Happiness is generally described as a mixture of life satisfaction, coping mechanisms and positive emotions.
And did you know that happiness, most of the time, is intentional?
Sometimes I wonder why prioritising our happiness is not at the top of every one of our to-do lists.
If we’re not doing something because it will make us happy, then what is the actual point in doing it?
Anyway, that’s enough of that. This article will explain 6 reasons to start prioritising our happiness and provide you with 9 useful tips on doing so.
6 Reasons to Prioritise Our Happiness
Reason 1: Happiness Makes Us Healthier
This could be a whole article in itself because there are so many ways that happiness can actually make us healthier.
For example, happiness can:
- Boost our immune system
- Reduce blood pressure
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduce pain perception (especially in conditions such as arthritis)
For more on the physical health benefits of happiness, click here.
Oh and happy people live longer too!
Reason 2: Happiness Boosts Our Likeability
The more happy you are, the more likely you are to show positive emotions, obviously.
Emotional contagion theory suggests that we tend to imitate the emotions of the people and the situations around us.
So, if you’re communicating positive emotions, other people are therefore more likely to feel and experience positive emotions.
In addition to this, if people feel positive emotions in our company then they are more likely to associate you with positive emotions.
Therefore, making you more likeable.
I suppose this could be why happy people have more friends!
Reason 3: Happiness Increases Our Chances of Success
There are plenty of studies and articles that explain how being happy can make our brains more efficient and how that can boost our chances of success, such as this one.
However, I think this works differently depending on our idea of what success looks like.
People that are happy tend to have different measures of success to those that are chasing success.
We are constantly shaped to believe that success brings happiness. Whilst this could obviously be true to some extent, happiness is much more likely to bring success than the other way round.
But what if the people that are happier are so because they have a different measure of success?
What if they are happy because happiness is their success, and therefore it is prioritised.
Reason 4: Happiness Boosts Creativity
Creative problem-solving capabilities are thought to be improved by positive emotions. People experiencing these emotions when solving a problem tend to offer up more creative solutions and ideas.
This can work in both the long and short term.
So next time we need to spur on some creativity, experts advise taking a break to do something that will draw out some positive emotions (i.e. do something that makes us happy or puts us in a good mood).
For me, this would mean going out to walk the dog, playing football or blessing the ears of my street by singing along to some loud music. Although singing is definitely an overstatement.
Reason 5: Happiness Improves Our Sleep
Studies, such as this one by Anthony Ong, have linked a positive interpretation of life with increased quality of sleep.
But it works both ways too. The research also identified that those with their feelings and emotions tied to external factors and events were likely to experience poor sleep.
So whilst working on our sleep could improve our happiness, working on our happiness could improve our sleep. It’s a full cycle (I hope!).
Reason 6: Happiness Cushions Us Against Stress
Pain and stress are probably as certain in life as a DFS sale. But prioritising our happiness could act as a very useful cushion against the two.
Unfortunately, this type of cushion can’t be bought from DFS though. Instead, habitual and intentional happiness can build resilience against stress.
Stress can accumulate and build up to the point of combustion, but thankfully, so can our stress relief, only to the point of resilience instead.
Common advice in the face of stress is to do something that makes us happy. Because we’d already be prioritising these things, they’d become habitual. We’d have a subscription to stress relief!
The more that we intentionally prioritise doing things that make us happy, the more natural they will become and the easier it will be for these things to become coping resources.
As well as this, a frequent positive mood and habitual positive thinking helps us to think less irrationally and respond to stress in healthier ways.
So, now we’ve discussed why it would be worth prioritising our happiness, it is probably useless if we don’t know how to.
So here are 7 tips on how we can start prioritising our happiness!
How to Prioritise Our Happiness
Prioritising happiness sounds easy, we just do things that make us happy right? Exactly.
But it all stems from us being intentional about doing these things because they make us happy.
Obviously we can’t just click our fingers and be happy.
Therefore, the items on the following list are things that we could do regularly that will benefit our happiness, in addition to simply doing things that bring us joy.
Learn How to Say No
Boundaries are so important in many walks of life. Some even describe boundaries as the sole key to happiness!
Personal boundaries are a simple set of rules and limits that we set for ourselves that we’d like the people in our lives to abide by.
For example, asking someone not to joke about a particular topic is a personal boundary.
Learning to say no is a great way to assert these but it is never as easy as it sounds.
We may struggle to say no for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to avoid conflict, for example.
But here is how you can say no without seeming rude, unhelpful or lazy:
- Be kind, but firm (e.g. ‘thanks for offering, but I’m going to say no to this’).
- Keep your explanations brief (e.g. ‘thanks for offering, but I’m going to say no to this. I have other commitments at the moment’).
- Offer an alternative (e.g. ‘thanks for offering, but I’m going to say no to this. I have other commitments at the moment. However, I’ll be free next weekend’).
Not only does expressing gratitude externally (e.g. saying thanks) reward us by helping us to feel better about ourselves, expressing gratitude internally (e.g. thinking about the things that you’re grateful for) can also induce instant positive emotions.
Intentionally thinking about the stuff that you’re grateful for will train your brain to find positives everywhere over time, which is obviously incredibly useful for your happiness.
We can start by looking for those positives and thinking about those silver linings that appear.
Sometimes there may not be any. But the fact that you’ve looked for that positive is a positive in itself.
Try New Stuff
Over time, comfort becomes, well, comfy. And there is nothing wrong with this.
But according to research, people that frequently engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to preserve positive emotions and ditch negative ones when compared with people with fewer experiences.
We’re not saying that actively ticking off our bucket lists is what we need to do to be happy.
Those small and even very minor experiences that we dive into will go a long way towards our happiness too.
This is absolutely amazing for our confidence too, which is also linked to an increase in happiness.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is absolutely vital for our wellbeing, both physical and mental. Sleep hygiene refers to having the correct conditions for effective sleep, such as an appropriate environment and routine, for example.
For more on how to nurture good sleep hygiene, click here to see this brilliant article by the Sleep Foundation.
Otherwise, here are a few small things that we can do to improve our sleep:
- Use apps
- Wake up to natural light
- Regulate body temperature
- Eat kiwis or tart cherries before bed
- Avoid too much caffeine after 2pm
- Do some cardio
- Avoid super scrolling
- Breathe (Using the Papworth Method)
Plus we’ll already be working on prioritising our happiness in other ways, giving us the best chance at our 40 winks, as mentioned earlier.
Practice Using Positive Language
When we speak, both outwardly and inwardly (i.e. to ourselves), we make a subtle decision based on the type of language that we use.
We can make this decision intentional, and the choice is simple. Do we use language that helps or hinders our happiness?
Here’s a few ways that we can use language that helps our happiness:
Stop saying ‘should’ and start saying ‘could’. For example, saying ‘I could’ gives us the power, whereas saying ‘I should’ is a subtle way of saying that we’re not good enough or doing enough.
Start saying ‘yet’ and ‘but’. We can add these to the end of our self-critical sentences as a way to challenge them.
For example, ‘I’m not very good at this…yet’ or ‘I’m not where I want to be…but I’m working on it’.
Do you see how those sentences instantly sound more positive?
Positive self-talk and affirmations are also a great way to prioritise your happiness.
Positive self-talk would involve saying things like ‘I am amazing’ to help induce those positive emotions associated with happiness.
Positive affirmations work well in the face of a challenge as they act as a good way to put a positive spin on something. One example that I’ve liked recently is saying to myself ‘I’m grateful that I’m in demand’ when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my workload.
All of this can again increase your confidence too, which as we know, has been linked to an increase in happiness.
Spend Time in the Present
When we are battling a low mood or feeling anxious, it’s likely that we’re either thinking about the future or dwelling on the past.
Spending time in the present moment can temporarily eliminate these issues.
When we’re in the present moment we are more likely to feel at peace and grounded. We are less likely to let things pass us by.
We are therefore more likely to appreciate everything around us for what they are and avoid letting life’s often wonderful moments pass us by.
The present is a gift, remember that.
Habits can make our lives much easier. By building habits, we can automate these activities that enhance our happiness.
The more we do them, the more likely they are to become habits. We could be prioritising our happiness on autopilot.
But again it stems from being intentional about why we’re doing these things in the first place.
It is because they will make us happy.
What would you like to learn about?