouse or best friend, we enjoy intimacy, authenticity and a sense of self-worth, all of which lead back to happiness. Make sure you make time for the most important people in your life.

And we must all learn to rest. It’s all about being versus doing. Growing up in a culture that values doing, many of us are excellent at multitasking, accomplishing our to-do list and running around all day long. To gain a true sense of clarity and peace, we sometimes need to practice just being. While focusing on goals and productivity, we also need to learn to relax, sit in the backyard, listen to the birds, read a book or simply enjoy some quiet music. Learning to enjoy solitude can become the best part of the day – and may surprisingly allow greater productivity during the rest of the day.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify. The key step to creating a balanced life is to be willing to do less and spend more time on the things that matter most to us. How would you spend your time this week if you only had one year left to live? Are you currently living according to your life priorities?

Simply put, simplifying will lead to greater peace and happiness.

4. Focus your attention. As much as technology makes us more connected and more “efficient.” in many ways it adds pressure and distraction by preventing us from enjoying ourselves, our downtime or our time with others. Perhaps watching less TV, spending less time on the internet or putting the phone away will give you the time you need to focus on what really matters to you.

5. Slow down. There is truly no need to rush. While many of us learn from a young age that we need to get more done in less time in order to be successful, the real key to happiness is living a fulfilling life – not necessarily a busy life. If we rush through life not paying attention to the present moment, we will likely miss the good stuff and experience stress and anxiety. But if we slow down, do less and experience more, we may gain greater pleasure from simply enjoying each moment.

The key to slowing down is focusing on what is absolutely important, scheduling fewer activities and having more time and attention to connect with ourselves and our surroundings. Slowing down is a way of life. It is about eating slower, driving slower, walking slower, and, as a result, enhancing our awareness and enjoyment of the here and now.

6. Focus on the positive. When we are having a rough time, we tend to focus on what’s going wrong, which makes us feel distressed and depressed. However, when we take a few moments of gratitude – to think of people, things or experiences we are grateful for, we suddenly feel an instant boost in energy and joy.

The feeling of contentment comes from the way we think and interpret our experiences. We all have positive and negative aspects in our life, but it is our choice to focus on the positive and make the best of any situation. Take a few moments every day to pause and reflect on what you are grateful for - it will bring a smile to your face and your heart.

7. Live in the present. Many of us are busy living in the past – focusing on memories or what could have been – or the future – what if….? When we live in the past or future, we put our lives and happiness on hold. You may believe that you will only be happy when your goals are accomplished or when you gain control over the unknowable future. Or you may dwell on the past with a sense of loss or regret.

But people who live and focus on the present are able to enjoy the small things that happen every day - little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the morning, having lunch with the kids, taking the dog for a walk or welcoming our partner as she comes home from work. Living in the present and noticing all of the little things provides us with both pleasure and meaning and is the essence of a joyful and fulfilling life.

8. Find purpose. To truly enjoy the present moment, we also need to identify a few meaningful goals or gain clarity about our life purpose. Our life goals need to be really significant to us and have to be derived from our core values and passions. Pursuing your goals and living your life purpose creates a very satisfying journey. Enjoying the journey is one of the best ways of living in the present. Consequently, achieving goals can provide us with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Consider your own dreams. What makes your heart sing?

9. Learning something new. Kids are born with natural curiosity, which is why they keep asking “why?” They want to know more and learn more. As we grow up, many of us start to lose this innate sense of curiosity and are satisfied with what we already know. But by exploring, learning and expanding our knowledge and by passionately pursuing new interests, we can stay young at heart, bolster our brain power and increase our sense of contentment.

10. Practice acceptance. This is not easy, hence the word “practice.” It can be difficult to accept the behaviors or opinions of others and accept that what has happened has happened and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Yet, this mindset causes distress and anxiety. We become the prisoner of the situation. One of the biggest challenges in life is to learn to accept things that we cannot change or control as they are. It is helpful to recognize these situations and learn to let go. Likewise, when we accept others as they are, we open the door to better and stronger relationships.

It is up to us to decide how we want to live each day and each moment. It is about who we choose to be today, and how we think, behave and react to different people and situations. It is also our choice to commit time to the activities and people we value the most.

The way we lead our daily life directly affects our well-being. Practicing mindfulness, presence and gratitude is key to greater happiness in our life.

Estee Goren, MA, MFT
LMFT 50146

425 El Pintado Road, Suite 101
Danville, CA 94526

(925) 399-1177