We often believe the arrival of certain things – more money, the perfect partner, a better job, bigger house or new car – will make us happier. But Harvard psychologist and author of the New York Times best-selling book, Stumbling On Happiness, Dan Gilbert says our brains constantly misjudge what really makes us happy.
In fact, studies have shown it’s the little things that make the biggest difference to how we feel and function. Being happy is actually a lot like exercise. It takes discipline and daily effort. But if you do the work, you reap the rewards.
We can strengthen our happiness muscles daily by adopting simple, healthy habits that make us feel better. Happiness is not an emotion that just magically happens. It’s state of mind you can create.
Here are three ways to start cultivating your own self-renewable supply.
Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning. The Japanese call this “ikigai”. In Hindu, it’s called dharma. Knowing our purpose and feeling needed helps us connect with our communities.
But sometimes we say yes to doing more than we can manage, with studies showing people who are time-pressured report feeling less happy. We encourage you to prioritise things that matter most to you, like your health and studies. And, wherever you can, practice saying no to the things you say yes to out of obligation. It’s always a good idea to stay on track, focused and happiness will follow with success.
It can sometimes feel like a challenge while you’re doing it. But a runner’s high is real. Exercise releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins that trigger positive feelings and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which calms our nervous system.
Countless studies have proven exercise makes us feel better, reduces tension, boosts our energy and improves our body image. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week or five, 30-minute sessions. Or just break it up into 10-minute bursts whenever you can fit it in. Every little bit counts.
The good bacteria that live in our gut produce many of the neurotransmitters that affect our moods including 80 to 90 percent of our happy hormone, serotonin. To make key neurochemicals we need a diet rich in whole foods including complex carbohydrates (from whole grains and starchy vegetables), amino acids (mostly from lean protein), antioxidants and phytonutrients (from plant foods), vitamins, minerals such as folate (found in leafy greens and legumes) and essential fatty acids (from oily fish, nuts and extra virgin olive oil).
Understanding this relationship between healthy eating and mood will not only benefit yourself, but your future clients as a Personal Trainer.
Which habits will you start implementing into your daily routine?