We often think that it’s the big goals in life that will make us happy – such as a promotion, more money, less weight, a bigger home, a vacation or a new relationship. Often we find ourselves frustrated working on these goals, and if we finally reach one of them we nevertheless tend to feel empty again soon after.
So what does make us happy? Here are some ideas that can help you feel happier. Just to be clear: it is a lot more work to be happy than to be sad! It does require some (actually a lot) of work as it is necessary for us to make decisions and changes in our life. This can be a little intimidating. If you don’t know where to start or how to go about it, see if the below ideas can be an inspiration to begin with. Or come for a session/treatment that may help you let go off some of that old baggage that you have been carrying with you for all this time. If you carry less weight, it might feel a little easier to make some first changes.
1. A fulfilling job: one that meets your requirements. Whatever that means for you. For one person a job might be merely a way to earn the money necessary to do the things he or she likes. This is perfectly fine! It serves the purpose to allow you to find fulfilment in your spare time. We don’t need to be all in time and energy-consuming, high paying positions with a big pay-cheque. How about doing a job that you truly enjoy, even though it might mean a simpler lifesyle? Look for a job that makes YOU happy! If you come home grumpy every night because your colleague / boss / customer did xyz (same story as the previous day and the day before), maybe it is time to consider a change? Sometimes earning less money will buy you a lot more freedom and not rarely, as a result, also better health due to less chronic stress, and to finally have the time and energy to do the things you enjoy or would like to experience. For the brave ones, it might maybe even mean an entire career change. That’s ok too! It’s also ok if you need several years to prepare for this change. The other day I listened to a podcast about an old man who at age 96 decided to make wine and he ended up becoming a very successful winemaker! What an inspiration to not feel too old to start something new!
2. Regular exercise: We probably all know it – regular exercise lowers our stress levels and increases the production of the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. People who exercise regularly have a stronger immune system and higher libido (up to 30% more than couch potatoes!). If we feel healthier and more attractive we usually also feel happier! Each time we rush or feel stressed about something, our body produces the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. If there are no breaks in-between, which allow them to come down, our body is in constant fight-or-flight modus which is a wonderful preparation for chronic disease. More information on chronic stress can be found in my recent blog post here. It doesn’t really matter what type of exercise you do. The important part is that you enjoy it so you do it voluntarily on a regular basis. If you can’t motivate yourself, get a buddy! Try to exercise at least twice a week. Apart from feeling happier after your exercise you will likely also sleep better – unless you do a high-intensity sport in the evening which again increases your adrenalin. So get physically active, whether it’s doing a beach clean up, a walk through one of Singapore’s national parks, yoga, dancing or kayaking!
3. A balanced diet: Balanced means getting all the nutrients your body needs to repair itself instead of damaging it further. For one person eating meat is correct, whilst for another eating raw vegetables feels right, yet another one might thrive on cooked food. Listen to what your body wants! If you have lots of cravings for unhealthy food, it might be worth to look into it a little deeper. Eating healthy should not be done with willpower. Often small changes can have a big, positive effect, especially if done in a way that lasts for life. Tune in with yourself: how do you feel after eating certain foods? Maybe it’s not an allergy, but your body just wants less polluted food? Maybe you feel lonely and the sugar helps you feel comforted? Or you find yourself in a rather stressful period of time during which you need more “junk” as your body is so toxic it needs toxic food to keep the balance? If this is the case pay attention, as doing this for an extended period of time is going to be a risk for your health. Talk to a qualified practitioner such as a naturopath, dietician or functional medicine practitioner who can help you figure things out and support you in finding solutions that work for you.
4. A happiness box or journal: Write down every day what went well, what you are proud about, and what you are grateful for. By making this conscious effort of focusing on what we have right now we can rewire the brain and increase our perceived level of happiness. It’s an inexpensive method by focusing on the positive aspects of your life and, at the same time, can remind you of how much you have when things look less bright.
5. Spend time in nature: If you live in a big city this can be a little tricky. It will require more effort, yet can bring you fabulous results. Whether you try forest bathing or explore the nature parks near you, it can decrease your stress levels, and, coinciding, increase your serotonin and dopamine. Do you remember ever coming back grumpy from a hike or cycling tour? Hungry and tired, yes, but grumpy? Being exposed to Mother Nature can be healing by itself so try spending more time with her. Alternatively, get some robust indoor plants! Plants reduce your stress levels, so how about growing some sprouts or herbs? Your body surely would love to eat some, too!
6. Get a social life: Being alone involuntarily can make you feel lonely and sad. So spend time with your loved ones. They don’t have time for you? Expand your circle of friends. If you don’t have friends, do activities where you can make some! Leave your phone in the bag, chat, and laugh as much as you can! You don’t like humans or feel too shy? Animals can be wonderful friends. If you cannot or don’t want to have the responsibility of walking a dog every day, why not volunteer in an animal shelter and walk the dogs or play with them?
7. Time for yourself: This, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful ways to feel happier. Whether you literally do nothing (does not include the use of an electronic device!), read a book, start a new hobby like painting, singing, pottery or whatever it is that you have been wanting to do for a long time, just give it a try! If you don’t like it, change, and try something else!
8. Clean up your home: Maybe you don’t need a bigger home. Maybe you just have too much stuff? Consider giving away or selling whatever you don’t need anymore. Often we buy too many things or keep items for sentimental value. Clutter gathers dust and it becomes tiring to keep the place clean. You don’t like cleaning? Why not get some natural cleaning products which often include natural essential oils some of which concurringly can cheer you up? Clutter and dust lower your energy levels so why not look at your home as if you come in for the first time? Maybe start with your wardrobe or that pile of paper on your desk. Maybe your kitchen needs a makeover so you can finally enjoy cooking? Maybe you are facing a new phase in your life, and need to change the look of your home? Browse through some design or home magazines and get some inspirations. You might be surprised how much can be done on a tiny budget! Don’t know how to do it yourself, but would like to use your hands for something creative? A lot of DIY stuff can be found on youtube.
Remember, change always takes some time, and you don’t have to do it all by yourself! Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot figure things out all by yourself. With the right support, this doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are many great professionals out there who could give you the support you need to get started or guide you. Treatment of the emotions might help you let go off that old baggage and help overcome fears which held you back until now. With time, the treatment might also enable you to see things a little clearer which can, therefore, save you time and energy. Tailored advice for your specific health or life situation might further help you get the energy you need for this journey. An outsider can sometimes see things from another perspective that you cannot see yourself. As always, tune in with yourself to check if the advice feels correct for you.
For any questions or if you would like me to support you in your journey, feel free to contact me here.
Jennifer Eisenecker is an ex-banker, German-certified naturopath, and business owner. Knowing how limited time and mind space often are, her recommendations are practical, easy to follow, and as simple as possible.
Jennifer’s multi-disciplinary approach involves going back to basics, looking at health from a trauma-aware perspective, and achieving health by calming down the nervous system to optimize your body’s innate ability to rebalance itself. She loves herbs and natural remedies.