11 tips to being happier
By: Mike Collette Owner/Head Coach at CrossFit Prototype
Having been in the fitness industry for several years as a personal trainer, I have had many conversations with people when they were in the best of moods and sometimes in the worst. All too often, life get’s tricky, things don’t go your way, and it can negatively affect your current mindset. As we all know, being happy is important to your emotional well-being but it can also impact your physical well-being. Here are several action items that you can do daily to improve your personal happiness, whether you’re at home or in our CrossFit gym.
Begin in Gratitude (B.I.G)
Each morning when you wake up remind yourself and/or write down what you are truly grateful for that day. You might always be grateful for you health, your family, your friends; but don’t forget to remind yourself of the things you have the opportunity to do that day. For example, many people look at their jammed packed schedule and think “I have a busy day today, this is going to be a lot of work.” The reality is, you should be grateful to have the opportunity to do those things. Never use “I have to do this” mindset instead use “I get to do this” mindset. As Lee Brower says, “Go B.I.G.”
Smile early and laugh often
Studies suggest that smiling leads to decreases in stress and longer, happier lives. If that isn’t enough reason to smile more, I don’t know what is! Smiling creates a positive feedback loop in your brain and releases important hormones that make you feel good. Have you ever walked down the street and counted the number of people smiling? If you haven’t, do it. You will be surprised to see how many people aren’t smiling (especially in the North East). Who do you see smiling the most? Kids! Kids are so happy all the time aren’t they? I guess we need to start acting like kids again : )
There are several people in this world whose lives revolve around helping others. Their greatest successes in life are found from helping. Now this doesn’t mean you need to quit work and join a cause or start a non-profit. Helping can be anything from holding a door, carrying groceries for someone or giving some money to someone in need. The thing here is that if you genuinely want to help someone, you’re not looking for something in return. There is no greater satisfaction than being able to help someone. Wouldn’t you want someone to help you if you needed it?
Being thankful is aligned with our first tip on being grateful or B.I.G. The difference is being grateful should be how you live your life, thanking someone is a by-product of your gratefulness and is typically in response to an action. This principle we teach our children early in life which is to thank someone when they are given something. Have you ever thanked someone when you received bad news? Have you been thankful when something hasn’t gone your way? Don’t forget to thank people for things they do for you. It makes a difference!
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Often we allow small moments in life to negatively affect our current emotional state and or let it create prolonged negativity. Typically, these moments are temporary and shortly after, they subside and you realize this wasn’t really that big of a deal. Think about a moment like this: spilt red wine on your white carpet, forgot your lunch, messed up on a presentation or forgot to get something at the grocery store. You need to think to yourself, “will this event shape who I am tomorrow” and “does this really matter?” Creating a mindset to not allow these small instances to create a negative impact on your current state is important to living a happier life. You know why? They are going to happen, you might as well respond positively than negatively, it doesn’t change what happened!
Journal nightly and end with a positive focus
Reflection on the day, for many, often turns into added stress at night. You bring your work or negative experiences home with you. It might even impact your family time or marriage. A strategy to help with this is to journal nightly and reflect on the positives of the day or to end the night by going B.I.G. Despite how bad a day you had, there are always things to be grateful for and that were positive. Some days you might have more impactful positives than others but if you end the day reflecting on those good things, it makes your next day even better!
Everyone loves to be complimented! Do them a favor and make them feel good about themselves. In return, that positivity will make you feel better as well. You might just change that person’s day for the better!
Eat well, Sleep more and Exercise regularly
Often the most obvious method of making yourself feel better is to take control of your health. The reality is life tends to get in the way a lot of the time for people trying to make a positive impact on their health. Whether its time restraints, accountability, education; there tends to be something negatively impacting their fitness goals. Think of fitness as 3 pillars: Pillar 1 is your nutrition. 80% of fitness results comes from what you put into your body. Eating well (whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables) contributes to healthy body fat percentage, improved bone mineral density, healthy cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels. Sugar and alcohol are two of the biggest contributors to health risks such as chronic illnesses but also contributes to inflammation, negative hormonal changes, anxiety, and depression. Pillar 2 is sleep. Very often, this is the most underestimated part of your health and typically most people aren’t getting close to the amount of sleep they should be getting. 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended to promote healthy brain funtion, metabolism, recovery, proper hormonal balance and energy levels to name a few. Pillar 3 is exercise. Regular physical activity is important to releasing “feel good” chemicals such endorphins and dopamine to make you feel happy. Regardless of the physical benefits that regular physical activity assists in, movement is key to keeping your brain functioning properly and regulating mood. Try 30 minutes a day to start.
Actively Listen to people and ask questions
Listening and active listening are two completely different things. Quite often, when someone is talking to another, they are just “listening” or half listening and half thinking about how they will respond. Rather than “active listening” which creates another level of attentiveness to show you are fully engaged and understanding what that person has to say. Not only will you learn more and get more out of your conversations with people but they will appreciate you more for actually listening to them. This helps build and forge relationships with others which is an important part of your journey to happiness!
With every experience there is learning
To play off several of the happiness tips above such as going B.I.G, thanking, and not sweating the small stuff, it is important to understand that with every experience whether is is good or bad, there is learning. Appreciate and be grateful for your learnings as they teach you about yourself and others. A wise man once told me “I have never made a mistake in my life. I’ve only learned.” Regardless of your circumstances, you can always find the learnings behind it which you can be thankful for. Appreciate the fact that you will become better after each experience.
Find friends that allow you to be you
Possibly the most obvious point we have made thus far but if it’s obvious it must be true! There are things in life that help facilitate your happiness and finding friends that allow you to be you and you is one of them. These people will bring the best out of you. Not to get mushy but think about some of the greatest moments of your life, chances are, those happy moments were shared with those who are closest to you and make you happy. This might be a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/high school buddy/ college frat bro etc, it doesn’t matter as long as they are part of your success as a happy individual.