Life isn’t a book or a movie and the fairy tale happily-ever-after endings are just rubbish, right? Yes and no. Magical thinking is a nice escape from the ordinary. But real change in real time takes work. Fortunately, you don’t need a tremendous amount of grit and muscle to change your life for the better.
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said it best: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Whether you sprint, gallop or attempt a baby step, the only thing mandated is a starting point when you want to live a happier life. Here are 10 secrets to help you script your own version of a Hollywood movie.
1. Hang up your night owl role. If the early bird actually gets the worm or not may be debatable. But here’s something to chirp about: The early bird may be happier, one study on mood and happiness reveals. Set your alarm clock accordingly; all it takes is turning your alarm clock back one minute earlier each morning while building up to an earlier wake-up call.
2. Java it up. Despite its shaky reputation a few years back, coffee is redefined as the electrifying wonder bean on the horizon, and we’re not talking about a welcomed caffeine buzz here. When it comes to better physical and emotional well-being, a Harvard scientist has put coffee to the 40-year test and you can’t help but perk up and take notice of the results.
3. Be honest, are you thinking, ‘Screw this happily-ever-after post. Nonsense. Pure nonsense.’? Now, try this test: Smile! Fake a smile. Researchers have found that even when we aren’t happy, the mere act of smiling lifts our mood. Consider sticking a few smiley faces around your home and work area as a daily reminder.
4. Money does buy happiness–especially when we spend it on others. Since we are social creatures, it makes sense that when we buy gifts for others we invest in our own happy bank account. The power of the purchase has been measured by researchers and the results might inspire you to open up your wallet and let the moths fly merrily around.
5. Exercise. Study after study, the results prove how endorphines, the good-feeling thingamajig in the brain, are triggered when you move your body. Don’t think in terms of marathon levels; just 20 minutes a day can turn the happy switch on for hours on end.
6. Got bad thoughts? Write them down on paper. And have a rip-roaring time of ripping them up into smithereens. Sounds simplistic? Perhaps, but a study conducted by the University of Madrid found that this write-trash-to-trash strategy is effective. Sharpen the pencil!
7. You are blessed…remembering that concept is a blessing. Whether you keep a running gratitude list on paper or in your head or send regular gratitude tweets, there is mounting evidence that proves the benefits of possessing an attitude of gratitude. A good mantra to remind you of this on a daily basis is: “Thank you!”
8. Generally, it’s a bad idea to eat yourself happy. However in one interesting study, chocolate breaks the bad rap of emotional eating; so go ahead and have a bit, meaning, in moderation, of sweets. You never knew happiness could taste so good, did you?
9. Happiness is contagious. This idea not only makes sense but it’s been tested too. It’s a no-brainer: Stop fraternizing with people who drag your spirits down. Think of it like the common cold. Do you want to catch bad-mood germs? Or catch spirited fun? Choose wisely, your sunny disposition will thank you.
10. How serious is it? Seriously, if, for example, you are running 10 minutes late for an appointment, is it really the end of the world? Of course not. Put things in perspective. Learn to make a joke out of life’s little mishaps. Life, after all, is about ups and downs. The faster you learn to coast through the waves, the smoother the ride. Why would you fret about life when you can live it for what it is–an adventure? After all, you want to leave room for the happily-ever-after part, right?