In the FI community, we are constantly looking for ways to optimize and make changes for the better. It's a given that most of our community members are constantly finding life hacks to improve life, to be happier, healthier, and more in tune with what matters most.
If you’re looking for ideas to be happier now, we have some life hacks you can experiment with to help move the needle for your personal satisfaction to live a more well-rounded life!
Watch Your Mind
Mindset is crucial to getting happy and staying happy. What you put in your mind and who you surround yourself with is critical for maintaining and improving your happiness. Our brains are literally stimulated by happy people, and there are tangible benefits to gratitude practices.
To be happier, you can keep a journal of what you’re grateful for. Be mindful of negative thought cycles that trigger a pessimistic outlook. This can nip a bad mood in the bud before it blossoms to consume your entire day. Yes, there will still be bad days. But by putting your thoughts and energy into happiness, to stick to a growth mindset and one that cultivates positivity despite the circumstances is a way to keep the lows from being lower and the highs a bit more regular!
Related: Frugality Without Deprivation
Meditate For Happiness
If you haven’t given meditation a try, maybe it’s time to listen to all of the hype! Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, lessen workplace burnout, and potentially increase pain tolerance. So, while it may give you a feeling of well being, it has science behind it for all the other benefits as well!
Meditation can be done in just a few minutes a day. It is no longer relegated to those days when you have a spare hour to invest in quiet mindfulness. Most of us struggle to find even two minutes of peace, but fortunately, that’s all it takes.
Apps like Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace can provide a variety of white noise functions (from beach waves to wind chimes) to help you zone out. Many apps even offer guided meditation to help you guide your breathing and thoughts, and get used to tuning out the world and tuning in to your being.
See Also: How To Stay Motivated For the Long Term
Invest In The Bliss Of Sleep
Sleep has been shown to improve concentration and memory, strengthen the immune system, and boost your mood–warding off depression. But so many of us run off a sleep debt. We don't realize that even an extra hour a night could help us be healthier and happier. Increasing sleep just even a few nights a week or by taking naps if we need to has many benefits. Best of all, it’s free!
Have trouble getting to sleep? Setting night time and morning time routines can help you wind down and wake up being refreshed. Having wind-down routines like using a lavender bed spray and making an herbal tea to unwind with; plus pre-setting your coffee for the morning can be simple changes. But those little things pay off big and ensure you’re getting a good snooze instead of hitting the snooze!
Avoiding electronic device use in bed is also recommended. Give yourself some time before bed without the blue light from your tablet or phone. According to the Sleep Foundation, it affects the levels of melatonin, the length of time before getting to REM sleep, and even the body's natural clock. If you really want to take it up a notch, you can go into your phone's settings and turn off the blue light altogether.
Sleep has big payoffs for our happiness, but it’s often the first thing to get sacrificed when life gets hectic. If you want to be happy, try making tweaks to get more sleep!
Cool It On Social Media Regularly
Social media is great! It’s likely how you found ChooseFI (yay!) and also helps you keep in touch with what’s going on with the world. But it can be a massive source of anxiety and has been linked to low self-esteem with higher usage.
Social media has a place, but it often is a distraction that keeps us up at night. Mindlessly scrolling on Facebook instead of winding down just keeps us from taking care of ourselves. (And we just talked about how important sleep is!) If it's the first thing we check in the morning, there can be undue pressure the rest of the day for that “Instagram” perfect moment. This can be a real bummer of a habit to maintain when you want to be happier.
Taking regular breaks from social media can be a welcomed reprieve from the constant stimulus and comparison. Whether you have a nightly log off time or simply shut things down for weekends–regular breaks are important. An occasional electronic fast is important for us to stay sane, and happier overall.
This year–make it a point to put the phone down at planned intervals. Maybe just a day the first time, and then a week… even a month, at a time, and see how it feels emotionally and what time it frees up for you!
Yes, you know that exercise is important. I won’t waste your time by pleading the case for you to get on a treadmill. What studies have shown though, is that even taking regular dance breaks, a daily walk (much like the Japanese concept of “forest bathing ”) outdoors, or even doing the horizontal tango with your significant other (yes, I went there!), can make you happier.
Yes, hitting up CrossFit is great–but there are huge payoffs with all sorts of movements and activities, even as simple as a stroll around the block. Getting outside is proven to make you happier, no matter how you do it.
If you can’t invest in a full gym routine, don’t lose hope–but do get moving however you can. Spending time in nature, in the sheets, on the dance floor, or even doing quick stretches to a YouTube video can be a great way to get mood-boosting benefits.
Related: Frugal Fitness Hacks
Tackle Your Gators, Stop Chasing Kittens
Happiness is dynamic. There will be times it’s important to add new habits or routines to your life. And other times where it’s more impactful to reduce stress for more emotional benefits.
While you can focus on adding new habits The Happy Philosopher shared an excellent analogy of “gators and kittens” for cultivating more happiness in our lives. While most of us work on accumulating more things that are warm, fuzzy, distracting and fun–in his analogy–kittens; we could benefit just as much as reducing the number of gators in our lives, A.K.A. stressors.
In our consumerist culture, we’re told to buy more things that will magically unlock happiness. When really, we would be happier with fewer things altogether. Fewer toys and more margin in our lives. Maybe a shorter commute or a less stressful job in exchange for more time. Luckily most of us on the path to FI know that new toys won’t make us happy, but can still benefit from getting rid of a few gators before we reach our FI number!
Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a practice. Regularly surrounding yourself with people, books, and habits that put you in a positive mindset is a great skill to cultivate and maintain.
While it’d be easier to simply work on happiness once a year and be done with it, as famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar notably stated, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that's why we recommend it daily.” The same can be said for happiness. Seeing the importance of fine-tuning and habit tweaking along the way leads to some wonderful gains along the way!
- 50 Ways To Improve Your Finances By 1%
- Podcast Episode: The Happy Philosopher–The Happiest Man In The Room
- Freedom Is Not Found At The Store: A Shopping Ban Experiment