According to clinical psychologist Sarah Sarkis, PhD, member of the Performance Advisory Board for human performance brand exoshappiness follows action. “Happiness cannot be captured. It is not a destination. It is an experience, a moment in time,” he says. “Once you try to achieve happiness or pursue it or possess it in some way, it goes away. Instead of focusing on being happy, invest in the process of doing things that bring you happiness. You can’t hunt happiness directly. You have to find it through secondary means like deep realization, intimate connection, and service to others.”
Do you feel inspired to actively awaken your own happiness? Go ahead, Dr. Sarkis and Meghan Marcum, PhD, chief psychologist at AMFM Health, offer the best ways to access fulfillment, connection and well-being. Happy (happiest) new year!
5 happiness tips to start the year directly from psychologists
1. Set short-term goals
Instead of committing to resolutions, Dr. Marcum is all about setting easy-to-achieve goals that make you feel amazing. “When we set realistic goals, it helps motivate us to achieve them, which in turn improves our mental health. Give yourself credit for partially reaching the goal and think about how goal setting can affect your work, relationships, and self-care this year.” year”. she says. For example, maybe you decide you want to try a week of sustainable cooking or three days of yoga in a row. Regardless of what you choose, scoring this little treat will give you a boost of happiness and satisfaction.
2. Mend broken boundaries
Setting limits is not a piece of cake. Every day, your family, colleagues, and (gestures widely) the world ask for parts of you. While you may find it rewarding to help out here and there, Dr. Sarkis says setting limits is also key to your mental health and well-being. “Here’s how to scale back: Notice where it’s overextended. Is it related to difficulty saying no, people pleasing, FOMO, avoiding something else at home or in your relationship? You have to protect your free time or inevitably getting lost in the chaos of work-life balance issues,” she says.
3. Double the sleep
Surprise, surprise: Sleep has a big influence on your mood and well-being, says Dr. Sarkis. “Without adequate sleep, you’ll always be stuck in the reactionary patterns that govern your unconscious habits. And one of the first things to atrophy when we’re chronically sleep deprived is our mood regulation. To improve it, you need to emphasize quality, quantity and consistency. All three factors are important in repairing prolonged patterns of chronic sleep disruption,” he explains. As if we all need one more reason to prioritize sleep, consider it.
4. Move your body (even a little)
“Aim for 15 minutes [of movement] twice a day,” says Dr. Sarkis. “For an added boost, do it outside to get your sunlight therapy at the same time (two for the price of one). Who doesn’t love a BOGO? It also doesn’t require a huge time commitment to get the mood boost from movement.” If you decide to exercise outdoors to feel good and boost endorphins, just make sure you apply your SPF too.
15 minutes, coming right away:
5. Sit still
Both Dr. Sarkis and Dr. Marcum emphasize that a mindfulness-slash-stillness practice can have game-changing effects on your happiness levels. “The biggest ROI in terms of cost, time, and result, by far, is a stillness or meditation practice of some kind,” says Dr. Sarkis. “[Mindfulness] it’s proven to boost mood, improve sleep, decrease anxiety, and create more sustainable focus and concentration.” If you’re having a hard time starting a meditation practice, Dr. Marcum recommends thinking about things you’re grateful for and then extend. This is sometimes called loving-kindness meditation, and it can be an easy hotspot for people who struggle to sit still.
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