Getting a promotion, losing weight, buying a house or quitting smoking — was one of this your last year’s New Year resolution? While most people want to be happier and more at peace with their life, very few actually give it the attention it deserves and focus more on goals like career and money. Loneliness, anxiety, depression are today plaguing the urban population and psychologists believe just making the resolve to make your life happier and focus on your personal well-being can be a starting step to a more fulfiling life. So, this year whatever else be your resolution, add ‘being happy’ to the list.
And to help you make positive changes and start off on the journey towards a happier life, we reached out to three experts — Anshula Verma, happiness coach, Dr Saloni Singh, happiness and life coach and Rachna Muralidhar, psychologist and outreach associate, MPower, Bengaluru, who dole out easy-to-implement, simple and highly effective steps to lead a more contented and fulfiling life.
Make your happiness a priority. Take a few minutes to do something that will make you happy, whether it is spending time with your child or listening to your favourite music. Think about what gives you joy and ensure you take some time out for it every day. “People often say I’ll get that promotion, then I’ll be happy. Happiness isn’t a goal to be achieved at a later date. Make it a priority today and things will change,” says Dr Singh.
Find out what really matters to you. Analysing and understanding what it is that is really important to you will help you then make it a priority, which will lead to overall better satisfaction from life. “There are people who tell me that their family is the most important to them but they don’t have time to spend with their family. That’s when one needs to stop and think, why is one working so hard to not be able to do what is most important to him or her,” says Dr Singh.
Draw boundaries at work. Many people focus on just one aspect of their life and have no time or energy left for any other aspect. “For many people today, work and career is the biggest part of life. It is not possible to feel satisfied with life, if you forget about all the other facets of your life. It is important to draw boundaries at work, define shut off time to make time for other aspects of your life that are important to you,” says Muralidhar.
Don’t define success and happiness according to others or society. Different things make different people happy. So without worrying about whether you have climbed the career ladder or have as much money as your friends, define your success by only what you want in your life and what makes you happy.
Have healthy relationships. Social media is today replacing the need for human to human contact which has debilitating effects. Humans have emotional needs which are met through healthy relationships. So instead of spending time on social media looking for validation from strangers, one needs to switch off and spend time building on their real relationships.
Find the source of your stresses. If you feel stressed about work or about a relationship, find out what the real problem is and deal with only that. “Look at what really happened and what needs to be done. Don’t build a story around it. And you’ll realise that there is nothing to be stressed about. There’s only an incident or an action needed,” says Verma.
It is important to take a look at one’s own thoughts. “Am I being pessimistic or negative? My thoughts guide my actions. So learning slowly to regulate one’s thoughts can help one tread on the path to a more positive life. One’s personal growth leads to higher satisfaction from life,” says Muralidhar. It’s important to remove negative thoughts that prevent you from being happy. “They may be fear, expectations or even your ego. Once you identify what makes you happy and remove the negative aspects that prevent you from achieving it, your life will be more peaceful,” says Verma.
Focus on your physical well-being. This means follow a well-balanced, healthy diet, sleep well and get adequate exercise.
Take care of your mental well-being. Don’t watch the phone before you go to bed or just after you wake up. Don’t take in too much media that affects you negatively. Watch, read and listen to positive things. “Taking care of your metal diet is as important as your physical diet,” says Dr Singh.
The need to be happy is innate. “All you need to do is rekindle that innate desire,” says Muralidhar.