health

Feeling flat? Here are 10 little ways to seize the day.

Image via iStock.

We’re constantly being told we only live once. That we should take risks. That we should live in the moment.

Go travelling!

Change your job!

Take a leap of faith!

That’s great — but on a day-to-day basis, when you have work, family and other responsibilities to juggle, getting ‘the most’ out of each and every moment can seem impossible.

But there are some little things that can make a big difference. Here are some more simple, achievable ways you can find happiness in each and every day.

One simple way to make the most of each day? Meditation. Watch Paper Tiger’s introduction to Meditation below. (Post continues after video.)

1. Do something for others.

Doing something for others is one of the most gratifying ways to “seize the day.” Whether it’s buying flowers for someone who has done something nice for you or smiling at a stranger on the street, doing something for someone else will pay off. There is science behind how this works, too.

In his book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, psychologist Shawn Anchor argues that being kind to others can pay off in the long term.

He found people who completed five acts of kindness over the course of a day felt much happier than those who didn’t, and that the feeling lasts for days after the exercise is over.

To try this yourself, pick one day a week and make a point of committing five acts of kindness. Pretty simple, huh?

2. Reflect.

Whether it’s the moment someone made you a cup of tea, or the beautiful weather outside, taking inventory of the little things you’re grateful for can actually boost your happiness and wellbeing.

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One study, by researchers from the University of California, found that people who kept weekly or daily records records of gratitude exhibited heightened emotional well-being compared to those who didn’t.

Take a moment to take inventory of the things you are grateful for. (Image via iStock.)

3. Find your flow.

On a recent episode of the Mamamia Outloud podcast, host Monique Bowley explained how she'd found her "flow" in candle making. If you've ever been in the middle of something, looked up at the clock and realised five hours has passed and it felt like thirty minutes, you've probably experienced this.

Losing yourself in something, whether it be writing, reading, painting, or candle making, can make you really, really happy. Finding your flow is a really simple way to find happiness in each day.

4. Get some fresh air.

Making a habit of getting outdoors each day has so many benefits; just 20 minutes of walking outside can help you forget your worries.

study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, by researchers from The University of Rochester, found being outdoors can give you more energy, make you feel more restored and enhance your vitality. Plus, nature has a way of putting everyday stress into perspective. (Post continues after gallery.)

5. Do something different.

If we spent every day of our lives in the same routine, life would get pretty boring pretty fast. Live a little and do something different. It doesn't have to be overbearing — try simply reading about a topic you normally wouldn't take much interest in and learning something new. It's such a simple way to freshen things up.

6. Treat yourself.

That beautiful skirt you bought for a night out? Wear it to work. Your fanciest perfume? Spritz it on during the week. Use the "good" things that you normally save for "special" occasions because, really, every day is a special occasion. And the compliments you will get will make your day.

Don't save your favourite dress just for "special occasions." (Image via iStock.)

7. Listen to music.

Music can have a big impact on mood, so listen to something that makes you happy. It can make your commute a lot easier, your day a lot happier, and bring your mood up instantly. (Post continues after gallery.)

8. Smile.

Trying to be happy when you're having a crappy day seems impossible, but smiling — even just briefly at a stranger on the street when they catch your eye — can genuinely make you feel happier. Especially when someone smiles back.

In his study published in the journal Psychological Science, Facial Coding expert Paul Ekman found even a fake smile can increase happiness levels.

Ekman determined adopting a “Duchenne smile” (a full smile that involves facial muscles around the eyes) produced a change in brain activity that corresponded with a happier mood. Participants who were instructed to smile recovered from the stressful activities with lower heart rates than participants who held neutral expressions, and those with Duchenne smiles were the most relaxed of all with the most positive affect.

So if a situation has you feeling stressed or flustered, even the most forced smile can genuinely make you happier.

One of the simplest ways to feel happy each day? Smile. (Image via iStock.)

9. Look up.

Even if you're not really into "mindfulness", taking notice of what is around you when you're out and about is a great way to be in the moment. Keep your eyes open for things you wouldn't usually notice — look up at the tops of buildings you pass rather than at the pavement and see if it makes a difference to your day.

10. Pick up the phone.

Even if it's just to say a simple hello, talking to good friends and family every day is such a valuable thing. You'll get to know the ins and outs of their everyday life, rather than just the big events that are happening. It can help you to appreciate the little things.

What are the little things you do to seize the day?

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