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8 Ways to Build Happiness, Even While Stuck at Home

After months of being cooped up at home due to the coronavirus, many people are understandably in a “funk.”

Though restrictions have begun to loosen, many things that we previously turned to for happiness—concerts, parties, sports, vacations, and so on—are still off-limits.

With limited options for fun, it can feel like happiness is impossible, but here’s a secret: happiness doesn’t come from external forces; it comes from inside of you.

You must create your own happiness, and fortunately, you can do that even while stuck at home. Here are eight ways to do just that.  

#1: Take Care of Your Body

First and foremost, you must take care of your body. That means exercising regularly, sleeping well, and eating right. 

If any one of these pieces is missing, it can have big consequences on your mood. If you’re not exercising, you won’t feel your best. If you’re tired, you’ll be more irritable. And if you’re hungry or eating poorly, you’ll feel grumpy and sluggish. 

Happiness comes from feeling well and being physically ready to tackle each day, so prioritize your health. If your body isn’t happy, your mind won’t be either.

#2: Read or Learn Something New 

Variety is indeed the spice of life. Your mind craves new knowledge, ideas, and experiences. You may not be able to do all the things you want to right now, but with the internet, you have a world of new knowledge at your fingertips, waiting to be explored.

The more you read and learn new things, the less mundane your day is and the happier you will feel. Every time you read or learn something new, you grow, and growth is a basic necessity for happiness. 

#3: Be Kind and Help Others 

We’re built to ensure not just our own survival, but that of the community around us. So when you need a shot of happiness, be kind and help others.

Contributing to someone else’s happiness or success is an extremely rewarding feeling. There are many ways you can do this, large and small. You could send a card to a friend who’s feeling down, offer to mentor someone in your field, compliment a stranger, or any number of things.

The more we help others, the more satisfaction we feel. So commit random acts of kindness and help others whenever possible. 

#4: Focus on Your Relationships

Our close relationships and a strong sense of connectedness with others is one of the deepest of all human needs and is critical to happiness. 

Make connecting with others a top priority. In particular, focus on your relationships with positive people. Being around people with positive energy, even virtually, makes you feel more positive and happier. In psychology, this is called social contagion, which is the affect or behavior one person has on another.

The people we surround ourselves with have a great impact on our happiness, so focus on cultivating strong, happy relationships.

#5: Feel Productive 

One of the biggest killers of happiness is idleness. To be happy, we have to feel as if we’re moving forward. A great way to create happiness then is to be productive.

The more you do, the better you’ll feel. Cross off important tasks on your to-do list (don’t just be busy being busy). Tackle the next micro goal on your way to a macro goal and advance on a key project. 

The feeling of accomplishment is palpable and tremendously rewarding, and it can stick with you all day.

#6: Practice Gratitude 

A positive outlook has the power to create happiness, and a great way to become more positive is to practice gratitude.

Scientific research has consistently proven the immense power of gratitude every day. When we take time to appreciate the things we have, we feel happier. It’s as simple as that.

So develop an appreciation for the people, places, and things that surround you. Nothing is too small. You could even be grateful for the fact that you are alive and breathing.

Life can feel bleak, especially right now, so work to find and appreciate the good around you.

#7: Use Your Five Senses

Our emotions are closely linked to our senses, so by doing things that are pleasing to our senses, we can increase our happiness.

For instance, eat the foods you love (taste), listen to music that makes you feel upbeat (hearing), take in the wonderful smells of nature (scent), touch something that feels good (touch), and take in the beautiful sights around you (sight). 

You might not hit every sense each day, but work to hit each one on a regular basis. The more positive experiences your five senses enjoy, the happier you’ll feel.

#8: Remember Your Past

Reminiscing on your past can lift you up and build happiness in the present.

If there’s something you wish you could be doing now that you previously did in the past, take the time to remember and appreciate those memories. Look through old photos and call up loved ones to reminisce over shared memories.

You can also look to your past for times you previously overcame and grew from challenges. This can bring satisfaction and convince you that the same thing will happen with your current challenges.

When your present isn’t ideal, find happiness by remembering the past. 

This article was adapted from the book, The Standout Experience, written by John Walsh.

John Walsh is the founder and leader of the Standout Movement, whose mission is to inspire and help millions of young adults stand out in their own lives and careers.