How to feel content with yourself
10 Ways to Be Happy with Yourself, Backed by Science
I’m fascinated by the link between the way we live our daily lives and the health and happiness we enjoy.
There are choices that you make every day, some of which seem completely unrelated to your health and happiness, that dramatically impact the way you feel mentally and physically.
With that said, here are 10 common mistakes that can prevent you from being happy and healthy, and the science to back them up.
When the Buffer team explored the science of happiness before on this blog, the interest was overwhelming. So I hope this can provide equally valuable insights:
1. Avoiding deep and meaningful connections (like marriage, close friendships, and staying in touch with family)
Ultimately, the human experience is about connecting with other people. Connection is what provides value and meaning to our lives. We’re wired for it and research proves just that.
For example, people with strong social ties were found to be healthier and have a lower risk of death. Additionally, it was found that as age increases, the people with stronger social ties tend to live longer. And it seems that friendships can even help you fight cancer.
The benefits of deep relationships extend to marriage as well. Being in a long-term relationship decreases the risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse. And one study of almost 6,000 peoplefound that marriage led to increased longevity while never marrying was the strongest predictor of premature death.
Finally, multiple studies (here, here, and here) show that strong family ties are one of the primary reasons the people of Okinawa, Japan have incredible longevity despite being one of the poorest prefectures in the country.
What do all of these different studies tell us?
Connection and belonging are essential for a healthy and happy life. Whether it’s friendship, marriage, or family — humans need close connections to be healthy.
For more about the connection between loneliness and health, I suggest reading the New York Times best-seller Mind Over Medicine, which was written by my friend Dr. Lissa Rankin.
You might want to stand up for this. The internet has gone crazy over an infographic that describes the harmful effects of sitting all day.
The short version is that “recreational sitting” like sitting in front of a TV screen increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, regardless of your physical activity. Obviously, sitting at a desk for work isn’t too good either.
This troubling data doesn’t come from small sample sizes either. These trends held true in one study with 4,500 people, another with 8,800 people, and a final one with over 240,000 participants. If you’re looking for more details on the health risks of sitting, this New York Times article covers some of the basics.
Instead, try getting up and move around, it can be as simple as a quick walk around the desk:
3. Never stopping to just breathe.
A few years ago, I was speaking with a yoga instructor who told me, “I think people love my class because it’s the only time in their entire day when they just sit and breathe. ”
That provides some interesting food for thought. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, do you ever take 15 minutes to just sit and breathe? I rarely do. And that’s a shame because the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are huge. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation improves your quality of life and boost your immune system. Meditation has been shown to decrease anger and improve sleep, even among prison inmates.
It can significantly reduce anxiety to just sit and breathe for as little as 10 minutes every day:
There is an interesting and growing body of medical research that has discovered the positive health effects of religion and spirituality. The science doesn’t necessarily say that there is anything inherently healthy about religion, but it’s all the by-products that come from practicing religion that can make a big difference.
For example, people with strong faith often release control of their struggles and worries to a higher power, which can help to relieve anxiety and stress. Religious groups also offer a strong source of community and friendships, which is critical for health and happiness. In many cases, the strength of friendships formed with fellow believers can last for decades, and those strong personal ties are crucial for long-term health.
If you don’t consider yourself to be a religious person, then the lesson to takeaway from this body of research is that we all need a sense of belonging and community in our lives. It’s important to share your beliefs (whatever they happen to be about) with a community of people. People who have a community like that to lean on find themselves happier and healthier than those who lack that type of support. Community provides meaning in many people’s lives which according to Victor Frankl is the most important element for happiness.
As a starting point, you can read studies on the religion-health connection here, here, and here.
5. Ignoring your creative abilities.
Expressing yourself creatively reduces the risk of disease and illness while simultaneously strengthening your health and wellness. For example, this study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that art helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive emotions, and reduce the likelihood of depression, along with many other benefits.
Another study, which was published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, discovered that creative writing improved the immune system response of HIV patients. For more ideas on why creating art is healthy, read this: The Health Benefits of Creativity.
Every single one of us is incredibly creative, even if some people might have told us otherwise. It’s especially important to ignore the old “Left Brain, Right Brain” myth, stating that if you don’t use one side enough, you just aren’t creative:
6. Spending all day indoors.
Exploring the world around you — whether that means traveling to faraway lands or hiking through the woods in your area — provides a wide range of mental and physical benefits. For starters, the benefits of sunlight (and the negative effects of artificial light) are well-documented in research. We know that not being outdoors enough significantly decreases our Vitamin D intake. We can easily avoid this, here is why:
Additionally, researchers have begun to discover that wilderness excursions — known as “adventure therapy” — can promote weight loss, improve the self-esteem of people with mental illness, and evenreduce the rearrest rates of sex offenders.
The central theme that runs through all of these studies is that exploring the outdoors and spending time in nature can increase the confidence you have in yourself and improve your ability to interact with others. On top of this, we also know that happiness is directly link to exercise.
7. Spending your time consuming instead of contributing and producing.
When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
Contribution is an essential part of living a life that is happy, healthy, and meaningful. Too often we spend our lives consuming the world around us instead of creating it. We overdose on low quality information. We live sedentary lives and passively eat, watch, and soak up information rather than creating, contributing, and building our own things.
As I wrote in this article…
“You can’t control the amount of time you spend on this planet, but you can control what you contribute while you’re here. These contributions don’t have to be major endeavors. Cook a meal instead of buying one. Play a game instead of watching one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. You don’t have to create big contributions, you just need to live out small ones each day.”
8. Working too much and in a job that you don’t love
As you might expect, it’s dangerous to work too much. In Japan, the overtime and workplace stress has become so bad that they actually have a label for the people who die because of it: karoshi, which literally means “death by overwork.”
Basically any way in which your job makes you feel stressed is bad for your health — unpredictable commutes, tension and disagreement with your boss or coworkers, feeling undervalued or unappreciated. Even working overtime increases the risk for coronary heart disease, independent of outside factors.
What can you do about it? No one strategy will work for everyone, of course, but the principles in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor offer a great place to start.
Another crucial element to observe here is to fall in love with our body’s natural rhythm of working: The Ultradian Rhythm. Taking consistent breaks and not working for longer than ~90 minutes, can have a huge benefit for our health and feeling of happiness:
9. Eating alone
Brian Wansink, a Cornell professor and author of Mindless Eating, has written that when people eat alone they are more likely to have a large binge feeding. Additionally, diets suffer when people eat alone. Lonely diners tend to eat fewer vegetables and less healthy meals. It seems that we make less of an effort to eat well when we are by ourselves than when someone else is involved.
Given that an estimated one out of three people eat lunch at their desk, it’s easy to see how these little choices add up to big health problems over the long-term.
10. Believing that you are unworthy of health, happiness, and love
Brene Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston and she has spent 10 years studying vulnerability. In recent years, her work has exploded with popularity as she delivered one of the most popular TED Talks of all-time and has written multiple best-selling books including Daring Greatlyand The Gifts of Imperfection.
As Brown studied fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability, she discovered one key insight…
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who struggle for it. And that was that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.
That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. The one thing that keeps us out of connection is the fear that we’re not worthy of connection.
If you allow your fear or vulnerability or shame to prevent you from showcasing your true self, then you will be preventing yourself from connecting fully with others. If you want to be able to move past fear, judgement, and uncertainty and into a healthier and happier life, then you have to give yourself permission first. You have to decide that you’re worthy.
For much deeper and more useful discussion of vulnerability, I suggest reading Brown’s books:Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.
What Do You Need to Be Healthy?
Living a healthy life is about much more than just diet and exercise. Don’t forget about the 10 areas above because they play a significant role in your health and happiness.
As my friend Lissa Rankin often says, “What does your body need to heal?”
In many cases it’s not a better diet or a new workout program, it’s one of these areas that might be impacting your health and happiness without you even realizing it.
About the Author: James Clear is an entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer in 18 countries. He writes at JamesClear.com, where he uses proven research and real-world experiences to share practical ideas for living a healthy life. You can get new strategies for sticking to healthy habits, losing weight, gaining muscle, and more by joining his free newsletter.
This post originally appeared on JamesClear.com
If you liked this post, you might also like “What happens to our brains when we exercise and how it makes us happier” and “Happiness Is Not Enough: Why A Life Without Meaning Will Make You Sick”
Photocredit: Spencer Finley, Carrington University
10 Ways to Be Happy With Yourself Right Now
LUCAS OTTONE / Stocksy
Let’s be honest—figuring out how to be happy with yourself in the moment can be a bit of a struggle. Many of us find ourselves thinking, I’ll be happy when… and then focus on achieving those goals. Although there is nothing wrong with trying to make your future self happier, we should be cultivating our current happiness, too. This slight obsession we have with figuring out our own happiness may be due to the fact that we’re bad at it—or at least that’s what our experts say.
“We aren’t always particularly good at it, and we seem to be getting worse,” says Sherry Benton, Ph.D., who has more than 25 years of experience in counseling psychology. According to the World Happiness Report, the United States ranked 19th in happiness from 2016 to 2018.
Meet the Expert
- Sherry Benton, Ph.D., is the founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect, a therapy assistance program.
- Alex Dimitriu, M.D., is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and is the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.
What’s interesting is that some of the things that we think may make us happy actually won’t do so in the long term. Benton says that, based on scientific research conducted over the past 40 years, most of us need a basic level of financial security and stability to be happy. But beyond that, she says, making more money doesn’t necessarily add to our happiness.
Things like raises, promotions, new houses, or other new possessions feel good for only a few fleeting moments, but they have no long-term benefits.
“Things like raises, promotions, new houses, or other new possessions feel good for only a few fleeting moments, but they have no long-term benefits,” she says. So what tends to push the needle when it comes to happiness? Family, friendship, social connections, new experiences, gratitude, and compassion may be a few factors. “Real happiness is not a destination—it’s a journey,” Benton tells us. “We experience happiness in the here and now from the choices we make in our daily lives.”
With that in mind, we asked Benton and Dimitriu to help explain what we can do now to be happy.
01 of 10
Embrace Experiences Over Things
Westend61 / Getty Images
Pursue new experiences, rather than new things. Book vacations, take fun strolls in the park, purchase tickets to concerts or unique performances. You can opt for some solo time exploring the city or invite your friends to go on an unexpected adventure. “Go someplace new or do something new,” Benton suggests.
02 of 10
Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images
Not only is meditating helpful in reducing anxiety and depression, but it will also help keep you grounded. And did we mention its health benefits? “Mindfulness meditation for just 10 minutes per day can lower blood pressure and pain levels,” says Benton. YouTube has a number of free meditations to follow, or you can download an app like Calm or even Peloton for a selection of meditations.
03 of 10
Make a Daily Gratitude List
Westend61 / Getty Images
We become more satisfied when we focus on what is good and right in our lives. Dimitriu says, “Sincere gratitude helps shift our focus to what is right, not what is wrong or missing.” It’s as simple as getting a journal and writing down five things each day that you’re grateful for. Maybe you had a really delicious coffee, or a great phone call with a loved one, or a low-key day full of your favorite TV shows. “Take time to turn off your steady stream of negative and worrisome thoughts each day,” says Benton.
04 of 10
Cultivate an Active Social Support Network
Brook Pifer / Getty Images
“We all do better when we have a community we feel connected to,” Benton explains. No matter what, carve out time to spend with family and friends because these will be the people who will always have your back. You can plan a friends’ road trip to a new city or take your parents out for lunch on the weekend.
05 of 10
Hill Street Studios / Getty Images
When we are compassionate and caring toward others, we end up becoming happier in our own lives. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, mentor at-risk youth, or simply help out a family member or friend. “There is a belief that a lot of anxiety and possibly depression can come from being too inwardly focused or preoccupied with one’s self and one’s needs. In these cases, any distraction, especially one that shifts the focus to the world outside or other people, can help,” says Dimitriu. “Volunteering and helping other people is one of the most effective ways to focus outside of one’s self. Additionally, the act of helping others can also make us feel better about ourselves—and there may be specific [benefits] to doing it for free or without anything expected in return.”
06 of 10
Avoid Being Judgmental
Westend61 / Getty Images
In case you didn’t know, happiness is connected with the release of dopamine, a substance that carries signals between your brain cells. “When we become judgmental and critical, the dopamine system shuts down,” Benton says. “Then we become unhappier and dissatisfied with our lives.”
07 of 10
Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images
Yes, a trip to the gym is always good, but working out in fresh air is even better. Benton says research indicates that simply being outdoors makes us happier. Try walking, biking, or really anything that will just get you moving. “Exercise helps improve mood, anxiety, and also sleep quality. More importantly, exercise keeps our body and mind healthy. Specific to the brain, exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, mood, and may even help regrow new neurons by increasing levels of BDNF—brain-derived neurotrophic factor—which is like MiracleGro for our neurons,” explains Dimitriu.
08 of 10
Engage in Activities That You Find Completely Absorbing
LUCAS OTTONE / Stocksy
Ideally, you are trying to get yourself into a mental state known as “flow,” according to Benton. Such activities include creating something, participating in sports, cooking, writing, playing music, knitting, fishing, sailing, and so much more. Flow is when we forget about ourselves and our own egos and are completely focused on the experience, according to Benton.
09 of 10
Enjoy Your Work
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images
It can be difficult, but you should prioritize finding a career that you genuinely enjoy (for the most part). Benton says to try to find a work situation that uses your strengths, where you can experience some success, and where you enjoy your co-workers’ company. Dimitriu adds, “A career, much like a car or a bed, is important because we spend so much of our lives in it. All work will always be demanding, but it helps to be doing something that is personally meaningful and creates a sense of purpose or a ‘need’ to be at work.”
10 of 10
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Getty Images / Fizkes
No excuses—you should try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. “It makes a big difference in your energy, enthusiasm, and general happiness throughout the day,” Benton explains. If you have trouble falling asleep (we’ve been there), think about implementing a bedtime routine that will help you unwind at night. A few hours before bed, you can read a book instead of scrolling through your phone, take a warm bath with soothing Epsom salts, drink a warm cup of tea, or write in your daily gratitude journal.
20 Happiness Tips Therapists Want You to Know
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Helliwell, J., Layard, R., Sachs, J. World Happiness Report 2019. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 2019.
Parmentier FBR, García-toro M, García-campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P, Gili M. Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front Psychol. 2019;10:506. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506
Dfarhud D, Malmir M, Khanahmadi M. Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2014;43(11):1468-77.
Pearson DG, Craig T. The Great Outdoors? Exploring the Mental Health Benefits of Natural Environments. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1178. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Oversleeping: Bad for Your Health?
How to be satisfied with yourself - ReadRate
There is no universal instruction that will help you be satisfied with yourself. It's more of a state of mind than a skill that can be developed. But if the soul asks for change and inner peace - look, these tips from self-help literature will inspire you to take the necessary actions.
Everyone has their own reasons for self-flagellation, which reduces self-esteem day by day. There are many sources of dissatisfaction. Working mothers suffer from the thought that they devote little time to the family. Athletes blame themselves for defeats in competitions. Women, dissatisfied with the number on the scales, reproach themselves for eating too many cookies. Continue? nine0003
How can one be satisfied with one's own life, if all the time it seems that something (if not everything) is going wrong in it? We need to work on self-esteem and attitude towards the world around us. In Mindfulness, Denny Penman writes that our thoughts program how we evaluate everything in life, including ourselves:
“Thoughts are our internal comments about our own actions and about the world around us. By realizing this simple fact, you will be released from the pressure of the distorted reality that we all create for ourselves through endless anxieties, reasoning and reflection, and you will again see a clear path forward. nine0011
Sometimes we come up with goals that are too tough for us. And then, not reaching them, we suffer. How to avoid it? Lower your own expectations a little. Don't be too hard on yourself. The world will not collapse if you give your all and fail. But the bitterness of defeat and overwork will greatly affect how you evaluate your life. Here is what the psychotherapist Ilse Sand advises in "Close to the Heart":
"High standards must be strictly controlled, otherwise there is a high probability of mental overstrain. You need to focus on your own life principles and start the process of pacification. The rest is a matter of practice. Having decided to sacrifice your principles, you will most likely expect the most adverse consequences of such an act, but in vain - nothing terrible will happen. Once you see this over and over again, you will gradually begin to abandon unreasonably high standards, stop suffering from perfectionism and live more peacefully. nine0011
Our attitude to our own decisions and actions is influenced by the expectations of others. An outside opinion is always helpful. The main thing is not to overdo it and not put other people's words in the first place. This is a direct path to self-doubt and dissatisfaction. Therefore, it is worth listening to the words of the psychologist Edith Eva Eger. In The Gift, she writes:
"We must not let other people's evaluations become critical for us - otherwise we will not be able to live without feeling ashamed of ourselves. " nine0011
Only the power of love can resist criticism and self-criticism. Here are some tips from The Gift that will help you fall in love with the most important person in your life on whom your happiness depends, that is, yourself:
“Love for yourself is the only foundation on which our whole, healthy and happy personality. So fall in love with yourself! It's not narcissism."
“Start by getting up in the morning, going to a mirror and looking into your eyes. Then tell your reflection, "I love you." Say, "I will never leave you." Hug yourself. Kiss yourself. Try it! Do this as often as possible throughout the day. Do it day by day." nine0011
Do you think that only super-professionals, actors and public businessmen can be completely satisfied with themselves? In the book Restoring a Taste for Life, Natalya Kerre shares an important secret: in fact, you are not alone in these thoughts. Everyone has problems with self-esteem and doubts: our parents, bosses and those whom we consider successful people.
“Before a period of clarity and self-confidence begins in life, there will definitely be a “zone of turbulence” - discomfort, restlessness, painful doubts about the correctness of one's own choice. Everyone is tormented by change, even those who seem unshakably self-confident to you. nine0011
All the above tips do not directly answer the question of how to be satisfied with yourself. But each of them can bring you closer to understanding and accepting yourself and the world around you. Perhaps, following these simple recommendations, you will suddenly realize for yourself that in fact everything is the same with you and your life.
Also read Inspirational Quotes to Start a New Life from Monday.
7 easy ways to be happy with yourself every day
The desire for happiness is inherent in each of us. You want to be happy in one way or another. But not everyone knows how to achieve such a state.
Finding true answers is difficult. Our society has become accustomed to associating happiness with materialistic possessions.
The line of thought is that if we have more things, we will be more satisfied. As a result, many people spend their whole lives in the pursuit of happiness, only to be defeated when they finally realize that two cars instead of one only bring short-term satisfaction. nine0003
There is no magic formula that can make you happy. Happiness is an inside job, it's a choice you have to make on your own.
1. Don't take life too seriously
Life is so short. If you spend it worrying and worrying about the little things, you will miss out on a lot of great moments.
As children, we are encouraged to be curious and enjoy life. However, many people lose this desire as soon as they become adults. If you recognized yourself in the previous sentence, then try to answer one simple question: what happens if you slow down and free yourself some time to enjoy life? nine0003
Think about what you will remember when you are old? It is unlikely that you will be pleased to think about how much you worked and what your salary was. All this depreciates, becomes absolutely unimportant.
2. Find an environment that will support you
By nature, we are social beings. Communicating with each other helps us gain the support we need, especially when we face difficult situations.
Communication is based on mutual benefit - if you call friendship with a person disinterested, you are wrong. You help your friend, support him morally, share your feelings with him and spend your free time in his company. Of course, you expect the same from him. Is not it? nine0003
If in a relationship one person does all of the above and does not receive any return, this is unprofitable. It is better to end such relationships as soon as possible.
Each of us needs an environment that will support us in everything and help us cope with the difficulties of life. For some, this environment is family, someone gets more support from a loved one or friends. But whoever these people are, they need to be protected.
You become who you surround yourself with. This applies to the closest people. If you want to be happy and successful, make sure that your environment is able to help you with this. Strive to gather people around you who will help you become the best version of yourself. nine0003
6 tips for those who want to create a positive environment for themselves
3. Don't limit your growth
Happy people have dreams. And the more unrealizable they seem, the harder a person must work. If you don’t know how to dream, but make a choice in favor of constantly lowering your capabilities, i.e., setting yourself a certain threshold above which you “definitely won’t jump”, then it’s safe to say that you yourself are poisoning your life. nine0003
The trick is that our thoughts are material. No, this does not mean that when you think about a million dollars, you will soon find a bag of money somewhere under the bed. This means that the lack of faith in your abilities will ultimately cut off your path to the life of your dreams.
Remember: nothing is impossible. Of course, you have to sweat a lot to achieve what you want, but if the result is worth it, why not?
4. Take control of your mind
How you start your day matters a lot. If you reluctantly roll out of bed, put the coffee pot on the table and rush to work - how do you think your day will turn out? nine0003
Sometimes our thoughts and emotions take over. If you do not master your mind, your mind will master you.
Every morning try to do your best to put yourself in order. Think about your problems without judgment, practice mindfulness, try to live mindfully. Instead of rushing from one thing to another, take the time to pause and give your body and mind a rest.
5. Be grateful, not optimistic
Gratitude is a mindset that focuses on getting the best out of any situation, no matter how bad. Optimism, in turn, is the ability to look at everything from a positive point of view. It is not surprising if you think that these two concepts are synonymous.
If gratitude can make your life much easier by making you perceive failure as an experience, then optimism, on the contrary, can complicate the situation. As an optimist, you can easily lose control of your circumstances by mistakenly believing that the outcome will be positive. nine0003
6. Be your best friend
Yourself. Whatever one may say, for you the most important person in the whole world is yourself. And this is not selfishness - this is the truth of life. Who, if not you yourself, can take care of you, feed you, dress you, put on shoes, take you to work in the morning?
In life, you will never have more stable support than from yourself. Parents are not eternal, a loved one can leave, and friends can dissolve in time. You have to live with yourself until the very end. So why not start making friends with your body, your desires and capabilities? nine0003
7. Remember that there is not only a “should” but also a “can”
You need to go to work, maintain business contacts, take care of your health, eat right, etc.