By Theo Winter
This post shares a mix of time-tested, unconventional, and research-backed tips for improving your health and well-being.
1) Let Death Refocus Your Priorities Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life."
2) Lower Your Expectations, or Upgrade Your Reality Happiness = Reality – Expectations.
3) Subtract Much of our unhappiness stems from clutter: meetings for the sake of meetings; friends we don't really want to see; home goods and gadgets we don't really need but consume anyway. Movements like minimalism and "via negativa" teach that elimination, not addition, is the wiser path to peace of mind.
4) Study Stoicism Stoicism is an ancient philosophy enjoying modern resurgence that is concerned with practical wisdom, self-control, and mental toughness. The best-known stoics are Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.
5) Don't Sweat What Others Think While it may sound a little depressing, one of the most liberating facts about humans is that they spend almost all of their time focused on their own concerns. No one really cares if you look stupid.
6) 5x5 Rule If it's not gonna matter in 5 years, don't spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it.
7) Switch Off the News Next to nothing in the news is useful or important long term. Be extremely judicious about what headlines and stories you allow through your digital filter.
8) Limit Social Media While there is mixed research on the link between happiness and social media use, common strategies suggest trying a 1-week detox, setting a 30-minute daily time limit, and using social media as a reward or treat instead of regular amusement filler.
9) Try 15 Minutes of Meditation a Day for 2 Weeks Mindfulness meditation often creates noticeable, positive change within a couple of weeks.
10) Spend More Time Connecting According to the famed Grant Study (a 75-year-old Harvard study on adult development), good quality relationships are the most important factor in keeping us healthy and happy.
11) Volunteer Studies have shown that people who volunteer tend to live longer and report greater happiness.
12) Perform a Random Act of Kindness “If you’re depressed right now and you ask me ‘What’s the single most mood-lifting thing I can do?’ it’s to go out an help another person.” — Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association.
13) Don’t Waste Time Arguing on the Web Winston Churchill famously said: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
14) 1 Minute Bursts of Exercise Many people have heard that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, but few of us want to spend 40+ minutes at the gym. In that case, the following article may change your life: "1 Minute of All-Out Exercise May Have Benefits of 45 Minutes of Moderate Exertion". (The headline really says it all.)
15) More Sunlight Called the "Ignored Epidemic," low vitamin D is linked with a range of health problems, and millions are deficient in the sunshine hormone.
16) Less Sugar Sugar is ubiquitous in the Western diet and most people (knowingly or unknowingly) are absorbing way too much. Besides being unhealthy, a number of studies suggest excess sugar can make you sad.
17) Eat More Fruit & Veg A study of 12,000 adults found that adding 2-8 daily portions of fruit and veg could significantly increase happiness.
18) Take Probiotics There is emerging research indicating probiotics (which improve gut health) may improve your mood.
19) Listen to Neuroscience-Backed Tracks Researchers have measured brain activity as well as physiological states and discovered the kinds of songs that are best at reducing stress. Weightless by Marconi Union was most effective overall.
20) More Sleep Next to proper diet and exercise, adequate sleep is one the most fundamental pillars in mental clarity and good health, yet it's estimated that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep.
21) More Warm Light, Less Blue Light Does light affect your mood? I don’t know where the science sits on this exactly. It’s more of a personal observation over many years: warm/amber light seems to have a calming effect, whereas too much blue light exposure (most offices) creates unnecessary eyestrain. Test it for yourself.
22) Build a Sanctuary Create a scrapbook, a photo library on your computer, or start a Pinterest account where you'll be able to save images and ideas that inspire, relax, and take your mind to its happy place.