What would make your life better? A new house or car? A bigger paycheck or bank account?
It’s easy to want more when you think of being happier and living better. And there’s little doubt that money can buy some (more) happiness.
But the happiness we get from money is fundamentally limited. It leaves us wanting more, and it’s not enough on its own to enjoy a truly satisfying life.
The reality is a lot of the things that can make us happy and enrich our lives have nothing to do with money. And some of the things that may bring us the most joy could already be within our reach.
What are they and how can they improve our lives? Here are 7 LITTLE upgrades that can make life better in BIG ways:
1. Go Outside.
As little as 20 minutes outdoors can make you happier and healthier. Even if you don’t exercise, simply being outside can be good for your mind and body. It can relax you and lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels. And it does not take long to feel the effects.
Some doctors are even writing “nature prescriptions” these days. They prescribe time outdoors for all sorts of conditions.
2. Say “No” to Things that Drain You.
All of us do it – scramble for time. We often are caught saying “we’re too busy” to enjoy life.
Whenever we get busy and stressed for time, it’s often our own psychology (not the clock) that’s the source of our stress. In fact, we tend to feel the most pressed for time when it seems like we don’t have control over our schedules.
Saying NO to activities that drain us can help put a stop to that. It’s best to identify these activities, delegate what you can, and set up boundaries such as “off-limit days. Don’t be afraid to say NO to extra favors.
3. Practice Gratitude Daily.
Gratitude is closely linked to happiness and wellbeing. When we appreciate the things that bring us joy, we focus on positive words and emotions. That positivity can radiate inward and outward, benefitting both the person expressing gratitude and the recipient of it.
Gratitude is a mood and relationship booster. It strengthens immune systems and promotes better sleep. Try expressing gratitude (at least) once a day! Write a thank-you note or email. Think about the 3 things you were most thankful for that day…you’ll be better for it.
4. Prioritize Self-Care.
Amazingly half of us put self-care on the back burner because “we don’t have enough time”. Doing that just makes things harder on ourselves. It’s harder to stay connected to things that matter.
Invest in some genuine self-care. We’re talking about basic things like eating healthy, getting good sleep, and exercising regularly. Nurture yourself and prioritize self-care above getting that last task of the day accomplished.
5. Don’t Let Negativity Take Over.
Oh boy, do I see this in abundance! Negativity can have a place in our lives, but optimism can do a lot more for our health and happiness. Studies show that optimists have a lower risk of heart disease as well as beating cancer than pessimists do.
Not that we want optimism to leave us blind to real risks, but I do think that we all can strike a balance of staying positive while navigating life’s challenges. I’d recommend thinking about the positive things of your day, no matter how rough it might have been. And always try to turn disappointments into learning lessons.
Volunteering not only supports causes you care about, but it’s also personally rewarding. It can strengthen social connections and give you greater sense of purpose. The benefits of volunteering can be enriching and fulfilling.
Consider your interests and find opportunities that might be a good fit. Start small if you have to and see if you can put in an hour or two a week as support. Remember, it should be fun (and not draining)!
7. Nurture Your Relationships.
Good, strong relationships benefit our health and well-being…this is no secret. Beyond making us happy, we get emotional support from people through tough times. Psychologically, this can help give us better coping skills and improve our quality of life.
Good relationships have been shown to boost our immune systems and help us live longer. Positive relationships are also linked to people making higher incomes. Who doesn’t want that?
So try and connect with at least one person you love, every day. Listen to them, show understanding, and don’t jump to conclusions. Admit mistakes and apologize if you are wrong. And find small ways to show that you care, even if it’s the smallest, thoughtful compliment.
For most of us, the barriers to being happier come down to a few things—our attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and fears.
Living better doesn’t mean we have to make radical changes. And we don’t have to wait for some benchmark or goal post to start enjoying life more.
With a few simple upgrades, we can reshape the way we experience life every day. And we’re likely to be happier and healthier for it.
That sounds simple. And it is.
So, what stops us from getting there? And why can happiness and a better life feel elusive sometimes?
The answer can be different for everyone.
For most of us, though, the barriers to being happier come down to a few things—our attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and fears.
Lesson: The Things Holding You Back Could Be In Your Power to Change
We can start to break down those barriers by not trading what we really want in life for what we want right now. And we can stay in touch with what we really need to be happy and live better by staying connected to the people we trust.