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Create Happy Habits

Here are some guidelines for building small habits incrementally.

From the CONCERN: EAP Resilience Library

Those who are consistently happy tend to follow a set of habits that generate a more lasting sense of contentment in their lives. Introducing impactful, happy habits into your day can help you build a fulfilled future. Here are some guidelines for building small habits incrementally.

Start small and be specific. Pick the tiniest step that moves you toward your goal. Make it SO tiny that it sounds ridiculous. If you try to start a habit and it’s too big, or too hard, it decreases your chance for success. Make your new habit shorter and easier to accomplish and eventually, you’ll build up to something harder.

Find an anchor. Choose an existing routine to act as a trigger for your new healthy habit. If your new habit is to be more active, maybe make a pact to walk around your car every time you park it.

Make it a streak. Studies show that the longer you keep at a habit, the more likely you are to keep going.  Once we’ve got a streak going, we hate to lose it.

Celebrate. Pat yourself on the back each time you accomplish your new habit. Little celebrations help reinforce the desired behavior.

Now, consider these small steps toward happiness that can add up to big returns down the road.

Try Simple Subtraction

  • Instead of adding things to be happy, improve your life by subtracting. For example, before you shop away your woes, try a spring cleaning to clear your head and streamline your environment. Make it a habit to organize your desk before you leave it for a fresh start the next day.
  • Think about how you spend your time. Do you have habitual, unnecessary activities dragging down your day? Try eliminating them for a few days to create more breathing room in your routine. Sometimes making room for new habits means setting aside old ones.

Write It Down

  • Make a list of behaviors and activities that make you happy, like exercising or listening to your favorite music. Make a habit of doing at least one of these a day.
  • Write down what happiness looks like to you. Include moments from your past and present that have left you with a sense of fulfillment and joy. Make a habit of pausing to call up these moments throughout the day for a quick, effective happiness boost.

Pro Tip: Go easy on yourself. Don’t let the voice in your head be your worst critic. Building positive self-assessment habits is a subtle but effective catalyst for happiness.

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