At red lights, in waiting rooms, before bed: It’s a slippery slope into addictive social media checking—and, in turn, a bad mood.
“Most of the time, I don’t feel happier when I’m aimlessly scrolling,” says Lisa O’Brien, owner and CEO of LifeYum, a wellness and life-coaching company. “Conversely, when I’m in a happy state, I’m noticeably not checking Facebook. I’m living in the moment, focused on what I am doing and who I’m with.”
Research backs this up: A recent study by the Happiness Research Institute showed that Facebook users are 39 percent more likely to feel less happy than non-users.
Consider taking social media apps off your phone—you’ll be less tempted to mindlessly check in and more present in your everyday life.
HAPPY PEOPLE DON’T FORGET TO TAKE A BREAK
If your schedule is jam packed, you feel a sense of rush before your day even starts, O’Brien says.
Happy people know how to say no to non-essential commitments. They know they can do their best work when their schedules are manageable, she explains.
Can’t avoid a packed day at work? Grab a few minutes between meetings and focus on your breath—it’s your best tool for relaxation during a hectic day, she says.
Focus on “the coolness as you inhale and the warmth as you exhale. Count your inhales and exhales, allowing the exhales to be twice as long as your inhales to slow your heart rate,” she says.
For the most part, you’re in control of whom you spend your time with.
“If the air gets thick with negativity or a pity party has gone too far, excuse yourself from the conversation,” advises June Archer, author of Yes! Every Day Can Be a Good Day.
Complaining feels good at the time, but it can have the negative long-term effect of putting a strain on your relationships and your happiness.
“When things don’t work out as planned or they get an unexpected response, happy people are curious and expect there to be a reasonable explanation,” says Angela Sarafin, a marriage and family therapist based in Washington D.C.
“They ask, ‘What just happened?’ as opposed to getting angry and thinking, ‘How could they do that to me?’” she says.
Even when someone is hurtful, Sarafin says that happy people tend to be concerned about what might be happening in that other person’s life that would lead them to act that way instead of taking it personally.
A happy person’s reaction to someone winning the lottery?
“Wonderful, great for her!” says Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D., a psychologist based in Salt Lake City. “Unhappy people live in a small world where rewards are scarce. Happy people live in a big world with plenty to go around,” he explains.
The next time your friend gets a promotion, congratulate him and mean it.
In short: There’s plenty of good to go around—being happy for others doesn’t mean you won’t get your turn. It just means that you’ll be happier in the time being.