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Motivate Yourself 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life

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First of all I want to say a big "Thank You!” to all the subscribers of my Podcast.
Last month’s episode put me at number one in the UK iTunes Podcast Chart.

For personal development to be more important than anything else, even if it was for just a week, is a great thing, so well done.

This month I want to give you a quick Top 10 of the hints and tips that I talk about as a therapist when helping people to become happier.

1. Notice when you’re happy.
We rarely notice happiness when it’s actually happening you see. We often look back and say "I was happy then” or we look forward and say "I’ll be happy when…” but rarely do we say "I’m happy now.”
Happiness comes from living in the moment and cannot truly be based on a future event. You can look forward to something, of course, but if you’re not enjoying what’s happening NOW then looking into the future for happiness puts it on hold, robbing ourselves of the precious happy moments in the present.

2. Smile!
Research has shown that not only can being happy make us smile, but it also works the other way around and smiling can make us happy.
As long as we’re doing it naturally and our thoughts aren’t getting in the way that is. Don’t force a smile but then talk to yourself in your head telling yourself that you’re a phoney.
Let smiling become more natural to you.
Do things that make you smile. Watch funny comedies that make you laugh and ignore the news.
It can be tempting when you’re feeling miserable to watch a gloomy film and sit in a dark room but it’s rare that that would help, and with all the YouTube clips that people upload from TV shows and stand up comedians we’re not short of things that can cheer us up, we just need to put some effort in and look for them.

3. Thought control.
As I said there’s no point in your behaviour being that of a happy character if you’re telling yourself that your a loser, remember, the brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imaginary, so if you find that your putting yourself down or thinking about stuff that is only going to make you feel worse, you need to STOP!
Interrupt your thoughts the second you realise what you’re doing and deliberately move them onto something else.
This video will help explain more.

4. Slow any anxiety down.
Once you have control over your thoughts the next thing is to get control over your emotions. An emotion is just your intellectual interpretation of the sensations of anxiety.
If you feel anxious, nervous, panicky and you’ve recently done something that you shouldn’t have done, then the feeling becomes guilt.
If you know that you have a job interview the next day then the feeling is nervousness.
If you’ve got nothing to do but pick your nose and stare out of a window waiting for the phone to ring then the feeling probably gets interpreted as boredom.
But pretty much all emotion is based around the anxiety response, the fight or flight response, learn to slow that down and its a lot easier to get on with life.
So practise some deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate down and oxygenate your blood, this video will show you how.

5. Look at what you HAVE done rather than what you HAVEN’T.
So many people say that they are frustrated because they look at all the things that they want to do in life and feel disappointed that they haven’t achieved them despite the fact that there’s so much that they already have achieved.
It’s the same with goal setting, if you want to lose 3 stone in weight to only look at how far you have to go isn’t going to help motivate you.
But if you make an effort to notice the times that you choose something healthy, to notice how many inches have come off you in the past few months then you’ll feel better about it and are far less likely to give up.

6. Turn off your emails!
I remember a speaker at a conference 15 years ago talking about the importance of switching off emails in order to be more productive.
15 years ago!
Even then we could see that we were becoming slaves to technology, and nowadays it’s even easier for communication to intrude on our lives.
You don’t have to respond to every Tweet, Facebook post, email or text message. And thinking that you have to will make your life very difficult and for no reason!

7. Communicate well.
It sounds simple but Say "please” and "thank you” more than everyone else.
Make eye contact with people. If you struggle with eye contact look at their forehead instead, they will feel as if you're interested in what they have to say and you can learn how to make eye contact then, little by little, boosting your confidence.
But the secret to being the one at the party that everyone likes is to say less and listen more. Research has shown that the person rated the highest in social situations is the one that joins in on conversations but actually says very little.
Yet so many clients say to me that they struggle with social situations because they can't think of anything to say. Turns out we don't need to actually!

8. Make more time to spend with your friends and family.
Social interaction reminds our instincts that we aren't alone, that we're safe and the big bad wolf isn't going to get us. If you already have people in your life that you can spend time with then do. It's much easier to reconnect with old friends than it is to make new ones.

9. Each day do at least one thing to make someone else happy.
Turns out from research at the University of Exeter that we're happier when we're helping other people.
Volunteering makes us happier and even makes us live longer! Maybe it's because of my previous suggestion of keeping in touch with people as its an effective way to override feelings of disconnection in our increasingly online lives.

10. Mental relaxation.
Mindfulness, Hypnosis, Meditation. Whatever you want to call it is a real permanent gateway to happiness.
Studies have continually shown that mental relaxation boosts positive feelings and psychological well-being, in addition to warding off stress, depression and anxiety.
It’s relatively easy to learn and gives you a technique that will stay with you forever. Remember that everything that gets repeated will become an unconscious ability. You end up being able to do something with less and less effort, like walking and talking it soon becomes second nature.
So the more time you can spend with a peaceful mind the harder it becomes to be unhappy or worried, it helps you leave the past in the past and enjoy the now, and I recommend it to everyone that I see in therapy. There are some free downloads available here to get started.

So, in short.
Take some deep breaths, learn to control your thinking so you can live in the moment, switch off technology, practice some hypnosis and make time to see friends and family.
And if there’s something I’ve missed let everyone know on the Facebook page. or tweet me @richardnicholls

Take care
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