How to be happy in 5 days

“Achieving happiness requires nothing more than practicing a few simple disciplines each and every day,” believes Dr. Tim Sharp. And he should know – he’s from the Happiness Institute.

Blonde woman smiling

Happy people see the bright side of life, view the glass as half-full and tend to be magnets for other happy people. Happiness builds resilience, optimism and a better quality of life.

5 days is all it takes to set you on a happy path. While you won’t feel happy all the time, you can feel happy much of the time. Being grateful, playing to your strengths, caring for your body and appreciating the small things in life all add up to lasting happiness.

Day 1: Take a walk

Walking is a great way to clear the mind, release endorphins and feel happy. All you need is 20 minutes and some good walking shoes.

As you walk, breathe through your nose (the little hairs filter any gunk) and fill your entire lungs with oxygen. Once you’ve found your stride, look up. Pay attention to your surroundings and let your thoughts come and go. Stop and smell the roses. By the end of your walk, you’ll feel calmer, brighter and better.

Day 2: Choose real food

The food you eat not only affects your health but also your mood.

Avoid eating anything that comes in a packet, especially the crinkly, silver-lined ones. And be aware of the effects of that mood altering substance: sugar. Even though sugar gives you an initial rush, there’s also a comedown afterwards.

To maintain an even emotional keel:

  • Grab a handful of walnuts
  • Knock back some antioxidant-rich blueberries
  • Dig in to omega-3 packed salmon

If deciding between banana bread or a banana, make the choice that aligns with your long-term goals. You’ll feel happier for it.

Day 3: Phone a friend

You don’t need a study in a scholarly journal to tell you that quality friendships boost your happiness. If you have 5 or more friends to whom you can chat about important issues, you’re more likely to describe yourself as very happy. Spending time with like-minded people makes you feel connected and provides a sense of identity.

To nurture friendships, be a good friend. Regularly touch base, remember special events, such as birthdays, offer to help and be encouraging. Avoid the trap of comparing your success against your friends. Happy people set their own criteria for success and share in their friend’s triumphs. If your current circle of friends is a bit toxic, make new ones.

Day 4: Manage your time and priorities

It’s hard to be happy if your life feels chaotic.

Another happiness vampire is stress because it clogs your thinking and makes you more reactive. If you’re in the car, running late and hit a traffic snarl, you’re more likely to misdirect your frustration and snap at the children.

According to the Happiness Institute, “Happy people tend to believe they’re more in control of their lives. In doing so, they’re more likely to take an active approach to solving problems. If something’s not quite right in your life, do something. And furthermore, make sure what you’re doing is important. Put first things first.”

In the morning, map out your day and allocate plenty of time to achieve your tasks. Be diligent in how you spend your time and place a value on it. You are important and so is your time.

Day 5: Recognise small happy moments

All too often, we race through the day without acknowledging the many small moments of happiness we experience.

Today, stop and savour the small moments as they happen. If you missed them, sit down at the end of the day and make a list of them. It could include looking into the window of a beautiful flower shop, laughing with a friend, finding the perfect car park, watching the wind in a tree, completing a task at work or playing with your children.

The more you focus on small moments of happiness right now, the more you appreciate the richness available to you at any given moment. You can choose where you put your attention. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius said: Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

10 quick happy tips

  1. Look up to the sky – it lifts your mood
  2. Make a list of things you are grateful for
  3. Swap 1 cup of coffee or glass of wine for a cup of green tea
  4. De-clutter your desk or a drawer
  5. Spend 10 minutes focusing on your breathing
  6. Be aware of your internal voice – listen to your negative thoughts without judgment
  7. Drink lots of water
  8. Give yourself a non-food reward
  9. Spend 10 minutes stretching
  10. Sign up for a new exercise activity

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