Happiness is the elevated state of being we all desire to achieve. According to Aristotle, everything we do, we do to be happy. It’s the ultimate answer to some of the biggest questions in life, however, what happiness means to each of us is completely individual and depends on subjective factors such as our personality, genetics, culture, and so on.
In some of our previous articles, we shared tips on how to be happy, as well as how to move from happiness to flourishing in five simple steps. We’ve also discussed why we sabotage our own happiness and how to stop chasing happiness and start enjoying our lives. This time, we’re sharing something completely simple and applicable to anyone: healthy habits that seem to be universal for all people who generally feel happy, passionate about their lives, people who follow their purpose, and have a positive attitude.
There are numerous studies, philosophies, and self-help books discussing what happiness is and how to achieve it. And while understanding the nature of happiness and knowing which steps to take to achieve it is important, the little background processes that happen on a day-to-day basis are none less worth applying.
What we’re talking about are some daily habits that have paved the way towards happiness for a lot of people. So, let’s go over 10 happiness-boosting habits that’ll make you a happier, healthier, and more successful person.
1. They Get Good Quality Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal for most healthy adults. Of course, some would need a bit more, some less––either way, we all have our personal threshold for what we consider a good quality sleep.
Proper sleep is necessary for achieving balance in our lives, being in a good mood, as well as for maintaining proper mental and physical health. If, however, sleep deprivation takes over someone’s life, there can be some very negative consequences. People who are sleep-deprived usually experience drops in productivity due to a lack of focus, cognitive speed, and flexibility. Lack of sleep also hinders our mood and makes us cranky, nervous, or anxious.
Research states that it’s best to go to sleep between 10 pm and midnight and wake up somewhere between 6 am and 8 am. Of course, there are exceptions when our jobs don’t allow such a rhythm or if we’re nightbirds and enjoy staying up late.
Sometimes, with all the work we do and the pressure we put on ourselves to be productive all the time, we cut back on our sleeping hours just to make the day last a bit longer. What we’re not aware of is that, in the long run, not only does this make us less productive and slower, but it also drains the happiness out of us.
The bottom line is that good quality sleep is the basis for happiness. Without fulfilling this basic human need, it’s difficult to aim for higher goals. Here's a step-by-step guide of what you can do in the evening to prepare yourself for a good night sleep.
2. They Wake Up Early
Quiet, slow mornings and early sun give us the most energy to get through the rest of the day. They bring calmness and the energy of a new beginning. Happy people use their mornings to start their day on their own terms and engage in mindful routines and rituals like exercise, spiritual practices, journaling, reading, or some quality alone time before the hectic schedule kicks in.
Because we’re all so different, there’s no optimal time for waking up. The most important is to get those 6 to 9 hours of sleep for a well-rested mind and body. The key here is to not press the snooze button, because it will only make you more tired.
If you want to get more done in a day, we strongly recommend waking up early on purpose, between 6 and 7 am. That way, you leave enough time to yourself to do things that are important to you and set intentions for a day before you enter your work mode and flow.
3. They Are Lifelong Learners
How you spend your free time is a matter of choice, but, at this point, we need to emphasize that life is a constant learning process that leads to happiness. If you want to stay connected to your purpose, grow, develop your worldview, skills, and your personality, unleash your full potential, and be the best version of yourself, then choose a growth mindset approach to what you do over making excuses, doom scrolling, or procrastinating.
Blogs, books, poetry, podcasts, documentaries, music, foreign languages, software, workshops, university courses, creative activities––it’s all good, as long as you challenge yourself to leave a comfort zone, keep your mind engaged, explore new things, and allow your creativity to bloom.
4. They Engage in Meditation
Spending time with ourselves and our thoughts, alone but not lonely, while meditating and contemplating––this is one of the most important habits of happy and self-aware people.
Meditation provides us with clarity of who we are and helps us find inner peace, and it’s a great way of practicing mindfulness, being present, developing our intuition, and staying in sync with our inner self. In time, as you stay consistent with your meditation practice, you will notice how being alone with your thoughts and listening to your inner voice can lead you to clear life vision later on.
5. They Have a Sense of Purpose
Most happy people know exactly why they do what they do and each of their actions has its place on the long journey of achieving success and being happy. There is no such thing as universal purpose, and no one can tell you what your purpose is. Despite that, the purpose is the most important guidance in our lives. It gives us a sense of meaning and fulfillment.
Since success is a subjective concept that we tend to redefine and tailor to our own goals and metrics, it is crucial to know what matters most in your life. Your purpose is why you wake up this morning and why you manage to get through difficult moments. It’s also the underlying reason why we’re happy or satisfied in life––because we are living up to our purpose.
Finding your purpose will help you get clarity on why you do what you do, so all your actions are aligned with your purpose.
6. They Prioritize Nature Time
We can not stress enough how important it is to get out of the concrete jungle at least once or twice a week and reconnect with nature and your true self. Spending time in the woods or taking a walk in the park helps us engage in daydreaming, find our place in the universe, and make an important decision of what to do next. Nature is like free therapy that also fuels our body and calms our nerves.
If you’re a hard-working individual, spending time in nature can be an excellent way to destress after work. You can also go to the nearest park and enjoy the smell of trees and greenery during your lunch break.
Just like a healthy diet, spending time in nature won’t give you instant results when it comes to how happy you feel, but it will impact your mood, clear your mind, and make you feel more grateful and connected to your true self over time.
7. They Invest in Their Relationships
The meaningful relationships, strong bonds, and social connections are one of the biggest happiness indicators that play an enormous part of who we are and how we feel. They shape our mind frame and wellbeing and contribute to our mood and life attitude, efficiency, creativity, and overall contentment.
Happy people invest their time, energy, and attention into building and nurturing relationships that matter. They have friends of different ages, they do their best to make and spend quality time with their loved ones, and are committed to build their romantic relationships on strong pillars.
While knowing how to spend time alone is very important, it’s also important to understand that humans are social animals and we need to develop emotional intelligence skills to ensure our connections remain strong and authentic.
8. They Practice Visualization
Many happy people regularly use their imagination to envision their life and plan their future in a positive, rather than anxious or catastrophic way.
They visualize their deepest dreams and highest goals, how they’ll get there, how they’ll feel, and so on. They also prime their brain by positive thinking and practicing affirmations.They do this by setting clear intentions, creating their life vision, setting achievable goals, and remaining grateful for everything they have now, while manifesting the life of their dreams.
Don’t know where to start? In this podcast episode of The Ikonns, Santiago Arana shares his tips for visualization.
9. They Move Their Body Each Day
Exercise and body movement are important sources of hormonal and neurotransmitter balance, as these activities help us produce oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins–– the chemical bases of happiness.
Physical activity, consequently, makes us more productive and mentally sharp, as well as more enthusiastic, confident, and engaged in our own lives. We need to use our bodies to keep them healthy, and we need healthy bodies to be happy and build the life of our dreams. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re having trouble fitting exercise into your daily routine, consider taking a 30-day exercise challenge to help you get inspired for more far-reaching exercise goals.
10. They Eat Healthy and Clean
How we eat has a lot to do with how we feel and live. Fast food, sugar, and irregular meals are all harmful to our health if consumed on a daily basis.
You’ve probably seen many celebrities promoting healthy whole foods that help them maintain their energy levels and improve their health. Maybe this isn’t the source of their happiness, but it is an important contribution to resilience and emotional balance.
Having breakfast every day, regular, healthy meals (mostly plant-based), and drinking enough water, while limiting sugar, dairy, white wheat, and alcohol intake will help us detox our body, and, with that, clear our minds.
Habit change is not a guarantee for happiness, but it is an important and inspiring step towards achieving it. Healthy habits geared towards self-improvement can only elevate things and make them better.
Do you already practice any of these habits? Which one do you think you could implement right now?