This is a guest post by John, a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK and the Balkans.
Rather than giving into the habitual unhappiness that taints so many of our daily lives, we have the power to make small changes that can affect the way we feel and behave.
Just 10% of our happiness depends on the circumstances in which we find ourselves in general.
And while 50% depends on our genes (blame your parents!), that leaves fully 40% to be accounted for by the way you deal with the quotidian: the little habits and gestures that make up the minutiae of your day-to-day life.
This should tell you it’s worth making the conscious decision to change the way you face up to the day. And think about the side-effects of happiness: increased productivity and health, and the happiness you spread to those around you.
It’s also worth noting that happier people have around 23% lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, pumping through their system.
It’s all about working up the will power to approach things in a way that you know are actually enjoyable – but which sometimes feel like too much hard work.
Take walking, for example. If you’ve ever walked to work, you’ll know the feeling of accomplishment you get. You’ll recognize the smell of fresh air in the morning, the uplifted mood that all that exercise-induced dopamine stimulates, the increased attention to detail you’ll pay to the landmarks along your route.
What you may not consciously notice – although scientists insist the improvement is measurable – is your increased ability to concentrate once you arrive at work, and the lower levels of strain you experience.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live within walking distance of their workplace: but if you drive, think about parking further off so you can walk the final mile to work (you might save on parking fees, too!). If you take public transport, you can always hop off a stop or two early in each direction.
In your home life, a bit of an adjustment in your diet can do the job.
Another band of researchers discovered that when test subjects upped their daily fruit and veggie intake from zero to eight per day, they received the same increase in life satisfaction as if they’d gone from being unemployed to having a job. If your sweet tooth tends to confine you to processed snacks and fizzy drinks for those instant hits, don’t forget that you can sneak in some delicious fruity alternatives via smoothies, veg-and-hummus appetizers and the occasional fruit medley.
Finally, think about notching your social media intake down a little, and you will be surprised at the feelings of freedom and happiness that it promotes.
Once more, researchers are ahead of the game on this one: the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen have shown that just a week without Facebook can increase your happiness levels.
But before you log off, be sure to share this useful infographic from CashNetUSA.
Packed with more info on the little adjustments you can make to enable more happiness in your life, it’s a must-read for those who are anxious to take more responsibility for their own well-being.
What about you? Any other ways to take control of your happiness by making small changes?