Here are some simple suggestions for leading a happier life:

Socially engage with people 

Humans are social creatures. We’re meant to interact with others. One of the issues people complained about during the lockdowns was that they were unable to engage in face-to-face interactions, which led to feelings of isolation. 

A study found that there was one activity that set happy people apart from the rest of us—happy people were more social,” and their “results were so strong that these researchers deemed being around other people as a necessary condition for very high happiness.”

Express gratitude

Major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism all weave elements of gratitude into their practices due to its importance. Gratitude is a mindset in which you appreciate all of the goodness in your life and acknowledge all of the little pleasures.

Practicing gratitude, thanks and appreciation is relatively easy. Start by thinking about all of your blessings and good fortunes—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. It could be a loving family, children, health, wealth, friends or a meaningful job. 

Think of all the things that you are thankful for. Be kind to people. Let a co-worker know how much you appreciate their help. If you’re a manager, tell your staff how proud of them you are and acknowledge their hard work and efforts. Offering appreciation and showing gratitude makes you feel good about yourself too.

Be present in the moment

A recent study found that we spent more than 40 percent of the time mind-wandering—not paying attention to the here and now.   

You need to learn to control your “monkey brain.” This expression loosely means that we humans are still animals and we have these rapid-fire thoughts that constantly race through our minds. When one leaves, another negative thought quickly takes its place. These self-limiting thoughts take over and could easily paralyse you into inertia. 

Try to be Zen. This involves the art of remaining in the present, appreciating the moment and letting go of any baggage. A little meditation may help too. Take a deep breath, hold it and breathe out. Clear your mind of the anger and bad feelings. Say a positive mantra.  

Take time to decompress but also exercise 

You need to allocate times towards destressing, such as getting a good night’s sleep to provide the energy to get up in the morning with enthusiasm. It’s also important to exercise as it’s good for your body and mind. You should take long walks, jog, practice Yoga, hit the gym or do some good old fashion push-ups and sit-ups.

What not to do

There is a societal misconception that if we accumulate enough money, status, clout, a perfect body and physical possessions we’ll be happier. Research has found that even after we’ve done this, there’s still a feeling of dissatisfaction and wanting more, so don’t confuse this for happiness.

Also, it may harm your positive mindset when you spend too much time on social media as it tends to rile you up, make you feel inadequate and missing out on all the fun. It’s better to detox from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook resulting in a more realistic appreciation of things.

Practice happiness

Just as you take a shower or brush your teeth everyday you need to continually work on your happiness. There will be days that you don’t feel like it, but try. Life is hard and difficult. It’s reasonable that even if you’re happy there will be moments when you won’t be at that level. It’s okay, you don’t have to give up, just keep at it. Starting now will help you increase your happiness in 2021.