Our homes are an extension of who we are: what we do within the walls of our abodes shapes our mood, affects our productivity, and influences our outlook on life. Scientific studies have shown that we can have an impact on our happiness by adjusting the tiny little habits and routines that constitute our daily lives – we are, in fact, in control of our outlook on life.
It’s amazing how a few tweaks to our daily habits can become a catalyst for meaningful, positive change. Here are a few simple things you can do every day to feel happier at home
- Make your bed. This three minute task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness.
- Bring every room back to “ready”. It’s a known fact: clutter causes stress; order creates a haven from it. This mood-boosting routine is simple: Take about three minutes to bring each room back to “ready” before you depart it (unless you have a toddler, or a partner who likes to simulate earthquakes, three minutes should be sufficient)
- Display sentimental items around your home. One reason that experiences (and memories of those experiences) make us happier than material things is due to the entire cycle of enjoyment that experiences provide: planning the experience, looking forward to the experience, enjoying the experience, and then remembering the experience. Make your home a gallery of positive memories.
- Start a conversation “gratitude”: Before bed, simply ask your partner (or if you have kids) “what was the best part of today?” Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude. Some people like to also have a one-line-a-day gratitude journal.
- Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. As the Dali Lama says “every day, think as you walk up: today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” Wow! What a wise man. Setting a daily intent (other than the morning coffee) makes a huge difference – but word of warning, it shouldn’t be another on the “to do list” as it should be something productive such “today I am going to thoroughly enjoy …(whatever the event is)
- Spend money on things that cultivate experiences at home (I like this one!) Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night – something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain. Plan a summer barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax – don’t fo9rget to print out the pictures to remember the good times (item 3).
- Get those dishes done (or put in the dishwasher). For dishes that don’t go in the dishwasher, fill the sink with warm soapy water – then mentally feel the soothing warmth on your hands (perhaps even some unusually loud volume music) – pretend you love it!
- Call at least one friend or family member a day (definitely during the week). Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just for a brief chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that even when we don’t feel like it, even if we are naturally introverted, socialising with our loved ones makes us feel better.
- Do small favours. And expect nothing in return! It’s easier if you are at home ie. mow the lawn for your husband as a surprise; males can make the bed for their partner (no bonus points awarded); take out the rubbish before being asked! For work it can be doing the dishes at the end of the working day (the cups, plates etc used at lunch time); picking up your paper recycle box under the desk and dropping it into the destructor bin; picking up your own circular rubbish bin and taking it to the main bin for the usual end-of-day clean up – even to perhaps surprising your office co-workers by buying a bunch of flowers on the way into the office, popping them into a vase and displaying them in reception or on a desk where everyone can enjoy them. The ability to cultivate strong, healthy relationships is one of the biggest contributors to health and happiness – but no keeping score!
- Spend a few minutes during your day connecting. Just stepping back and thinking (or gazing out the window) to put a perspective on everything. Spend a few minutes contemplating by a quick walk and noticing the sunshine, the warmth, other people smiling or talking with other people, interesting things in a shop window, the friendly dogs around – my favourite at 5:30pm each day, the birds singing loudly in the trees in Bay Street Port Melbourne as they seem to call to their mates to join them at the end of the working day!