Life can be a complicated endeavour. Between getting to work, paying the bills, bringing up children, finding time for your partner, and then there’s your families health and diet and well-being to consider. It is little wonder, that with all of the messages that are constantly thrown at us by the media, we find ourselves, constantly racing to catch up, to do better, to be better.
But is this what it truly means to live a happier life? Is contentment simply something that we need to relinquish in our desire to ‘keep up’ with what society tells us our life should be like? Happiness and contentment are not at the end of an accomplishment or the final resting place of success. Happiness and contentment comes with practise and with being present every day.
The 10 Simple Habits for a Happier, More Contented Life
Little steps and small changes can often reap rewards long term, so if you’re looking to find more meaning, more peace, and more contentment in your life, we encourage you to choose just one or two things off this list and practise making a habit out of it.
1. Write everyday
Whether you start or end the day with writing in your journal, it doesn’t really matter. The key here is to do it consistently. While it has often been said that there is power in the pen and paper, it is equally liberating to type, if that is what you prefer.
Write in the morning to embrace new possibilities and opportunities, allow your mind and imagination to wander as you write down whatever it is that comes to you. Flow is key here. Do not edit or censor what you write. Write for yourself alone and assume that whatever your write is private.
If you prefer to write just before going to sleep, chances are, you’ll be more inclined to reflective writing. Reflections of your day, appreciation and gratitude lists anything that puts you in to that quiet calming state of mind.
2. Start waking up earlier
It is surprising how much the effect of a mere 15 minutes more to your day can be. If you can wake up and get up, even just 10 minutes earlier, you’re likely to find yourself with a calmer more peaceful start for the day.
With just 10 minutes, perhaps you’ll have a little more time to get ready in the mornings, or maybe a slower, more fulfilling breakfast.
If you do manage more than 10 minutes, savour the time with yourself. Write in your journal, sip that mug of warming tea or savour the wonderful aroma of coffee.
Whatever you do, do NOT check social media or emails first thing in the morning.
3. Meditate or simply have some quiet time
Meditation seems to have become the general catch-all prescription for some sanity in the ridiculously demanding lifestyle of ours. It is true though, that some time with ‘nothing-ness’ can be refreshing and invigorating.
If you’ve not tried it though, trying to achieve the aim of a still, quiet mind, is actually more challenging than it sounds. While many perceive that to be the ultimate state of meditation, a more realistic and very achievable ‘sit’, would be to simply be present and be an observer of your thoughts.
Alternatively, find a meditation on youtube to listen to or sign up to Headspace
If meditation is simply not for you, aim to have some quiet alone time instead. Whether this means, writing in your journal, preparing for your day, or catching up on some reading, how you spend this time is not as important as simply having some ‘me’ time.
4. Be kinder to yourself
Of all the simple things to do to be happier and more contented, being kinder to yourself, while seemingly easy is possibly one of the most difficult.
We are, very often, our own harshest judges – whether that means negative self-talk, demanding expectations, or being unforgiving.
To be kinder to yourself, start first by checking your self talk. You know, that little voice in your head that has a response and a judgement for almost everything that you do.
Realise that you have to power to change what you say to yourself. Judge yourself less and be more gentle and more forgiving of yourself.
So instead of saying, ‘Stupid me. I shouldn’t have forgotten’. Say, ‘It’s okay, it’s no big deal. There’s always a next time.’
After all, if your best friend wouldn’t talk to you that way, why should you?
5. Say No to things you really don’t want to do
Learning to saying ‘No’ is both a skill and a practise. I know that I personally find it hard to simply say ‘no’ and often fall back on excuses that I think will make the other person feel better.
The truth is, when we learn to value ourselves more, we also learn that we do have a right to say ‘No’ and learning to do it without needing to provide an excuse.
Learn to say ‘No’ to spending time with people who do not value you
Say No to volunteering for things that you really do not want to do
Say No things that make you uncomfortable or unhappy
Just say ‘No’, especially when your heart tells you to.
6. Say Yes more often to your children
Conversely, if you have children, you’ll find yourself defaulting to a ‘No’ response almost all the time. Every now and then, say ‘Yes’ instead.
There might be more mess, or stress. You might have to take time out from the things that you were planning to do, it might be completely bonkers and bizarre, but somehow, saying ‘Yes’ when children least expect it, often lead to inspired, magical moments.
7. Believe that you deserve better and more
So many of us have dreams and desires, often not yet fulfilled, and in wanting and desiring, we sometimes begin to question whether we really deserve what we desire. It is in that second-guessing of ourselves that we chip away at our own self-worth and value.
Whatever your dreams, desires, hopes, goals and wishes, know that you are deserving of each and every one of them.
8. Enjoy what you have around you
Every now and then, try to look at your surroundings with new eyes, through a new perspective. Enjoy the people and things that you surround yourself with, whether it’s your messy kitchen table, or your beautiful music collection, each speaks to you and of you.
If there are items that no longer please you, or bring you joy – let them move on. Whether it is giving to a friend who would appreciate it more, or donating the item to Goodwill or to charity.
9. Walk outside everyday (preferably in Nature)
It is very easy to get caught up in our own bubble of tasks and to-do lists. To focus solidly on the things we need to get done and finish, we forget that there is a whole, much larger world out there, not necessarily waiting to be explored, but certainly to be appreciated.
The green of leaves, vast blue on a cloudless day, thunderstorms and rain drops, flowers of each season. There is much to get immersed in by simply being outside.
10. End each day with appreciation or write a gratitude list
And before you close your eyes to sleep at night, find all of the things which you are grateful that the day brought. Simple things like a yummy piece of cake, or a lovely cool drink on a hot summer’s day; or more vast embracing things like the bright roundness of the moon and the never ending landscapes on your journey to work.
However and in whatever you find appreciation, there too lies the secret key to forging a life of more happiness and greater contentment.