When the body and mind work in harmony, happiness can be achieved more quickly, and be longer lasting.
Exercise has been repeatedly shown to increase happiness through the associated release of endorphins, so your class participants and clients should be increasing their joy along with their fitness. However, it takes more than nurturing the body to maximise happiness – we must also nurture the mind. When the body and mind work in harmony, happiness can be achieved more quickly, and be longer lasting. Here are five simple ways to boost happiness – share them with your class and spread a little extra happiness this Winter.
1. Know what motivates you
When you try something new, what motivates you to keep going? We can draw motivation from many sources and in a number of ways. And the more sources of motivation you draw on, the better.
Some people are more motivated to participate in activities where they can socialise and have fun with others, whereas some prefer to try new things on their own.
Does receiving positive comments from others help keep you motivated? Are you more motivated if other people are relying on you? If you wanted to increase your physical activity, for example, would you be more committed to a team sport or group fitness experience or would you prefer a solitary walk or training session?
When it comes to change, different approaches keep different people engaged too.
Some people need clear instructions on how to achieve change, whereas others prefer to dive in and work things out as they go. Do you like to gather lots of information and plan your approach before making any changes to your lifestyle? Would developing new skills help you to succeed? If so, enrolling in a course, enlisting the support of a coach, or joining a class may be the key to sustained change.
2. Keep sight of the big picture
Step back and look at the big picture again. I use this tool to regularly check on each of my life domains. I particularly like to do this while on holiday when I have the space and energy to really pay attention to my life. This exercise helps me to reflect, to check if I’m still on track, to celebrate my successes and to think about where I need to focus my energy. It’s a way to assess if I have the balance right and to remember what’s important.
3. Fake it until you make it
So you don’t feel confident, empowered or sexy today? One of the easiest ways to bring on these feelings is to dress as though you already feel it.
While it’s normal and natural to compare ourselves to the media images we are surrounded by every day, remember that these are unrealistic, uncommon and often retouched. These images serve the advertisers well but do not reflect reality or help us feel good about ourselves. Try to suspend all comparisons. Imagine seeing yourself the way someone who loves you deeply would see you. Appreciate your body and notice what you like about it. No matter how you feel, dress up and show up — you may surprise yourself.
4. Play a sport
Sport can be one of the great pleasures in life, both to play and to watch. Investing time and energy in a sport is an excellent release from the rest of life. Being in the zone, or experiencing flow, is also part of the sport experience — the feeling that nothing else matters. The diversity and range of sports available means almost everyone can find something interesting to play or watch.
There are few better feelings than the thrill of competition. Whether it is as part of a team or climbing a mountain, the natural high you get from sport makes you feel great. Even a short early morning run will boost your energy, while the simple pleasure of teeing off as the sun rises with dew on the ground can last the whole day.
5. Celebrate your success
Once you’ve made changes to your life, notice the difference they make. Look at just how far you’ve come. Take time to make sure you are keeping on track with what is important and meaningful to you. And most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. Likethey say, ‘Nothing breeds success like success,’ so why not celebrate it? From a pat on the back to popping a bottle of champagne, life is too short to not celebrate.
Fiona Robards is an author and psychologist. This article is an edited extract from her book What Makes you Happy? available from exislepublishing.com.au and book stores RRP $29.99