40% of your happiness is influenced by intrinsic factors, these are things you have control over such as your relationships with others, your career, your hobbies, the activities you engage in and your overall outlook on life. You are more likely to reach your full potential in life if you are happy and positive, so let’s look at some easy ways to increase your everyday happiness and overall quality of life. These 5 things may seem so simple but trust me, they make a world of difference!
Nourish – Eat whole foods, specifically those high in the amino acid tryptophan. Avoid foods that contain sugars dairy and gluten as they can cause problems with digestion, the liver and your hormones. Tryptophan rich foods include nuts, seeds, whole grains, seaweed, spinach, broccoli, beans and mushrooms! Although a lot of animal products are high in tryptophan this particular source dosen’t cross the brain barrier, all the more reason to eat plant based!
Move – Exercising gives a natural and almost instant boost of energy and endorphins, promoting richer health, clearer thoughts and a more restorative sleep. Just 20 minutes of exercise 3 days a week for 6 months can increase your happiness levels by 10-20%. Daily exercise shoudnt have to mean long and tiring hours spent in the gym, just figure out whatever works for you and stick to it. Melbourne has so many beautiful yoga/pilates studios, walking tracks and bike trails there is literally something for everyone!
Connect – Relationships are one of, if not most meaningful contributors to happiness. Strong social bonds don’t only increase happiness levels and lower the risk of depression but can also significantly increase life expectancy and immunity. Unfortunately to many of us suffer from the third world epidemic of being ‘to busy’ and as a result of it our relationships suffer. If this is the case for you, you should mark out time in your calendar specifically for social activities and honour it like you would a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting. If you’re feeling a lack of connection in your life right now make a list of 5 people you would love to spend more time with and find a way to incorporate a catch up with them into your schedule (extra points if you can make it a regular occurrence), you can even try and include them in something you already do i.e. exercising and eating, invite a friend to join you for lunch or catch up over a walk.
Think positive – Having a positive frame of mind can change how you perceive your whole life unfortunately the same goes for a negative frame of mind. This is why cultivating positive thoughts is so important and worthwhile. Fortunately, there are a few exercises you can do to increase the amount of positive thoughts you have. Some of my personal favourite exercises to cultivate positive thinking are practicing gratitude, writing reverse bucket lists and goal setting.
Sleep – I think everyone has experienced the effect that a bad night’s sleep can have on your mood making you irritable and grumpy. Research has proven that the quality and quantity of sleep we have directly impacts our happiness and health with poor sleep patterns increasing the risk of weight gain, diabetes and stroke dramatically. The national sleep foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night, how many of us are actually hitting this target? Apparently not many! To promote a restful night’s sleep you should decrease your caffeine consumption (thank god for specialty lattes!) and ensure that your bedroom is a sanctuary reserved only for sleep!