Don’t roll your eyes at me! This is one of the most crucial ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life. Nearly all meditation studies dating back to the 1960’s have discovered that “consistent meditation” greatly improves positive emotions and reduces depressive episodes. Not to mention, it has shown to create slower brain waves (gamma waves) that increase relaxation and focus. Without watching how our mind works, we risk letting it run around on auto-pilot. And, if you haven’t noticed, our default auto-pilot settings are mostly busy, stressed, and unaware. Not to mention, without stillness, how will we ever be able to know what we truly want without all the internal garble, badgering us non-stop? Just imagine what meditating 10 minutes per day for 30 days could do for you.
Total Time: 300 minutes
I don’t just mean from your bed to your car, I mean…really move! A study by the National Institute of health showed that regular moderate cardiovascular exercise will greatly increase your dopamine output and dopamine reserves. Thus, more happiness! Not to mention, even light, regular movement has been shown to improve immune response, improve sleep, combat disease, boost energy, and control weight. So, subtract 5 hours of Netflix, Snapchat, or Facebook from your week and get moving! What would your body and mind feel like after 1 month of regular exercise?
Total Time: 1200 minutes
How many times have you been so absorbed in what you were doing that you forgot to eat or failed to eat when your body needed food. This is a reality for most of us. We then scarf down whatever food we can get our hands on and then move on with life. Later, we feel full and tired and then, interestingly enough, hungry again. This happens because this type of irregular eating has us on a blood sugar roller coaster. According to research published by the University of Illinois, eating regular meals and snacks at the same time every day helps stabilize blood sugar levels. When healthy meals and snacks are consumed on a regular basis, our body feels better, our minds feel better, and we feel happy! Add in 45 minutes per week for an extra shopping trip or some simple meal prep and let the good times roll!
Total Time: 180 minutes
Talk on the phone!
This one shouldn’t even take any extra time because, according to ComScore’s 2017 Future in Focus Report, Americans spend about 3 hours per day using their cell phones. What I’m suggesting is that you set aside intentional time for one, 30-minute, phone call per week where you call someone you care about and simply connect. Don’t just ask about the weather or how work is going; ask meaningful questions like, “What’s the best memory of your life?”, “What was your childhood like?”, or “What is at the top of your bucket list?” People will feel loved and connected through your curiosity and attention. Studies on happiness have shown that, at the end of one’s life, relationships were the #1 thing that they came to care about and remember the most.
Total Time: 120 minutes
Happiness is essentially like a game, except that it’s really not fun when you’re losing. In fact, it’s so easy and culturally acceptable to get “used to losing” that the bar has been lowered significantly. We just assume that being “busy” or “stressed” all the time is part of life. It is for most people but, it doesn’t have to be that way. When you’re in the flow of life, (and I’m sure everyone has experienced this to some degree) it doesn’t matter what’s going on in your external world. It doesn’t matter if someone cuts you off in traffic, what your bank account looks like, or if your partner is in a negative mood. You are just….happy. So how does anyone get really good at any game? They work with someone who is an expert in that field! Duh! Here’s the deal, you have your way of doing things and your way works as best as it can but, anyone wise person knows this: “You need a guide, you need a tribe, and you need to ask for help.” Without this, you are wandering through this game alone, probably missing out on a lot more happiness that you realize. Schedule one hour per week to talk to a coach or therapist who specializes in your area of struggle.
Total time: 360 minutes