Happiness. While there are many definitions of it, in simple terms, we can think of it in one or both of two ways, says psychologist Dr Tim Sharp aka Dr Happy.
“Firstly, happiness is one of many positive emotions, along with joy and excitement, calm and satisfaction, that are all important for our mental health,” he says. “Secondly, happiness is also sometimes used to refer to the experience of living a good life. This includes — among other things — positive emotions but also good physical health and wellbeing, meaning and purpose, hope for the future and positive relationships.”
But although positive relationships are one of the most important contributors to happiness, Dr Sharp says there’s no reason people can’t be happy on their own. “The bottom line is, we all need to find our own way to apply and combine happiness strategies,” he says.
So, that said, here are Dr Sharp’s top five ways to help you be happier on your own.
Give Yourself Goals
“Set and work towards meaningful goals, and then reward yourself when you complete them,” he says. “Although it’s nice to receive praise and recognition from others, self-reinforcement and self-recognition are important for stable happiness and wellbeing.”
Take Care of Your Physical Health
“Exercise and a good diet are good for our bodies, but they’re also good for our minds and our psychological wellbeing,” Dr Sharp says. “Regular exercise is, in fact, one of the most effective stress-busters, anti-depressants and mood enhancers.”
Ben Richards, personal trainer at Snap Fitness adds: “Self-care is so important to not only ourselves, but it’s good for everyone around us.”
“Movement and exercise are core tools to happiness and can be incorporated into our daily lives. They’re an easy way to set healthy habits that are sustainable in the long-term. Focus on small steps and prioritise goals intended to make you ‘feel great’ and avoid those intended to change, ‘improve’ ourselves or keep up with others.”
Foster Hope and Gratitude
“There are always bad people and bad things in the world; but there are also good people doing good things all the time,” says Dr Sharp.
“Unfortunately, much of our media focuses on the former much of the time. But if we actively search for and savour the good things, if we’re grateful for what we have rather than lusting after that which we don’t have, we can enjoy more positive emotions more of the time.”
Prioritise Positive Relationships
“When it comes to happiness, there’s no doubt that other people matter,” says Dr Sharp. “This can involve loving others, but also allowing others to love us. And if you’re on your own, or for whatever reason have limited connections with others, then the relationship you have with yourself is just as, if not more important! So, develop that through self-love and self-compassion.”
Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
“And finally, don’t forget to have fun,” says Dr Sharp. “Life’s way too important to take too seriously. Sure, we all have responsibilities, and these need to be attended to. But play and laughter, fun and games are energising and inspiring and will only add to our ability to live and succeed in life.”