“Happiness requires problems, plus a mental attitude that is ready to meet distress with action toward a solution.”
– H. L. Hollingworth
How do you view problems?
For much of my life, I was burdened by my own thinking. I saw problems as something negative that happened to me.
It was only when I started viewing problems as a creative, positive, and necessary challenge that my life got substantially less stressful and happier.
Changing the way I thought and deciding to embrace problems with the mental attitude of solution-focused ACTION leads to more success.
THE MINDSET OF HAPPINESS
Happiness is a mindset.
By focusing on what is possible and seeing our problems and struggles as vital to our journey, we can become happier, and from there, success flows.
It’s as simple as deciding to see things differently. Problems are not burdens. They are growth opportunities.
Do I remember to do this every day?
No. I’m far from perfect.
This post is just as much a reminder to me on where I should be directing my energies.
However, today, I don’t see happiness as something to attain, but rather a choice, a far better mindset than feeling shitty.
Some days are shitty.
Some YEARS are shitty. (2020, I’m talking to you!)
But dwelling on the shittiness of an event, person, issue, or year never did anyone any good.
What will you choose to focus on in 2021?
Beyond perspective, there are many other ways to increase happiness in your life that don’t involve getting a promotion, getting married, or buying a house.
MORE TIPS TO BOOST HAPPINESS QUICKLY
Perspective is a solid start to switch on happiness.
Here are five other simple things you can do today, back by science – because you know I love science.
EXERCISE FOR JUST 10 MINUTES
Okay, so this takes a bit longer than five mins. However, not as long as you think!
The Journal of Happiness Studies Review notes that as little as 10-min physical activity per week or 1 day of doing exercise per week might increase happiness levels.
We all know exercise is a powerful mood booster, but we forget just how effective it is.
A 2020 study found that college students “meeting physical activity guidelines were more likely to report greater overall health and higher mental health and happiness scores compared with their inactive peers.”
If you’re interested in starting a new exercise routine this year (and increasing your overall happiness), I can help with online fitness training!
TAKE A POWER NAP
Twenty minutes is optional for maximum catnap results, but even lying down to shut your eyes and relax for 5 minutes can improve your mood.
If you have the time to add in a longer nap, an afternoon siesta for 20-30 minutes can help even more!
This study found that those who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative emotions yet more responsive to positive ones. Obviously, getting good sleep is also key, but a nap will do the trick too.
High life satisfaction is associated with the presence of friendship shown by this study on social relations and life satisfaction and the role of friendship.
It is also important to note that the correlation was increased with high-quality characteristics of support, reciprocity, and intimacy. So yeah, shitty friends don’t count, duh.
An individual’s personality traits also affect happiness. The study’s data suggested, “an individual’s high satisfaction with facets of their life (economic, health and family relationships, and free time) correlates to a higher life satisfaction.” So again, perspective is key here.
In five minutes, you could call a friend, reach out to schedule a Zoom call, or text them to say you are thinking of them.
The act of smiling can drastically boost happiness, and it takes very little time. But here’s the trick, it has to be a genuine smile based on real feelings.
This 2001 study by Michigan State University explained that, if you “smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital,” you will improve your mood, versus forced, fake smiling, which can lead to exhaustion and withdrawal.
GET A DOSE OF NATURE
It turns out getting daily sun, nature, and breeze also makes us happier. Specifically, beaches, mountains, forests, and farms – in that order, as this study reported. No wonder houses by the beach cost more.
Money can’t buy happiness directly, but it can buy you a house by the beach, and if you don’t have money for a house with an ocean view, any outdoor non-urban setting will do for a quick happiness boost.
While you can’t go for a nature hike in five minutes, you could plan a day outside for yourself or research new places near you to explore.
BY SOMEONE A GIFT
This study found evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Meaning if you spend money on someone else versus yourself, you are happier, and in turn, this increase in happiness spurs you to gift things more, so you keep getting happier from your pro-social spending.
If you’re like me, buying something online takes much longer than five minutes because I insist on researching all options.
However, in just a few minutes, you could make a list of things your loved ones might like to receive, or you can research charities that allow you to purchase things for those in need.
SET A HAPPINESS HABIT GOAL
There are so many ways to increase your happiness that doesn’t involve busting your butt for a bigger paycheck, getting to a goal weight, or landing the “perfect” partner.
If you’re thinking of a simple New Years Goal, anyone from the list above can help you create a positive snowball effect of good habits for a happier life.
Michigan State University (Feb 22, 2011). For a better workday, smile like you mean it. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2011/for-a-better-workday-smile-like-you-mean-it/
Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being, 13(2), 347–355. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9267-5
George MacKerron, Susana Mourato, Volume 23, Issue 5, (2013). Happiness is greater in natural environments, Global Environmental Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.03.010.
Amati, V., Meggiolaro, S., Rivellini, G. et al. Social relations, and life satisfaction: the role of friends. Genus 74, 7 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-018-0032-z
Murphy MH, Carlin A, Woods C, Nevill A, MacDonncha C, Ferguson K, Murphy N. Active Students Are Healthier and Happier Than Their Inactive Peers: The Results of a Large Representative Cross-Sectional Study of University Students in Ireland. J Phys Act Health. (Oct 2018) do: 10.1123/jpah.2017-0432
Zhang, Z., Chen, W. A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness. J Happiness Stud 20, 1305–1322 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-9976-0
Ninad Gujar, Steven Andrew McDonald, Masaki Nishida, Matthew P. Walker, A Role for REM Sleep in Recalibrating the Sensitivity of the Human Brain to Specific Emotions, Cerebral Cortex, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 115-123, https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhq064