“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur Ashe
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
You dream of a life where you have more freedom—your work nourishes your mind and soul, your home is organized, and you have ample time to exercise and eat right.
It’s not that your current situation is awful, but you long to do more of the things you love. Yet when you contemplate radical changes, your heart rate quickens, and you convince yourself it’s just not the right time.
So you keep waiting for the big moment when you can make that big change that will lead to happiness.
Well, you’re wasting your time …
Our ability to feel happier comes from inside ourselves, not from external circumstances. You don’t need to quit your job, move to an exotic location, or lose weight to be happy. You can embody happiness right now.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at aligning my life activities with my purpose.
I teach at my own yoga studio. I assumed this would make me happy 100 percent of the time, but I get derailed sometimes. I ruminate about the small things like our cluttered house and the endless details of running a yoga studio. I forget the big picture. I forget all that I have. I get grumpy and start to nitpick.
I have to catch myself and find my happiness from within again. It might take a few minutes, hours, or days, but I use these mini-habits to help me get there. They cost little to nothing and are portable.
No matter your situation, you can start right now. The following habits will help you stand a little taller, smile from your heart, and shine a little brighter.
For Your Mind
1. Breathe deeply.
Inhale deeply, and exhale completely ten times. Deep breathing slows your thoughts, relaxes your nervous system, and brings you closer to your own intuition.
2. Use a mantra to change your mind-set.
Sha is a Sanskrit root word meaning peace, as in “shanti.” Say “sham” slowly ten to twenty times. By combining sound, breath, and rhythm, mantra channels the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit and calms your nervous system and mind.
3. Zone out.
Spend a few minutes daydreaming. Your logical mind, the prefrontal cortex, is constantly planning, analyzing, and thinking about the future. Give it a rest and just be for a little while; you’ll feel refreshed.
4. Express your love.
Write a note or tell a loved one how you appreciate them. Communicating positive emotions lowers stress hormones, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure, and it strengthens immunity.
5. Rejuvenate your mind.
Close your eyes for a few moments. What do you see in the darkness of your mind’s eye? Notice the patterns that form. This is a simple meditation that rejuvenates and refocuses your tired mind.
6. Explore healing aromas.
Plants like rosemary, lavender, and sage can improve our moods. Create your own natural spa. Put your favorite essential oils in a spray bottle with a little water.
7. Swap a thought.
Make a list of your positive traits and attributes. When you criticize yourself, refer to this list. Keep this pattern up and you’ll transform your inner dialogue.
8. Allow yourself to be.
Accept all your feelings about your present situation. They are valid, whether you like them or not. Accepting your current situation is the first step to feeling happier.
9. Loving-kindness meditation.
Loving-kindness builds positive emotions, which increases mindfulness and purpose in life. Spend a few minutes letting feelings of love and kindness for someone wash over you.
When thoughts come, return to your breath without judging. Deep breathing clears your mind and decreases your stress levels, which will allow you to feel happier.
11. Declutter one spot.
Declutter one surface or area. Starting small is easier. But when your home and workspace are clear from clutter, your mind feels more spacious.
For Your Body
12. Lighten up.
Once a day, laugh at yourself. When you make a mistake, see the humor in your error. Laughing is great medicine, it improves your mood, and it relieves stress and tension.
13. Stretch your body.
Sitting in a chair? Push away from your desk. Inhale, and as you exhale, bend forward, moving your ribs toward your thighs. Breathe deeply. Get out of your mind and into your body and the present moment.
14. Stretch your breath.
Hold onto the back of your chair and take slow, long breaths. This opens up your rib cage and lungs, allowing you to breathe more deeply. The added oxygen to your brain will make you feel alive and alert.
15. Give yourself a massage.
Use coconut oil or sesame oil on your skin, massage it on your whole body, and then take a warm shower to help your skin absorb the oil. This is a home spa treatment that is used all over India. Touch is calming, and you can reap its benefits without buying expensive massages.
16. Take a bath.
Relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of a warm bath. Light some candles and put on your favorite music. Soothe your body with this simple ritual. Why dream about getting away when you can create a calming environment in your home?
17. Place your palms over your eyelids.
This relaxes your eyes and mind. This is especially helpful if you have a headache or feel fatigued.
18. Practice Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep).
Take ten minutes to relax your whole body completely and then each part of your body in turn. This magical practice is as efficient as taking a longer nap.
19. Eat with complete attention.
Put away all your screens. Savor your meal by noticing all its tastes and textures. You’ll improve your digestion and feel more relaxed as a result.
20. Move every day.
Even if you have very little time. You only need five minutes to stretch or walk outside. Building a little movement into your day is better for your health than one longer weekly workout.
21. Hug someone or something.
Like your friend, pet, or even yourself. Soothing touch is relaxing and calming.
For Your Spirit
22. Stop and pay attention.
Are birds chirping? Horns blasting? Voices passing? Notice your world right now and see the beauty that is unfolding under your nose. You’ll feel a little better about your situation.
23. Make a mini-gratitude list.
What are three things from the past twenty-four hours that can go on your list? Making gratitude a permanent trait is proven to make us happier and healthier, and live longer.
24. Give thanks for your meals.
Saying thanks for having enough will remind you of how much you have. Remember that eight million people don’t have enough food to lead a healthy, active life.
25. Get outside and unplug.
Spend time outdoors without your digital devices. Notice the small details of your surroundings—the flowers, the trees, even the small ants on the sidewalk. You’ll feel peaceful and calm as a result.
26. Spend time with friends.
Socializing is a secret of the world’s longest-lived people. Set a weekly meeting. Go for a walk, drink tea, or simply enjoy each others’ presence.
When people talk, listen to them. Be 100 percent present with your company and you’ll get their appreciation in return.
28. Love your furry friends.
They can be our best friends and show undying loyalty. Spending time petting a dog can improve your mood and even strengthen your heart.
29. Find a beautiful natural thing around you.
Pick a flower, leaf, twig, or fruit. Remind yourself of all the natural wonders that surround you right now. It’s easy to overlook the beauty in the present moment.
30. Take a mini-vacation.
Once a week, I take my toddler and dog to the park for a picnic lunch. We relax and listen to the birds. Leave your busy life for a few moments to be with loved ones who are crucial to your happiness.
31. Give a little bit.
Carry canned food for people asking for food. Make eye contact. Recognize the common human spirit in every person you meet, right in your neighborhood.
The Secret That Holds The Key To Your Happiness
Your happiness isn’t dependent on where you live, how much you weigh, or what you do for work. The key to happiness is appreciating what you have at this moment. Sure, we all want to make changes sometimes. But one change, no matter how big, is unlikely to transform misery into elation.
Small things that help you appreciate yourself, your loved ones, and the world around you will add up to big changes in your mindset.
Pick a couple practices from each category. Write them down. Post them on your mirror so that you remind yourself each morning.
Schedule the activities in your calendar. Even if they take five minutes, this daily reminder will prompt your memory.
And don’t forget to inhale the sweet fragrance of the jasmine that is blooming right under your nose.
Ahh, doesn’t it smell delicious?