Lucie Resteau outlines the practical steps you can take to make yourself happier.
As a vegan or even someone who is simply curious about veganism, we all share this interest for a healthy lifestyle, respecting our planet more, its people and its animals. The shift towards veganism comes, no doubt, with questions about ourselves and undoubtedly about our happiness. Because after all, the human life is all about how to make ourselves and people around us happy. The good news is that as you are already questioning and reconsidering your lifestyle, you are already a step further than most people who ‘just’ live. As Eckhart Tolle said, “With awareness there comes choice. And so you are able to say: “I allow this moment to be as it is”. And then, suddenly, where before there was irritation, there is now a sense of aliveness and peace. And out of that comes right action.”
Then, it is just a matter of knowing what the keys are to unlock our happiness potential and apply them in our daily life. Based on the latest research coming from Positive Psychology – the science that studies human wellbeing and happiness – the Action for Happiness movement has scientifically identified 10 keys that can support your quest for a flourishing life, for living your great dream.
1. Giving Do things for others
When was last time you helped someone without expecting anything in return? Did you experience a feeling of lightness, peace and contentment? Our brain is powerfully wired to release endorphins when we have altruistic behaviours. These behaviours include giving money, time, energy or ideas to help people around us.
Easy real-life action: 3 random acts of kindness
Random acts of kindness are spontaneous, genuine and selfless gestures towards others, our planet or animals. Try it out today and offer to help a person to cross the road, give your change away to the waitress at a café, or make someone smile.
Connecting with others
People who have strong relationships with family, friends, and more generally with others, are happier, healthier and live longer. Indeed, our social relationships are powerful tools to increase feelings of self-worth, belonging, support, and love. It is part of human nature, we are social creatures; our survival and evolution have always depended on it.
Easy real-life action: Make time for others
Whether it is calling a friend you haven’t heard from for a long time, or getting involved in a community project, you can find thousands of ways to connect with people around you. Don’t forget to take into consideration the person you are. If you love being surrounded by many people, connecting with a big community could be your happy tip. If you are more of a one-to-one person, getting involved in activities for smaller groups might suit you better.
Take care of your body
It is impossible to dissociate a happy mind from a happy body. When we take care of our body, it automatically increases our mood. It’s not only about physical activity, we’re talking about taking care of your body generally.
Easy real-life action: Give your body the care it needs
Depending on your current lifestyle, ask yourself what your body needs right now. Whether it is more physical activity through walking to work, going to the swimming pool, or taking a step back and getting a good night’s sleep, a few days rest, or a relaxing massage because you’ve been very active recently, only you have the answer to what suits your body.
Be in the present moment
Being in the present moment (i.e. being mindful) is a hot topic right now and this is for a good reason. It has an incredible impact on our wellbeing. It helps us to get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By being more aware of what is happening in our mind, body and around us when it is happening, we can make choices about the way we react and ensure we are aligned with what we really want.
Easy real-life action: Empower your mindfulness skill
Start with taking 5 minutes a day just focusing on your breath. Paying attention to the movements of your chest while breathing in and breathing out. If your mind wanders – which is what the mind does – gently bring it back to the body and the awareness of the feelings generated by your breath. Find more info at www.stepforchange.co.uk/resources.
5. Trying out
Learning new skills, sports, or more generally learning something new is an important part of our life-long wellbeing journey. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and boosts our self-confidence. Whether it’s gaining a qualification through formal education, or learning skills benefiting from our friends, family, or colleagues’ expertise, the only thing that matters is that you learn something new.
Easy real-life action: Dare to try something new today
Try to change your habits and do things slightly differently than usual. It can be as simple as buying a different newspaper, changing the route you take to work to discover new places, or go to visit a place you have always said you wanted to visit in your own city.
Have goals to anticipate
If it is important to live in the present moment for our happiness, it is equally important to feel positive and excited about our future. Having goals motivates us, gives us a sense of direction and purpose in the present moment. It also brings us a feeling of accomplishment when we achieve these goals. It is all good to dream, but after thinking about our dreams, we need to make them happen.
Easy real-life action: Take a first step towards a dream
Do you have a goal you want to achieve this year? It’s time to write it down and think about the first step you need to take to reach it. When it’s done, go for it. Don’t let your mind distract you. Just commit to what you have written.
Create personal tricks to bounce back
The human life is full of challenges and difficult times, we cannot choose whether to go through these or not. However, what we can choose is the way to react to these life challenges. Resilience is about creating your own personal way to bounce back.
Easy real-life action: Think of something you do in daily life that brings feelings of joy and peace.
Write it on a small piece of paper or sticky note. Next time you are facing a challenging time, take the note and do what is written on it. It might seem simple, and it is. It can be that simple to bring you back to a more peaceful and joyful you.
Bring positive emotions on
No surprise here, experiencing positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, pride, contentment, serenity, interest, hope, amusement, awe, inspiration or love are great ways to boost your happiness. They are also contributors to our self-confidence, help us to perceive life on the bright side, improve our physical health and our resilience.
Easy real-life action: Find three good things a day
Every night, before you go to bed, think back over your day and remember three good things that happened, things that went well, that you enjoyed or were grateful for. These can be small (e.g. a delicious sandwich or a child smiling) or of bigger importance to you. You’ll probably find it varies. Try doing this for a week to start with.
Accept, be, love yourself
Self-acceptance is about accepting the good and the bad in us and work with them. It’s all about being kind to ourselves. We all have our perfections and imperfections and that is what makes us unique.
Easy real-life action: Challenge self-negative thoughts
Next time you have a negative thought about your self-worth coming to mind, take a minute to ask what you would say to a friend in the same situation. The more you practice, the easier and the more automatic it will become, and the more you are going to live as you are.
Be part of something bigger
What’s your life purpose? This is a big question that you could maybe translate into “What do you really believe in and is bigger than yourself?” For some the answer is religion, or spirituality, for others it is about love, fairness, being involved in a local community, taking care of their relatives, or performing at their job.
Easy real-life action: Take action to prevent things that upset you
Think about something that upset you in the world around you. It can be linked to people, climate, animals, ecology, etc. Then find a way to use your strengths to change this at your scale. For example, if ecology is important to you, you could decide to use your talent for inspiring people to start recycling more of their waste.
Lucie is passionate about empowering people to live their life fully and authentically. She graduated with a Master in Clinical Psychology, a Master in Positive Psychology, and got a certification in Hypnotherapy. She is currently training to become a Kinesiology Practitioner. Since 2011, she has worked with her clients as a Wellbeing Therapist.