1. Manage your expectations
Constantly feel disappointed? You may be hoping for too much. “If you consciously lower your expectations, your happiness levels will naturally increase,” explains Marisa Garau, author of From Stress To Strength. “High expectations are rarely met and can set you up for failure.” According to Garau, having no expectations means you’ll experience fewer negative feelings and lower levels of stress.
2. Practise daily gratitude
Make a list of everything you’re thankful for in your life and add to it every day, recommends Domonique Bertolucci, author of Your Best Life. “Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrates how practising gratitude can help to improve your happiness levels by as much as 25 per cent,” she adds.
3. Skip down memory lane
Bike riding. Basketball. Charades. Learning the guitar. What was your childhood love? “Inject some fun back into your life,” suggests Sophie Scott, author of Road Testing Happiness: How to be happier (no matter what). “Remember which activities you liked doing as a kid and consider picking them up as hobbies.”
4. Nurture your loved ones
A study conducted by renowned ‘happiness experts’, Professor Edward Diener, from the University of Illinois, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr Martin Seligman, found that happy people have strong, high-quality relationships. Foster your marriage, friendships and family ties by spending time together as often as possible. If you’re pushed for time, show you care with a handwritten letter or set up a Skype account and lock in regular phone chats for free.
5. Develop your DIY skills
Set yourself a do-it-yourself task. Plant that herb or vegie garden you’ve always wanted, give yourself a facial or repaint the spare bedroom. The feeling of accomplishment and a shrinking to-do list will motivate you to tackle more tasks the next time you have a free weekend.
6. Help those in need
According to review study published in 2013, people who volunteer regularly have lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced wellbeing. Visit govolunteer.com.au or volunteeringnz.org.nz to find out more about the volunteering opportunities near you.
7. Keep a success diary
Recently conquered your fear of heights? Learnt how to sew? Helped out a stranger? Jot it down, says Garau. “Writing down your achievements daily, no matter how small, keeps your spirits high and lowers the risk of over-consuming behaviour and over-stimulated stress hormones,” she adds.
8. Keep the company of happy friends
A recent Harvard Medical School study shows happiness may actually be contagious. Researchers concluded that people’s bliss levels depend on the company they keep, so weed out any negative or toxic acquaintances and recruit positive, supportive friends.
9. Tackle a new recipe
It’s time to drag out those cookbooks gathering dust at the back of your kitchen cupboard. Challenge yourself to cook a new healthy recipe once a week for a month. At the end of this period, choose your favourite dish and invite some friends over to share it. File your favourite recipes as you go, so you can find them easily.