Happiness is elusive. It’s so close to us sometimes, yet a lot of times we feel as if we are just missing that one thing that would satisfy us on a personal level; we live in relative comfort but we feel unfulfilled and listless at the same time. A relaxed, unconscious, and carefree smile might be something you haven’t seen in yourself or others in a long time.
Not to sound too cynical, but who can blame us? Pew Social Trends reports that 30 percent of people see their job as just a “job to get them by” and that factors like income, education, and age are deeply tied to job satisfaction overall. The Huffington Post reveals that only one-in-three Americans are “very happy.”
Given a clear choice, I doubt that anyone would walk away from the opportunity of a happier and more successful life. You might feel unmotivated, blue, and like there’s nothing going right in your life, but don’t let that stop you from trying to lead a happier life. The first step to starting or accomplishing anything is to actually start, and the same applies to getting the most out of your current life as well.
Like we’ve said in the above, you have to be aware and you have to admit that you’re not happy before you can begin on the path to becoming happier. If you deny that you’re unhappy, you’re also denying any efforts to improve your life in a way that would make you happier because those efforts would contradict your denial. Being able to separate yourself from your emotional state for just a moment and to allow for deep reflection is a skill that’s vital to treating depression, documented in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy: “…metacognitions and mindful attention awareness are two related but separate constructs and that metacognitions emerged as the best predictor of depression.”
Stand up. Go outside and run until your legs give up, do some crunches, or do a few heavy reps as part of a weight lifting routine. Exercise is the holy grail for hypochondriacs, depressed individuals, and other generally unhealthy people.
There’s no room to complain or think negatively when you have a few hundred pounds of weight above your head bench pressing or if you’re in the middle of a fast-paced three-mile run. Don’t believe me? Exercise’s impact on depression is so evident that the Journal of Psychiatric Research simply concludes: “Exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect in people with depression.” It’s an open and shut case – get up and move around.
Stay Regularly Hydrated
Despite how simple this tip sounds, not all of may be drinking adequate amounts of water since dehydration often occurs before thirst. The CDC notes that “Men’s average total water intake per day was approximately 0.25 L less than the recommended adequate intake, whereas women’s intake was approximately the same as the adequate intake.” While CDC also specifies that men should have about 3.7 liters of water intake and women should have 2.7 liters per day, the amount varies greatly depending on your weight and physical activity, so you may want to take these factors into account.
Pull Yourself Out of Debt
If you have something like student loan debts or debts leftover from your car or house, they’ll likely be nagging at the corner of your mind, bringing down your general day-to-day mood. Debt hurts, it’s a fact that’s backed up by observations in Social Science & Medicine that debt-related contributions to depressive symptoms lessen as debt falls and that, “The association between debt and depressive symptoms seems to be driven by non-mortgage debt -primarily consumer credit- or late mortgage payments.” Make credit improvement a priority of yours. If student debt has you feeling down, refinancing your student loans could be a great way to lower your payments and take control of your debt.
Surround Yourself With Enjoyable Company
Bill George of Harvard Business School says that even the best of us aren’t immune from the effects of loneliness: “Many senior executives say the biggest problem they face is not having someone to talk to about their business.” If you’re feeling down, just dialing up your friends and having a few conversations to catch up with them or maybe even hang out can do wonders for your mood.
Talk With Your Significant Other
Piggybacking off the concept of the importance of personal relationships as a panacea for sadness or depression, you may want to try engaging with your spouse or significant other as a means of balancing out and stabilizing your emotional state. The European Journal of Public Health states the impact of strong bonds on emotional outcomes clearly in their research: “Marriage is positively associated with better mental health.”
Devote Time to Thinking About Your Job Satisfaction
Is your job right for you? It’s a question that many Americans probably ask themselves occasionally in their alone time. There are 11.8 million unemployed people and the population of the unemployed is constantly turning over as people try to balance what they want to do and living within their means.
Going abroad as part of a long vacation can really help you discover who you are, what you’re capable of, and what makes you unique in comparison to others. Use travel opportunities to help enrich the perspectives you have about your own personal ability and your role in society. Document your life a little bit as you travel to exotic places so you have those experiences for posterity.