Eight Habits of Happiness, by Colleen Pellette, ASW
The goal to live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life is one that many hope to accomplish, but often when living our day to day lives, it can feel unattainable. We can go weeks, months, and even years living very unhappy and unfulfilling lives. When we look at the whole person and how to fulfill the needs of the whole being, we can look at eight activities that can better help accomplish these goals. These activities can be done in conjunction with one another or separately. As you read these tasks, think about days in your life when you’ve accomplished all eight in one day. Generally this leads to a more fulfilling experience, and the more you can accomplish these activities on a daily basis, the happier and more fulfilled you will feel.
As many of you know sleep is a vital part of our existence and health. The days you do not get enough sleep are the days you often feel the worst. Doctors recommend we get an average or 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Eating proper nutrition for your body is essential to living health. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become a health nut, it just means you need to nourish your body. You can’t focus on other areas of your life unless you have adequate food in your belly.
Get your blood pumping and body moving. For our whole being to feel healthy we need our bodies to feel healthy too. Take time out of your day to go for a walk, join an exercise group, or a softball team. The more active you are the more energized you’ll feel. If you feel tired at the end of a long work day try going for a walk instead of taking a nap, it will often help you feel more energized.
All humans have an innate desire to connect with others. We are communal beings who are healthiest when we are able to engage in connections with others. This doesn’t mean if you are an introvert you need to attend large social events on a daily basis. Make a phone call each day to someone you love or schedule a movie night with a close friend or partner. If you are an extravert you may need to schedule time in your week for larger social activities. There are multiple studies that suggest people live longer, happier, and healthier lives when they have connections with others. There are even studies that show the benefits of elderly individuals having pets as a form of companionship-pets can help reduce blood pressure, increase social connections, and increase physical activity. Any form of companionship is better than nothing, so take time to realize what you need in life and take steps to make that happen.
We need to stimulate our brains in some way every day. Some people have jobs which do this on a daily basis and others don’t. If your job is not mentally stimulating you need to find other hobbies or areas in your life where you can get your brain activated so that you can stay healthy. If you love puzzles do a daily Sudoku, crossword, or get a physical puzzle out of your closet. If those activities bore you and you are more of a hands-on learner take 10 minutes out of your day to learn something new- learn to play guitar or learn to knit. Anytime you are learning something new, you’re activating new circuits in your brain and it will increase you mental stimulation.
This is harder to accomplish on a daily basis but I encourage all of you to attempt to engage in a fun activity every day. This could be spending 30 minutes actively playing with your child, playing a game of football or softball, going on a fun or romantic date with your partner, or it could just consist of having lunch and laughing with your co-workers. Get your juices flowing- laugh and play, if it feels like work you aren’t having fun.
Having time in your day to relax and decompress is very important; whether it be waking up early to have a cup of coffee and sit in silence for a bit, reading a book before bed, or staying at home and watching Netflix. Time set aside for you to relax is very important for both your emotional, physical and spiritual heath.
Connecting with the spiritual part of you is very important to live a fulfilling life. If you don’t know what that means for you, take some time to figure it out. If your idea of spirituality is to connect with nature, go outside! If Yoga or Mediation is important to you, go do it! If volunteering is your mode of spirituality go volunteer somewhere! If you’re a religious person make sure you are taking time out of your day to connect with God. The more you can connect with your spiritual self the more fulfilled you will feel.
It may be hard to accomplish all eight of these tasks every day but I encourage you to try it for one day and see how it feels. The more often you can accomplish these task the more fulfilled and happy you will feel. Sometimes life will get in the way and that’s ok, just remember you can always come back to these tasks when you realize you need to re-charge.