Happiness is a desire as universal as our want for food or oxygen. But that state of contentedness is not always an easy one to achieve. Some people pay money to experience it. But they still fall short of it. It’s rarely found in big moments/holidays — those memorable experiences you can only afford once or twice a year.
Everyday can’t be blissful but we can make everyday good by doing little things. Happiness isn’t made up of big moments, it’s made up of many small moments brought together. It’s very personal and subtle. Happiness is different for everyone. While what makes us all happy varies, noticing the little details of life can make you smile every day.
“An effective route to happiness is not necessarily through experiencing major events that we might have planned out such as getting married, moving house, getting that all-important promotion, or even being on a holiday,” says Dr. Glenn Williams, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University.
She adds, “Rather it is the small, and often unexpected, pleasures in life that can make us smile each and every day to help us build happier and more meaningful lives for ourselves and for others.”
Many people are too busy to notice the little things and opportunities for happiness. Taking time to recognize even the smallest actions around you can help you see life from a different perspective. When life is intense, you lose a sense of the present moment and worry too much about what’s ahead of you.
To experience true happiness in the overlooked details, you must be willing to be disturbed, surprised, or wrong in your assumptions. The things that happen unexpectedly tend to be the things bringing the biggest amount of happiness. “Happiness may be with us, baked into our present moment, eagerly awaiting our grateful acknowledgment, but nothing is less likely to make us happy than trying to pursue it,” argues Jonathan Rowson of The New York Times. Happiness is everywhere if you look close enough.
People Are Happier When They Talk to Strangers
Smile, or better yet, strike up a conversation with a stranger when you have a few minutes or during your commute. Nobody appreciates unwanted attention, but you will be surprised by the response if you make the attempt with good intentions.
Behavioral scientists say initiating positive interactions strangers evokes higher happiness levels in both parties. It’s a guaranteed win-win. “…simply reaching out to a fellow human being to say hello may be better received than people realize. Few start a conversation with a stranger, but most seem happy to talk if you reach out with good intentions,” writes Nicholas Epley & Juliana Schroeder, Behavioural scientists.
As uncomfortable as they may be, interactions with strangers can expose you to new perspectives that could add meaningful experiences to your life. Choose to acknowledge someone else with your attention the next time you deem it fit to start a conversation with a stranger.
Make Friends and Family a Priority
Busy lives can get in the way of happiness. Something as simple as replacing screen time with people’s time can improve your mood. One of the longest-running studies on living happily by the Harvard Study of Adult Development emphasizes the importance of relationships.
According to the researchers, people who maintain meaningful friendships even in retirement are happier than those who leave work and place less emphasis on maintaining strong social networks.
Make time to spend quality time with your family — enjoy the conversations, hugs, cuddles, laughter, meals, etc. You don’t need a long break from work to make time for the people you care about. Enjoy your mornings and evenings together — be more present. Maintain social relationships outside your family. If you can’t spend quality time with friends in person, plan a few long phone conversations with time and
Watch the Sun Rise
I admire sunsets and sunrises. It happens 365 days a year. It doesn’t cost anything to watch a sunrise. How often do you make a point of seeing it? Sunrise is a magnificent time of day. It’s the best of day to experience quiet moments of stillness and reflection.
Watching the sunrise is one of the best ways to lift your mood. These daily experiences can awaken something dormant in you— pausing to reflect, and a reminder to breathe, all of which seemed to lead to a better day.
Spend More Time Outside
Modern life makes it pretty standard to spend more time inside — away from nature — than outside in it. People are happiest in nature. Time spent in nature recharges and invigorates us. It reminds us to slow down. Live louder.
A study has found that spending two hours per week soaking up nature — be it woodland, park or beach — gives a positive boost to health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
The more time we spend in nature, the happier we become. It doesn’t need to be an awe-inspiring canyon. The neighborhood park is natural enough to boost your mood.
Choose Gratitude Over Resentment
For a happier life, carve out time to reflect and be more grateful. The concept of gratitude has existed for centuries, but it was only in 2007 that Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, scientifically demonstrated the associations that exist between gratitude and enhanced mental, physical and relational well-being.
Research shows that the frequency of small, positive experiences has a greater impact on our life satisfaction than a few epic events of achievements. People who are grateful feel better about themselves and their lives, and they also show higher levels of happiness.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. Gratitude is a practice, not a destination. Like any skill worth mastering, gratitude takes practice.
Wake up each day ready to take those “small steps” toward your happiness — take good actions, no matter how small to boost your mood. Every little experience counts. Don’t let the bigger picture steer you away from the small enjoyments of life. Welcome any opportunity to smile — No boundaries, no limits, no restrictions.
This article originally appeared on Medium.