Want to lift your level of happiness? Here are some practical suggestions from University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. Satisfaction or at least a temporary boost, is guaranteed!
Count your blessings
Gratitude list or journal. Make a list of everything and everyone for whom you are grateful. Write until you run out of things to write about. Then I recommend you do two things with this list:
- Keep it handy, in a place where you can regularly see it. We all need the reminder.
- Keep adding to it. This keeps gratitude in the present and the future.
Or, alternatively, in your gratitude journal, write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful — from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.
Practice acts of kindness/Gratitude action
In addition to those mentioned above, what actions can you take on a consistent basis to demonstrate your gratitude? How can you demonstrate that you understand that “yours is a life of great privilege”? In a tough economy, in any economy, there are always those who have it tougher than you. What actions can you take on a regular basis to help out? It’s a great way to model gratitude for your children, too.
These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbour). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects — it makes you feel generous and capable,gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness — all happiness boosters.
An idea for Christmas presents is to forfeit them. “Am I crazy?” you ask. Get your family to agree to it beforehand and instead buy gifts for the less fortunate and, as a family, deliver them on Christmas morning.
Savour life’s joys/Mindfulness
Pay close attention(be mindful) of all of your experiences from momentary pleasures and wonders to the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
Thank a mentor
If there’s someone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation — in detail and, if possible, in person.
- Gratitude call. Call someone to whom you are grateful. Tell them specifically what you are grateful for and the difference they have made in your life.
- Gratitude email. Email someone to whom you are grateful. Having it in writing means much. I have printed out emails that thanked me for certain things. Some are on the wall in my office, some are in a file. They are great reminders.
- Gratitude letter. Remember letters? They still exist. They still work. And they make quite an impression in this world of easy and instant communication. They can become someone’s treasures
Learn to forgive
Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.
Invest time and energy in friends and family
Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.
Take care of your body
Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practised regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.
Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships/Build your resilience
There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. The trick is that you have to believe them.
Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours if you want to discuss this or any other wellbeing matter. Call us on 0861872862 or email us at
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