Life Hacks to Happiness
Hello, may I sit next to you on this emotional rollercoaster called Life and share a few tidbits?
I had some extremely dark days in my late teens and early twenties and at the time I accepted it, sometimes, I even let it swallow me. I always thought that I would be happy when I was successful; when I could find a good job, make a lot of money, buy a big house or find a good looking boyfriend. And over the years, I worked for or waited on these things and sometimes I even had them, and I would be happy, then I would loose them and I would be plunged into despair again thinking, "that's it, I have lost my chance at happiness". It took far too long for me to figure out that I would be happy when I chose to be.
I learned that happiness was working on myself, from the inside out and it was hard work. It took, 1. Recognition; that I was in a dark place. 2. Understanding; that the darkness was not happening TO me but as result of my choices. 3. Strength; to take responsibility and make better choices.
I called this article Life Hacks to Happiness because these are a few very small changes that I made to my life that improved it drastically, and it's my hope that you can maybe pick up one or two of these points and give them a try, and feel a shift.
1. Assess your diet.
When I was in college I suffered badly with insomnia. Until someone once told me, in passing, that removing gluten from their diet helped them sleep better. I cut out ALL gluten for a full month and my life changed completely - I could sleep 7hrs straight, my digestion improved (I was suddenly, ahem, regular) and because of this my mood improved. Since then I eat gluten in controlled amounts and I notice the difference instantly if I over-do it. Spend time figuring out what makes your gut happy, and it will reward you in kind.
READ: GUT, by Giulia Enders
2. Cut down the coffee.
This sucks. As a hardcore coffee addict for many years I feel your pain. But slowly (and I mean literally over about 4 years) I reduced my coffee intake from 4, to 3, to 2 and now I'm often on 1 only. I can concentrate deeper, for longer and stay more present in each moment. So if you are a "four-a-dayer", just start by knocking this down to 3 and see if this makes a difference.
3. Eat your greens.
Our bodies are all extremely micro-nutrient deficient and most of these can be pulled from green vegetables. Not only does the average person not eat enough greens, but often the source of our greens is over-farmed land that is nutrient deficient, or loaded with synthetic fertilisers. Not only is it vital to add more greens to your diet, but also to know where they are coming from: organic farming uses crop rotation that adds vital, natural nutrients to the soil. Food is normally always "you get what you pay for" so if you are buying cheap food, it's probably pointless and even damaging.
"Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet. " Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
A healthy body is a happy body.
4. Get outside.
I went through a period of interning at a design firm in Cape Town and they did the thing that is most often done to interns; they worked me to the bone! Most days, I would arrive before sunrise and leave after sunset. I soon realised that if I stopped bringing packed lunches to work with me I could "pop out" to grab lunch. I couldn't afford to eat out every day; I was a student, but it was worth it for those ten minutes to walk across the street to the grocery store, feel the sun and breath the fresh air, to buy a take away. Nature is a happiness factory. Go check it out.
5. Get moving.
A little over a year ago, I was feeling completely run down, tired and unmotivated. I spoke to a friend and she told me to go to the gym and that would help me out my slump. This is literally the LAST thing a tired, unmotivated person wants hear. I made up so many excuses for why I couldn't do it: I couldn't afford it, I wasn't fit enough to keep up, the classes seemed too busy etc. In the end though, I went and it changed everything. There is so much to be said for the kick of endorphins that comes from high intensity work outs. If you already have a workout plan, add another thirty minutes a week to it and see what happens.
6. Make time for family and friends.
I know when I am in a slump the last thing I want to do is see people, but if you surround yourself with the right people they will turn your mood right around even if you don't want them too (I see you my friends who like to be in a state of "feel sorry for me") and you must let them.
7. Get some sleep.
I know for a FACT that if you feel down the best thing you can do is go to bed. Tomorrow is another day and a good night's sleep feeds your brain and your soul. This is always a reliable quick fix for me.
8. Drop the guilt.
I leave the best for last. I do believe you choose your way to be in the world. So, you can choose to feel guilty about something you did or didn't do and you can choose not to. My husband will occasionally walk in to our living room and find me in my pj's with a bag of popcorn, most of the way through a bottle of white wine, watching Vampire Diaries and laugh and say, "you're in your happy place." Damn straight I am. If I am run down, miserable and exhausted then I know that popcorn, wine and crappy TV is going to help me feel better. So I do that. I do what makes me happy.