I know, 2020 sucked, didn’t it?
But people always seem surprised when I tell them that my year 2020 was in fact, great. How so do you ask? Well, I’ve lost 50 pounds. I started Liveandhike. I now can run 20km without stopping. I had the pleasure of hiking some mountains, even if the border is close. I found a new routine, worked on myself so much more, now I can speed read through a book and remember 25 random items. All this gave me the pleasure to find so many tips to be happier.
Don’t get me wrong. I still miss having good times with my friend, seeing my family and singing karaoke with my friends. But one of the first things I learned in my new life is the power of positivity. See the good things in your life, and if you can’t do anything about the bad things, do not worry about them.
Are you interest in knowing more about these tips to be happier? Well, lets’ take a look at it!
A positive Mindset can bring you a long way.
Your day sucked. You go back home and tell everybody about how your day sucked. You continue to carry this negativity with you, and you bring it back home. Result? You had a bad day, and you can’t change anything about it. I’ve been there for a long time.
This is probably one of the big reasons why your year was not as nice as mine. Every day, I try to find one fun thing about the day. If there weren’t any fun things, I try to invent some. Make something fun of your day. Slowly, your attitude towards those bad days will change. When everything goes bad, don’t bring that back home or it will continue.
Flushing it down
A big part of changing is taking this negativity you keep down inside, give it a big hug and flush it down the toilet. You can literally flush your toilet while doing this. Trust me, it helps.
The smallest change in attitude can bring you a long way. You should smile for no reason in the morning. Smiling give your brain the message that you are happy, even if there is no reason. I smile when I run, so now my brain thinks running makes me happy. Guess what? It works!
Embrace life as it is given
We all have bad days but growing and making changes in your life should start with a positive mindset. Did you lose your job because of the pandemic? Embrace the free time it gives you to discover new skills, work on yourself and come back a better worker with new skills to ask for a promotion!
You don’t know what to do with all this free time because you can’t go out with your friends? Discover new hobbies, start working out from home, read self-help books, Implement my list of tips to be happier. The possibilities are endless. What were you doing with your time at home?
Create new habits to implement all the tips to be happier!
Everybody at your job eats junk food at lunch, your friends don’t work out and never see a reason why they should, you walk down to your job and you pass in front of the McDonald’s and you suddenly need to eat a burger? Those are all excuses we use to procrastinate when we want to change a habit. This year, with the pandemic, we had the chance to get out of those bad habits.
Unless you have a Harajuku moment (thanks to Tim Ferriss for this one), you will not be able to change all your life in one day. Humans are creatures of habit. You need to slowly shift your brain to create a new and healthy habit. This year, a lot of people had some free time, it is the best time to take adapt new habits with less of a bad influence in your entourage.
The tips that follow have been taken from the book atomic habits by James Clear*.
If you already try to have a positive mindset, it is time to apply this mindset to your habit. Shift the sentence you told yourself. Instead of I Need to work out, say I have the chance of working out. I had the pleasure of running today. Oh yes, I got to eat a healthy meal tonight! It is simple but crazy how your mind can slowly react to this positivity.
You can also start your new habit slowly. Running for 30 minutes sounds crazy? Start by running for five minutes. Or just start by putting your running shoes on! Slowly increase the time you run until your mind is used to the idea of running. You can’t develop a good habit by trying to do it all at the beginning. But if you learned to do it, you can implement all the tips to be happier easily!
I learned many more ideas to develops new habits, and I will teach them more in a further post.
Mindfulness for focus and tranquillity
When we had the first quarantine, I started panicking a lot. I am asthmatic, and in my past life, my immune system sucked a lot. So, when I learned I could be at risk, I panicked, and I even had difficulty working. This is where I started a daily meditation practice.
I never thought meditation would have so much effect on my life. But it did. I can now focus easily when I work. I now control my body and hunger way better than before. If I stress a lot or am overcome by anxiety, I just take a few deep breaths. I am even less prone to anger than before.
What is meditation?
I once heard that life is a great battle between your mind and your body. Your mind knows that all that sugar or too much food is bad for you. Your body wants this sugar rush or to feel full because of survival reasons. Meditation helps you control your mind better so it can win this battle.
Meditation is not about sitting and learning how to empty your mind. Because as you probably would have realized, if you stop thinking, you are probably dead. It is more about learning how to control your thoughts and be aware of them. The difference between knowing that you think about something and having control of it can be huge in life.
I can’t write that much about meditation because you have many people out there who write about it. But a fast tip to start meditation is to sit down with some nice music. Close your eyes and try to focus on your breath. Your mind is prone to wander, so what you need to do is acknowledge when you are thinking about something else and slowly bring back the focus to your breath. Every time you can do it is a win.
Meditation is probably the most valuable of those tips to be happier as it can help you with all the other aspects of your life. In Tim Ferriss podcast, he found out that a vast majority of the world elite practice a form of meditation. A lot of my tips to be happier come first from Tim Ferriss podcast. Take a look.
Great read or tool about meditation and mindfulness:
Dan Harris with the 10 % happier book*
Simple habit app: https://www.simplehabit.com/
Healthy diet to feel better.
Mental and physical health are so much more connected than what we let ourselves think. Did you ever realize that when you don’t exercise, eat a full bag of Doritos by yourself and sleep 4 hours at night, you will probably have a bad day after that? Taking care of our bodies helps us to take care of our minds.
For me, the shift wasn’t direct. But after a month, I started feeling better. The negativity cloud around me starts to vanish. My self-esteem, which was pretty low by this time, started to increase. 3 months after I started to improve myself and to have a healthier life, I realized that I haven’t been this happy in a long time.
Your body is taking you through so many things in life. Why aren’t we taking care of it? Why do we give our body scrap? Too much sugar is poison for the body. And every processed meal at the grocery store contains sugar. As I told you earlier, if you are stuck at home, working and don’t have any activity, it is the best time to start this healthy habit. No fast food on the car ride home to give you these easy meal ideas. And you certainly have more time to cook, right?
Taking baby steps to start any tips to be healthier is the best way. Start with one healthy meal a day. And slowly switch the other meals as it gets easier for you to eat a good meal. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the slow carbs diet or intermittent fasting. Two great ways to start having a healthy diet and help you lose weight.
If you don’t want to diet simply reduce your portions, adding more vegetables and cutting the BPP, bread, potatoes, and pasta can do a lot for you. Always remember, taking care of yourself is going through what you fuel your body with. Take care of your body.
Sports to have the energy to achieve anything
I know I will repeat myself here. But your body is what’s getting you through your everyday life. How often have you found yourself out of breath while climbing a set of stairs? Do you think it is good for your body to be out of breath so easily?
I am not writing this so tomorrow you become a full-grown athlete, but a minimum of exercise is a great way to keep your body young and full of energy. How often you see people trying to do things you feel your body can’t do anymore? Wanna know a great thing? Your body can. You only need to practice it.
The human body is incredible. Even if you are getting older, your body will get used to the exercise you give it, and suddenly, climbing those stairs will not seem so impossible. Last year, I couldn’t even run 5 minutes without getting totally exhausted. During this year’s first confinement, I got to 24 KM in 2 hours 15 minutes.
You don’t need to get there, but you can. And by only working out or practicing some kind of fitness activity, you will see a huge difference in your body. And as you do more sports, you will find out that you can now enjoy many more things in life, sleep better and have a better life in general.
Starting is hard. I know
And the further away you are, the harder it will be. I can’t give you a magic pill to help you move more. But exercising is a habit, and like I told your earlier, start slowly to develop the habit. Climbing one set of stairs a day or taking 5 minutes to walk every day is a great start.
Hiking is a great part of my life and an excellent workout to get in shape as it works your body and your cardio at the same time. You also enjoy the fresh outside air while doing it! Hiking is a sport that helped me to get through the hardest moments of my life. Want to take a look at how to start hiking? Read my article here.
You can also look at yoga, running or many workout videos on youtube. The resources for moving are unlimited.
Mental exercise to have a powerful mind with no limit
The last thing I found this year, thanks to us not having any activity to do is the power of the brain. Do you also find that you always forget things? Seems that you can’t focus, or maybe you always wanted to read more books, but you can’t read fast enough?
If you work your muscles over and over, they will get stronger over time, your brain is the same. Remember the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper? Even if it is a bit exaggerated, what if you could do this to your mind? The great news is you can. You only need to work at it. Exercising your brain is one of the best tips to be happier.
With the right motivation, we can do everything.
Often, we don’t know why we want to do something. Needing to do something is often not enough of a motivation. You need to find out your why, the greater reason for putting effort into something. The kind of motivation like living longer and better to enjoy life with your grandkids later.
Every night I work out my brain by working on my memory. I often had difficulty remembering easy things. I can now remember a full list of 25 words. I used to read 300 words by minutes. That was a lot for normal people. Now I can read 600 words by minutes, and I get faster every day. Can you imagine the number of books I can read like this?
Overall, that is why my year was great. The pandemic was bad, yes. But instead of self-loathing and having a bad mentality about all this, take the time to work on yourself. Life will never be easy. But only you can get it better. There are probably many more reasons why my year was awesome, but when I think about it, this is the centerline of all the changes happening in my life and probably the best way to be happier I can give you.
A great sentence I once heard was this: Are you happy right now? If the answer is yes, well, good job, continue what you are doing. If the answer is no, I have good news for you. You’re the only one that can do something about this.
No matter what’s happening in your life, the best time to start to change is right now.
Now go, be healthy and have fun!
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