If you’ve clicked on to this blog post, you’re probably someone who wants to elevate your life, who wants to be happy, and that’s great.
What, exactly, makes people happy?
There are a lot of different things, but one of the most consistent findings in the literature is that happy people are doing fulfilling things.
So, it’s not about happiness, necessarily; it’s about fulfillment.
In order to feel fulfilled, most of us need to feel connected with ourselves and with others, and feel as if we are contributing to this world in a positive manner.
Those are my thoughts and those also the findings of some of the research around happiness.
You’ll see that as you increase your sense of fulfillment, you’ll increase your happiness and that will help you sleep better at night, which, in and of itself, will make you feel happier.
So check out these habits of happy people and give them a try. I think you’ll like the results.
The 10 Most Powerful Habits of Happy People
1. Create an Attitude of Gratitude
If you have a gratitude journal – The Five-Minute Journal is an example – or if you just have a regular journal, write down everything you’re grateful for: your bed, the roof over your head, your significant other, your family, whatever it is.
Write down as much as you can because what that does is forces you to focus on the good and not the bad, and that’s a great thing for feeling better.
2. Visualize What Makes You Happy
Visualize the ideal life. Visualize what you want to be doing in life. Visualize your goals, your bucket list, all the things that make you happy.
Sit down, close your eyes, put on some nice music if you want, and visualize your next day, visualize yourself a year from now, five years, ten years from now, doing the things you love to do, whatever it is.
Just visualize your ideal life.
This is probably one of the most powerful things you can ever do because everything in your physical reality started as an idea in your mind.
3. Take a Moment to Meditate
If you’ve had a stressful day and you’re wound up, take some time to breathe, close your eyes, and meditate.
It’s going to reduce your fight-or-flight sympathetic response, and that’s going to reduce cortisol.
[Related: 3 Startling Ways Stress Causes Weight Gain]
Cortisol, we know, inhibits sleep because it impairs melatonin, and melatonin is important because it tells your brain it’s sleepy time.
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. Focus on your breath, belly breathing, calm yourself, calm your breath.
You can do it seated, you can do it lying down, whatever is going to work for you.
I know you’ve heard about meditation before, but that’s because it’s one of the top habits of happy people.
4. Read Something You Enjoy
Just as I suggest that you read in the morning, you also want to read at night.
It can be whatever you want – inspiration, fiction, anything – but find some time to read and grow and put your mind in a state of learning.
When you go to sleep, your brain is going to consolidate what you just read, which is pretty nice.
5. Count Your Successes
My fifth suggestion is a really powerful one, which kind of ties in with gratitude. It’s to review your successes from that day.
Very often, we focus on what my mentor Dan Sullivan calls The Gap, where we want to be at a certain point in our life, but instead we’re not quite there yet. What we do is focus on the gap between where we are and where we’d like to be.
Instead, we should look at and acknowledge everything we did during the day to advance us toward our goal.
Get into the habit of celebrating your wins. Small or big, it doesn’t matter; just get into the habit of focusing on what you did well, what you accomplished, whatever.
When you focus on those things, success builds on success, and your momentum drives you forward, you build up confidence, and you feel really good about the day you just lived.
6. Turn off the Lights
An hour before bedtime, turn off or dim the lights, get some blue-blocker glasses on, turn off the TV, turn off the cell phones, turn off the computers.
Why? Because all of those external lights are going to increase cortisol, decrease melatonin, and that’s not going to help you sleep very well.
And if you’re not sleeping very well, you’re going to be feeling pretty crappy.
This is a beautiful time to do your meditation and your visualization. If you’re reading, do it by candlelight or use a red bulb, which doesn’t emit blue light, for your reading lamp.
7. Take a Moment to Focus on Others
This might be something you do a little bit earlier in the day, when you are around someone in your life that you want to acknowledge.
Tell them you’re proud of them and that they did something amazing today. Tell them something that builds their confidence.
Or you can do something that I love to do on a regular basis, which is to write thank-you cards to people in my life.
I’ll write a bunch of thank-you cards to people who have been on my podcast or people I hold in high esteem or friends and other people who have somehow made an impact on me.
It makes me feel good to acknowledge them. And when you’ve received a handwritten thank-you card from somebody and it’s unexpected, that makes you feel pretty good as well.
8. Make Time to Connect with Loved Ones
Make an effort to connect with the people who are important in your life and spend time with them.
Don’t rely on your cell phone when you’re right beside each other, having dinner.
Connect with the people you love the most, whether that’s your parents, your family, your spouse, whomever it is. Spend a couple minutes at the minimum to connect with them, engage in conversation and show them you actually care about them.
That’ll make you feel good and them feel acknowledged, which is really important for the health of your relationship and your heart. It’s a key habit of happy people, building that sense of connection.
9. Write Down Your Worries
If you have any worries or anxieties, write them down.
If you have trouble sleeping at night because of anxiety issues – if you have a lot of things going on in your head – get out a piece of paper, write it all down, and then crumple it up and throw it away.
The beautiful thing is that just by getting it down on paper, it’s out of your head.
Or if you have nonstop ideas, like I do, then write down those ideas in a journal – just dump whatever is going on in our head – so your brain knows that the ideas are safe and will be there for you later if you need them. That way you don’t have to keep thinking about them.
That leaves you free to chill and sleep a lot better.
10. Take Some Time to Express Self-Love
The last one is really important. This is something I learned from Louise Hay, who is the founder of Hay House. She talks about looking at yourself in the mirror and looking at your eyes and telling yourself, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
It feels kind of ridiculous, but you get to a point where you actually start to get the message and it’s pretty profound.
If you can do this on a daily basis at night or in the morning or whenever works for your schedule: wow, what this will do for your self-esteem, confidence, and radiance is unbelievable.
11. Bonus: Get Busy with Your Partner
Now that you’re tucked into bed and if you’re with your significant other, how about a little hanky-panky?
We know that sex is amazing. We know that it boosts testosterone naturally. We know that it’s incredible for feeling good, obviously assuming it’s consensual and protected. It’s part of our human nature, so if you have the ability to do that with somebody you love, then why not?
It’s actually going to help you sleep a lot better as well; that’s one thing I’ve learned from experience.
You know, I’ve had sex at least three times because I’ve got three kids, so we know that for certain. And on that note, I’d better stop.
Just the act of making time to incorporate these habits into your life can start you on the road to feeling happier and more fulfilled.
And that change in you will likely start helping the people around you – children, significant others, friends, coworkers and family members – feel a bit happier, too.
Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.