March 20th was International Day of Happiness. I did celebrate, but that is because my son turned 16. We ate cake, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and spent time together.
It is a tradition to wish people a ‘happy birthday’, or ‘happy holidays’ or happy Easter’, but in the end we do not want happiness for one day only; we want it for the rest of our lives. Luckily, there are many ways to get a happier life.
First we need to know what makes us really happy. According to the World Happiness Report 2017 the main factors found to support happiness are having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and absence of corruption in business and government.
Having lots of money is not mentioned and according to John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada you need to have some money to be happy, but at a certain point extra money doesn’t buy happiness. So what does ‘buy’ happiness but is free to get?
Here are 5 ways to be happier, without spending a dime.
- Give back
There are many health benefits associated with giving: lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, longer life, less depression, lower stress levels and greater happiness. Give back by volunteering and you also make someone else happy. You can find volunteer opportunities here.
- Foster good relationships with family and friends
People who spend much time with family and friends are less prone to loneliness and depression. Happy people hardly ever spend much time alone; they love being with friends and family. Sharing common experiences and having a support network that you can rely on boosts overall happiness.
- Practice gratitude
Being aware of what you are thankful for makes you happier. At night just before bedtime, spend 5 minutes recalling all the things for which you are grateful. These can be simple things like having a coffee with a friend or realizing your have a roof over your head. Read here about the benefits of a gratitude journal.
- Get rid of clutter
Imagine not running around looking for items you can’t find and feeling stressed before you get out of the door. A clutter-free home where items have a place and you can see and use the things you love will make you feel relaxed and happy. Less clutter is less organizing and more spare time for fun things. It’s as simple as that.
Laughter produces endorphins, one of the 10 hormones of happiness. Smile and you will feel better. Or purposely find something to laugh about and uplift your spirit and soothe tension in your body. Try it.
Remember that feeling after you dropped off donations or that time having a great laugh with friends? Hold on to that feeling. It is instant happiness and it is addicting! More IS better.