Here at Hygge Central, otherwise known as MinxNY, we consider ourselves experts on the subject of happiness. Are we positively giddy 24/7? Nah. But between Karaoke sessions, the smell of lavender socks wafting the halls, and the company philosophy of taking time for fun and pleasure, we do OK in the well-being department. But, let’s face it, none of us is mood perfect. So, here on the occasion of Happiness Happens Day on August 8 (but good all year ‘round), the top ten things you can do to put a smile on that face right now:
1. Focus on others.
Being wrapped up in external approval and your own success is never a recipe for mood success. Look outward. Volunteer, tie your achievement to how well you help others and make a difference and you’ll soon find your self-esteem naturally soaring. The sweet spot for donating your time to others? 100 hours a year or about 2 hours of volunteering per week seems most beneficial. Get giving!
2. Just do it.
Keeping busy is always advised, but many of us are afraid to dive right in (start that business, write that book, take up that hobby) for fear of not doing it exactly right. Put perfectionism on permanent hiatus and try stuff, make mistakes and live your life in a full, if flawed, way. Tomorrow, those missteps will be forgotten and meanwhile, precious time is being wasted on worrying!
3. Sleep more.
Taking action is good, but sometimes you need to slow it down, waaay down. In The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, her eye-opening (pardon the pun) book, Arianna Huffington calls our collective lack of z’s “the specter haunting the industrialized world.” A full 40% of us are sleep-deprived. So, make sleep a priority for a no-brainer way to get happier stat.
4. Have close friends.
You need a core group of close peeps with whom you can discuss your problems and issues, all agree. But the exact number of best buddies required is under debate. Is it five? Is it ten? Don’t sweat the science stuff. The point is to cherish and nourish your friendships. They’re excellent for your mental well-being.
5. Treat yourself regularly.
Another one straight out of the Hygge handbook: Turns out, it’s not the big stuff that makes us happy, but rather frequent, regular, mini-moments of joy and pleasure that do the trick. So, think a fun day at the beach or a home spa day versus a month-long trip to France, or some scented cute slipper socks, versus a new sports car.
It doesn’t have to be much, but getting moving can really move your mood up. In fact, even without visible changes in your body, exercise is shown to beat medication for relieving depression by more than 25%. And you don't have to be strictly depressed for it to pay to be active. Just 10 minutes a day is happier than nothing.
7. Go outside.
Part of this has to do with the known effects of nature on stress. It’s totally positive! (You don't even have to leave your house to benefit: Studies show an artificial plant can boost mood.) But another aspect is: temperature! A 2011 study by the American Meteorological Society showed that we feel happiest at a chilly 57 degrees. We’re cool with that!
8. Copy a happy person.
Be a savvy happiness consumer. Interview those who've done activities before you to find out if they'll please you. Ask happy people you know about their habits. You’ll soon discover patterns (friends, sleep, exercise) for you to emulate.
9. Think clean thoughts.
Fake it till you make it! It’s called mental hygiene and it’s basically banishing negative thoughts. It’s been shown that smiling (even when you’re miserable) actually makes you feel better. Practicing gratitude and fostering forgiveness are all part of clean thinking too.
10. Get older.
While the body may struggle, middle aged and older people are in the best mental shape of their lives. Older people actively seek out situations and people that boost satisfaction and remember situations in a more positive light than the young. So, simply by doing nothing but aging, you’re giving yourself a better shot at less stress. Hey, that’s good news we can all age gracefully by!