October 3, 2022

How to live happy in the now

Living in the now is almost impossible if we don't act. Why? You wonder.

Living in the now is almost impossible if we don't act. Why? You wonder. Because our brain’s basic mechanism has not evolved since our prehistoric time. It hasn’t been and it’s not a brain that thinks, “Yes, this is great, let’s enjoy the day”. Our brain will constantly demand us to be alert, to scout around for danger, to prepare for the worst.

Research shows that it’s almost impossible to live in the present moment, but don’t despair. Research also shows that like many other things, happiness is under personal control, but is no trivial task. The work done by Sonja Lyubomirsky shows that 40% of our happiness is determined by our activities and only 10% by what we have. The remaining 50% is genetics.

Getting happiness requires action, requires us to learn to be happy, to assess our happiness levels and to find a way to increase our happiness in our daily activities. Happiness is a skill, something we can get better at, that is if we are keen on putting in the work.

So what can you do to be happy in the now:

1. Check in with yourself. Attention, awareness, and self-reflection are the first steps towards becoming happier. Simple questions like “How am I feeling today?”, “Did I feel happy today?”, “Did I smile today?” “What are my sources of happiness?” are the first step towards happiness.

2. Put happiness on your “to-do list”. In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget about happiness. Sounds terrible, but as childhood goes by, happiness gets “pushed out” to make space for other “more important things”. So, make sure you make time for activities that make you happy and remember to smile and laugh throughout the day.

3. Use positive affirmations. Throughout the day simply saying to yourself things such as “I am happy today”, “This makes me happy” or “I like this” will allow you to “contradict” your brain's standard “danger mode”.

4. Look for the positive. Having a list of things you are grateful for, helps at first as a reminder of all the good in your life. Learn to choose your thoughts and train your brains to look for positivity. Had a terrible meeting, say to yourself, “next meeting will go great”.

5. Make the ordinary, extraordinary. Slow down and take a little extra time in your daily activities and do them mindfully. Enjoy your food, your coffee/tea, your shower, they fuel your body and your soul. Use all your senses — sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch to savor the moment.

6. Stop multitasking. Not only it negatively affects your productivity, but it’s also heavy on our brain and makes you tense and your mind scattered and stressful. Focus on one activity at a time.

7. Play. Make time for fun. No purpose, just fun. If, like most adults, you have lost that element of play or think playing is for kids, get it back in your life. Play is essential and a great way to release endorphins, stimulate creativity and reduce stress and anxiety. Think board games, coloring, Legos, dodge ball, whatever rocks your world.

8. Keep track of your progress. Every day we do many activities and meeting one's goals is one simple way to feel happier. Break the big goals into smaller easier tasks to be completed and mark them as “complete” along the way. It will create a sense of accomplishment.

9. Celebrate. Celebrate both big and small achievements (yours or some else's). Buried in “to-do lists”, always on to the next thing, being “mature adults”, means we don’t allow ourselves the time to stop and celebrate. Make time for a little celebration to boost your happiness.

10. Prioritize deep relationships. Nurture your relationships, from the people that are closest to you to the ones that are further away. A kind look, a kind word, a kind gesture, or a kind smile are simple enough but extremely powerful in our relationships. And healthy relationships are the foundation of a happier life.

And lastly, don't forget to watch your sleep, nutrition, and physical activity.

Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day. - Alice Morse Earle

Are you looking? Are you taking action?

Written by Andreea Pap

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