The Four Things I Do Each Day to be Happier
Steal one or more of these ideas to increase the happiness in your life
The province I live in announced there would be further lockdowns. They are limiting social gatherings. They are limiting the capacity at malls. I understand the restrictions, and that they are there for the greater health of the population. But I can’t help but feel slightly depressed. Saddened even.
For one thing, people aren’t following the rules. I recently saw a group of protestors on the side of the highway who were gathered together but were not wearing masks.
And for another, this will mean longer lines and greater frustration among people who want to get what they want (e.g., at grocery stores) and get out of there as quickly as possible.
But despite all these lockdowns, there is a bright side to the day. And I increase my happiness just a bit by doing the following five things every day:
When I was younger, weeks, even months would go by until I cracked open a book to read. It wasn’t a habit of mine. And then when I got a smartphone, I spent a lot of my time playing video games or watching YouTube videos to pass the time.
Who cared about books and what I could learn from them.
All that changed when I read somewhere that ‘there is a correlation between successful people and reading’. This wasn’t a cause and effect, it was an observation that a lot of the most successful people also are readers. From that point on, I did a bit of reading each day. I borrowed books from the library. I got a Kindle for my birthday and started purchasing books every day. Every time I visit a new city, I visit the used bookstores and buy a copious amount of books. It’s gotten out of hand, but I think it is well worth the investment.
One author I have gotten into recently if you are looking for something exciting to read: Douglas E. Richards. I am slowly going through his books, but I really enjoyed Quantum Lens and Split Second. And if you are looking for something non-fiction, I enjoyed No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer and Time Smart by Ashley Whillans.
At the end of the day, I pull out two journals: one is my quick journal, where I jot down three things I’m grateful for, and how I worked towards my dreams today. And the other is my lengthy journal, where I devote at least one page to writing about my day: my feelings, my thoughts, my worries, my successes, my failures, my meals, and whether I exercised.
There is something about the act of writing as a tool to help me process things. When I was laid off at the beginning of the year, I wrote several day’s entries devoted to the subject. I wrote about how I felt. I wrote about why I felt that way. I wrote about what the positives were in the situation. It wasn’t easy, but it helped me get through the situation and out the other side.
Journaling can help make your negatives, well, less negative. And it can help you reflect on your successes and happiness, and relive that in the future. When I have a bad day, I like to look through my entries and stop on a day where I felt really great. I read through my thoughts and feelings, and what I did that day, and it helps me remember that not all days are bad.
I don’t need to tell you about the benefits of exercising. Obviously, you can get in better shape. You can prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse. It improves your sleep, heart health, and mental health.
I like doing quick exercises in the afternoons. It’s when I usually get tired, or bored, or hungry. I have strategically placed a pull-up bar in my home office’s doorway and told myself that every time I go through the door, I have to do 5 pull-ups. It’s not a lot, but it is something that adds up over time. If I pass through the door at least 10 times, that’s 50 pull-ups! And in two work weeks, that’s 500 pull-ups!
Whether it’s pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, or just simple stretches, there are many exercises you can do in five minutes that will improve your energy, mood, and happiness.
Get a good night’s rest
I might not be able to control how well a day goes. I might not be able to control whether I make dumb mistakes at work. I might not even be able to control how colleagues act towards me. But the one thing I can control is whether I am well-rested for the day. And the way I do that is by getting a good night’s rest. All great days are framed by what you do at night.
What do I do?
- Get to bed early
- Nothing strenuous three hours before bedtime
- No screens three hours before bedtime
- No food or drink three hours (or more) before bedtime
- Light reading (fiction) in bed
- Jotting down tasks I need to do the next day to clear my head
Every one of these helps me get a good night’s rest and I swear by them every day.
What I do might not make you happier. And if that’s the case, I think you missed the point of this article. The point is that everybody has a set of routines and habits that can help ground them. For some, it’s yoga or meditation. For others, it’s reading and writing. Whatever you do every day, make the time for it. Prioritize and schedule it. And if you skip a day (god forbid), then be sure you will do it the next day.
These are the habits that make me grounded and happy — what’s your routine?