By Gage Hanson
There’s a common misconception that to be happy you need to be successful. Hustle culture has created a society that values month-long trips to the Bahamas, six different cars and custom tailored suits as the pinnacle of human prosperity. However, you don’t need all of that to live happy. Some of the best self-care tips to live a happy and healthy life are simple, easily followed, and can be accessed by everyone on the planet.
While happiness is an intensely personal feeling and we all get there in completely different ways, there are five self-care tips that can bring a happy life closer to you.
Spend Time Outside
It wasn’t long ago that humans spent most of their time outdoors. Living, working, and playing indoors is a relatively new phenomena and while air conditioned buildings and couches are nice, they don’t promote a happy life or a healthy one.
Even if it is for just fifteen minutes at a time, you need to go outside. The health benefits are obvious. The sun gives your body access to vitamin D and the fresh air outdoors does wonders for your body. Even if you live in a big city and the air outside is heavily polluted, it is worth a fifteen minute drive to find a park where the air is much more breathable.
Spending time outside will make you feel more connected with nature and the world as a whole. You won’t have to do much more than take a walk and your mood will see incredible improvement. Add in the next step, and the results will multiply.
Be Accountable For Something
There’s a reason dog owners report a decline in depression symptoms. Adopting a pet, caring for plants, or even volunteering regularly at a daycare or humane society are all great ways to keep yourself happy and healthy. Every self-help guru I’ve ever respected has preached serving others as a great way to help yourself.
Holding yourself accountable to caring for something else motivates you to move, get out of the house, and get active.
Adopting a dog would undoubtedly help you spend time outside of your house and you would accomplish tips one and two in one go. However, if you aren’t ready for a pet, taking care of plants would be a good second alternative to keep you on a schedule and focused on helping another living thing.
Even volunteering will keep you accountable for something. You can help someone else be happy and live happy yourself in the process. From boys and girls clubs to soup kitchens, there are options for any time of time commitment or skill set.
Even if you aren’t a skilled artist that wants to live off of your creations, creative expressions are a quick way to living a healthier and happier life. There have even been studies that prove the correlation between creation and happiness.
You don’t have to be a master musician or professional painter either. There are a ton of hobbies that can be used as a creative outlet that don’t require tons of skill.
The list can go on and on. The point of it is that spending an hour a day doing something creative will make you feel more accomplished. Your mood will improve, leading to improved health and more happiness.
Feel Fully, Then Let Go
There are a lot of people that will tell you “don’t worry about it” or “don’t let it affect you.” While the intention of this type of sentiment is noble, it can lead to people bottling up emotions or not processing life events like they should.
David Hawkins’s book Letting Go describes a process of dealing with all ranges of emotions in a healthy way that will improve the quality of your life. In a distilled version: you let yourself feel the emotions as they come to you, you observe the reactions and thoughts that they cause, then you let them pass through.
It isn’t easy to accomplish this, especially at first, but if you practice being an observer of your own thoughts and actions, you will gain more mindfulness. This mindfulness will become better control of yourself as well as the ability to feel happiness when most other people are despairing over emotions they can’t properly process.
People often couple this method with meditation. Say that someone gets cut off while driving and lets this event ruin their whole day and put them in a bad mood. To improve on this situation, they should meditate on the event, realize that their anger does not change what happened, acknowledge the fact that they felt this anger, and then let go of the anger.
This methodical process leads to incredible learning and growth. As well as a naturally happy state. A state that is created even better by the next tip.
Live in the Moment
If you live in the present moment completely, it is almost impossible to not be happy. Anxiety and stress are often caused by worrying about the future. Guilt and shame come from stressing out about what happened in the past. If you forget the past and the future, the present is often a very happy place to be.
Even moments just as mundane as sitting on your phone reading this article are often overlooked by casual observers of the present. They don’t feel the weight of the phone in their hand, the sound of the cars driving past outside, or the faint smell of a barbecue in the distance. Too often, we don’t appreciate what is happening as it happens. We don’t consider the moment until it has passed.
If you really, truly want to be happy, you need to let go of the past and future. They are figments of our imagination.
The past is long gone, and the future always stays off in the distance.
The only thing that ever really exists is the present, so why let yourself be bogged down by fears of anything else.
Learn to appreciate each moment as it exists in the present.