Everyone wants to be happy, but actually achieving this and maintaining it is easier said than done. There are bookshelves of books out there saying that they can teach you how to be happy, as long as you fork over the money to buy those books.
Starting the new year is meant to give us a new opportunity to be happier than we were last year, but that’s easier said than done when each new year starts with January, which everyone knows is the worst of all months.
But don’t despair! Even if that precious first payday after Christmas still feels like it’s weeks away, even if the weather is harsh and your New Year’s Resolutions have failed just as quickly as every other year, there are still ways for you to salvage things and turn 2020 into a great year.
While it’s true that the modern world is full of challenges and things that weigh down heavily on our happiness, there are things you can do to lighten your mood and put a smile back on your face.
Here’s how to make 2020 your happiest year ever:
Eat more fruit and veg
Yes, here’s one resolution that you really do need to keep up. Whether you’ve been going vegan for January or have just been trying to eat a bit more healthily, you’re on the path to happiness. Research by the University of Warwick has found that eating fruit and vegetables really does lead to you feeling happier, so don’t fall back into your bad habits. Leave the potato chips and candy in 2019.
Kick your Facebook habit
Social media was meant to be a lot of fun, wasn’t it? So what happened? Today social media is mostly people lying about their ‘amazing lives’ or arguing about politics and Star Wars. Is any of that making you feel happier? You might ‘own’ someone for being too ‘woke’ or a ‘fascist’, but it doesn’t matter which side of the argument you’re on. You’d be happier just staying away, according to the Happiness Research Institute, which said that even quitting Facebook for a week can lead to a lift in happiness.
Use your feet more
Nobody likes their commute to work and it’s no one’s idea of a happy time. Of course, quitting your job might seem like a good way to be happier, but that comes with all of its own problems. So why not switch your bus/tram/train/car for your feet and try walking to work instead? Research from the University of East Anglia found that people who did this were healthier and had better concentration levels and felt less strained.
Look at those cat photos
Again, this isn’t an excuse to spend your working day on BuzzFeed, but if you do get caught doing this by your boss, you can at least tell them that looking at photos of cute animals has been scientifically proven to make you happier, more excited, AND can help improve focus at work. Take that, boss!
Get more sleep
No more convincing yourself that you can fit in just one more episode of that latest Netflix show before bedtime and then ending up not getting to sleep until 1 AM when you need to be up at 6 AM. The University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre says that just one extra hour’s sleep can make all the difference to your happiness the next day, so make sure you know when to call it a day, no matter how tempting that one more episode might seem.
Get vacation planning
Vacations — especially packing for them — can be a cause of much stress and strain, but one part of the experience that has been proven to make us feel happier is the planning stage. Most destinations are much more fun to dream about than actually visit, so spending time planning and daydreaming about your vacation can boost your mood for up to 8 weeks, according to a study by the University of Rotterdam. So, where are you planning to go in 2020?
Oxytocin is the hormone that makes us feel happier, the one that fills us with feelings of love and trust. One of the best ways to boost our levels of oxytocin is by hugging, so while it’s not advisable to walk up to strangers in the street and hug them, you should certainly never pass up the chance for a hug with someone who actually wants to hug you. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a chance to feel happy.
Be with happy people
Have you ever noticed that being with miserable people makes you feel miserable, too? Well, the reverse applies, too, with happy people making you feel happier. Research from Harvard and San Diego University has even found that each additional happy person you’re with increases your own levels of happiness by 9%. Definitely a case of ‘the more the merrier’.
Listen to music
Maybe you don’t need telling this, but music makes you feel better. Research at McGill University found that listening to your favorite music boosts your dopamine levels, making you feel happier. So load up Spotify and that classic playlist you made and get ready to feel good.
If this year hasn’t been all you’d hoped for so far, don’t worry. There’s still time to turn things around and feel happier, so why not try out these tips?