As a general rule, we often think of ways to make our life happier that are sort of self-contained. We think about meditating more, doing yoga, taking bubble baths, or other of these types of things. We live in a society where we’re so individualistic that we think of even happiness as something we have to figure out alone. I’ve found that it is very often our day-to-day interactions with others that makes the difference in our own happiness.
So, without further ado, I’ll give you my list of 8 things you can do with others that will make your life happier. And just as an added bonus, doing things very often has the effect of making someone else’s life happier too! How cool is that?
Hug your family, your child(ren), partner, friends, and/or pets every day (multiple times, even).
Research actually shows that hugging can be effective in healing illness, depression, loneliness, and anxiety and in reducing stress. Hugging can increase your levels of “feel good” and necessary brain chemicals, such as serotonin and oxytocin which are extremely beneficial to your health and wellness.
Hugging relaxes you and boosts your self-esteem. The nurturing quality of hugs helps us feel safe and helps us to open up for better communication. Hugging can help relieve pain and soothe aches and pains. They can actually balance your nervous system, and they can strengthen your immune system by stimulating the thymus gland.
Hugs have a quality like meditation and laughter. They help us to let go of our cares for the moment and just be present. Hugging teaches us about giving and receiving and caring for each other. Hugs improve our lives through the energy investment and empathy that is inherent in them. Hugs are tiny miracles that can truly change the state of your health – mind, body, and spirit! Hugging others can make your life happier, almost instantly!
***I realize that past trauma can make it harder sometimes for people to feel safe or even comfortable hugging others. If this is you, I would encourage you to start slow. Maybe just start with your kids (if you have them) and your pets (if you have them). If you can’t do those things, maybe try hugging a stuffed animal or a pillow at first. Hugging can be a great way to get a release of feel-good chemicals into your brain, but if it is difficult for you to do, don’t try to force yourself.***
Cuddle With Someone
Cuddle… with your mate, with a pet, or with yourself, but take time to really relax and feel the warmth of cuddling.
Cuddling is like an extended hug! If you take all the benefits of hugging (see #1), extend them, and amplify them, those are the benefits of cuddling! What an easy and delightful way to make an improvement in your life!
Bonus: Here’s a relationship improvement tip. If you have a partner and you make it a priority to find time to cuddle with them, you’ll not only see the improvement for yourself, but you’ll likely also see that your relationship (and maybe even your sex life) improves, as well!
Cuddling, like hugging, releases feel-good chemicals into your brain which makes you feel happier. So, cuddling more often definitely can make your life happier!
*** As with hugging, I realize that past trauma can make it harder sometimes for people to feel safe or even comfortable cuddling with others. If this is you, I would encourage you to start slow. Maybe just start with your partner or your kids (if you have them) and your pets (if you have them). If you can’t do those things, maybe try cuddling a stuffed animal or a pillow at first. Cuddling can be a great way to get a release of feel-good chemicals into your brain, but if it is difficult for you to do, don’t try to force yourself.***
Don’t Be the First One to Let Go of the Hug
When your child (or partner, or friend) hugs you, don’t be the first one to stop hugging.
When my kids were little, this was one of the best pieces of advice that was ever given to me. This one almost can’t be explained… it just has to be experienced. Try it with every hug you engage in with a loved one over the next couple of weeks, and pay attention to what it does for you and your relationships. I bet you’ll notice an improvement in your life very quickly! It will make your life feel better and happier! I promise.
And parents – take my advice – if your children are still small, make this your policy for every hug with them. All too soon they will decide they are “too grown up” to really hug you anymore and will be all the more grateful for having followed this advice.
Work on Your Social Skills
Go places where you will meet new people, and don’t hide in the corner when you go.
This can be a hard one for some people. It can be uncomfortable to walk into a room of strangers or to try new things with new people. But the benefits of doing this far outweigh the discomfort, believe me!
Getting more comfortable with meeting new people improves your self-confidence and self-esteem. It can help you uncover hidden gifts and talents inside yourself. Being more social can help lift your spirits and meeting new people can help you find solutions to problems and challenges in your life. Plus, it helps you get better at discernment – you’ll soon be good at deciding what kinds of things and people you like (or don’t like) – what you want more of and what you want less of in your life!
Need some ideas on how to do this? Join Meetup.com and try out a few different groups and activities that interest you. Go to a new church or place of worship. Join a local service organization or volunteer at a local charity. Go to a new club or bar. Sign up for dance lessons or an exercise class. Volunteer at a language learning school to have conversations with people who are just learning your native language. There are tons of ways to find new things to do and new people to do them with! Use your imagination… or just ask a friend or co-worker for suggestions.
Working on your social skills can really be a great way to make your life happier. You might be amazed at what great things are out there, just waiting for you to show up!
Say “I Love You” Frequently
Start a new habit of saying “I love you” to your family and friends, every time you part from them. And say it every time you go to hang up the phone. And say it in texts and emails. And say it on social media.
It’s so funny to me that we have made saying “I love you” a thing that you’re only supposed to say to your spouse or partner, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and your immediate family. I think we should practice saying “I love you” to our friends and our pets and really, anyone who makes a difference in our lives. And practice saying it regularly. Even if it feels awkward at first, just start doing it. If you are worried that someone may “take it the wrong way” start by telling the person what you are doing, and that it doesn’t mean anything but that you feel you benefit from that person being in your life. It will get easier as you go along.
I tell all my friends that I love them. And I do it frequently. It’s not weird and honestly, it has only served to strengthen my friendships. I never hang up the phone with my kids or my other family members without saying “love you” before I do, and in this way, I know that no matter what else happens, they will know that I love them. And honestly, I make it a habit to say “I love you” even to people who are social media friends. Some, I’ve never even met in person. I’ve just gained a reputation as a lady who loves people. It’s not weird. It makes my life happier. And I think it makes other people’s lives happier too. It might just make your life happier, as well. Give it a try!
Spend Time With Those You Like and Admire
Find people you like and admire, and make it a point to spend time with those people.
This may seem a little silly, in a way. But if you really think about your life, how often do you end up spending most of your time with people you barely like, find tedious, or just tolerate, or that you are just kind of bored being around? Our work and school lives, our meetings and other functions – we end up spending a lot of time with people we don’t really like or admire – for whatever reason.
So, make it a point to seek out time to spend with others that inspire us. Spend time with people who make you laugh. Spend time with people you admire or adore in some way. Spend time with people you truly like and enjoy getting to know more about. Make it a point to do this. Make it a point to put time with these people on the calendar. Make it a point to call someone up and invite them to do something with you. Just make it a point to spend more time with those you like and admire.
We may not always have a choice about who we spend time with, due to obligations and other kinds of life commitments, but what we can do is purposely increase the time we spend with people who in one way or another make our life happier!
Make Someone Smile
If you are feeling sad or low, think of something you could do right now to make someone else smile.
This can be something big or something small. It can be a grand gesture, or it can be a simple act of kindness. Just thinking about a way to make someone else smile can start to make your life happier right away. When you think about how you’ll make them smile, you almost automatically start smiling, yourself. And then when you do the thing to make the other person smile, you get a double dose of something that makes your life happier!
Honestly, it just isn’t very hard to make someone else smile. You can tell them a funny joke. You can send them a funny meme. You can write them a heartfelt note that warmly tells them how much they mean to you. You can send flowers or some other unexpected gift. Sometimes just an unexpected phone call to say, “I was just thinking about you and wondered how you were doing” is more than enough to get the smiles going!
It’s not hard to make someone smile. What can be a challenge for us, at times, is doing so with conscious effort. We don’t always remember to do it. So, make a point today, right now, to do something that will make someone else smile. Your life will be happier of the effort!
Tell Someone How Much You Appreciate Them
Call a friend or a family member and tell them how much you appreciate them. Write them a note or send them an email or a text that just lets them know you are thinking about them and that gives them at least one or two things that you appreciate about them, and about their presence in your life. This is one way to accomplish making someone smile, too. You can do two things at once with this one!
It’s funny how we sort of take people for granted in our day-to-day lives. I’ve found that making it a point to tell someone how much I appreciate them, especially out of the blue and not just after they do something special for me, really does make my and their life happier. We forget to let the people we love know why and how much we love them. It can really make someone’s day to hear it. And by extension, it can make your day, too!
Just give this one a try a few times. Maybe just pick a few days on your calendar to remind yourself to do this and then pick someone and do it. Make it a habit. This is definitely one habit that can go a long way to making your life happier!
I’ve Always Said…
We don’t live on a planet with billions of other people because we were meant to do everything alone.
I’ve had some mean people in my life in the past who convinced me that I was too needy and that I needed to be more self-contained. But, later in my life I really learned that it is absolutely the other quality people in my life that make my life worth living.
We aren’t meant to travel this life alone. Bring along the people who make your life happier, and then find ways to let them know that they matter to you. It makes a difference. Trust me.