Bob Marley made it sound so easy, but feeling happy no matter your situation forms a challenge for most of us. It’s hard to be bursting with joy when you’re exhausted and in pain, or when you’re struggling with money troubles and heartache.
Over the past decades, countless of popular psychology books and articles have shown us that there are things we can do to influence our level of happiness. Although our genes and life circumstances definitely play a role too, we can all take steps to get happier.
Of course, that’s great news. And recommended habits like practicing gratitude, moving your body regularly, spending time in nature and building strong relationships all prove to boost your emotional wellbeing. But is the pursuit of happiness actually making us feel better?
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“Life is like a story; it unfolds its beauty and tragedy along with your thoughts.” ― Debasish Mridha
You know how you can predict how your typical boy-meets-girl romcom will go and yet you’re still excited to see the movie? That’s because the human brain is hard-wired for stories.
Life rarely goes as planned, and our life story is how we all make sense of an unpredictable world and our place in it. We turn a complex, disjointed situation into a plot with a beginning, middle and an ending – including the occasional twist, cliffhanger, villains and heroes.
Life stories are not a chronological summary of events that occurred, but more a fluid narrative of how you interpret those life events. The messages our parents gave us growing up, the experiences we’ve had, the environment we live in – they all shape the story we tell ourselves about life, the world around us and our own identity.
In turn, those beliefs shape our daily reality. For example, if deep down you feel that you aren’t good enough, you’ll probably react differently to a comment about your looks than your confident friend. Beliefs about your basic personality tend to create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you consider yourself a shy person, you’re less likely to apply for that top position you secretly want. That’s why the life story you tell yourself matter much more than you think.
Narrative psychology tries to separate the person from their problems, by framing their story in a larger context. What’s more, the techniques help to create an alternative, more constructive storyline than the one you’re telling yourself right now.
Are you ready for the next chapter? Read how you can turn the page and watch a better story unfold with these 14 life story quotes.
For as long as I can remember, writing down my thoughts, hopes, dreams and plans has instantly made me feel better. So to me, it’s no surprise that journaling has so many benefits for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Trusting your deepest feelings to paper helps to reduce stress, which plays a major role in your overall health. Research shows that emotionally expressing yourself through journaling can strengthen your immunity and reduces symptoms in asthma and arthritis patients. And of course, traditional journaling is also a great tool for self-reflection and personal development, and to rewrite your personal story after traumatic events.
But a diary-style of writing isn’t the only way to keep a journal. Gratitude journaling has gained a lot of popularity over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. Study after study shows that writing down 3 positive things that happened that day is one of the most effective ways to feel happier.
Writing by hand also signals to your brain that ‘this is worth remembering’, which is why so many people use a journal to define their (health) goals and visions. If you write and read your dreams, plans and to-dos every day, you’ll be much more likely to actually achieve them.
No matter if you’re looking to boost your health, happiness or self-growth, grab yourself a journal – I recommend the beautiful & inspiring collection from Emily McDowell – and start jotting down your thoughts with these 40 journal prompts!
Resting sounds so balanced and zen – until it’s something you have to do. When you live with chronic illness, the key to managing your precious energy is alternating activities with plenty of relaxation. Not to mention that thanks to the unpredictability of chronic illness, symptoms can flare up at any time, forcing you to stop and take a break.
At first, binge-watching your favorite series all day long feels fun. But when you’re stuck in bed a lot of the time, while you’d rather be doing something else, resting becomes dreadful, mind-numbingly boring and lonely.
So when you’re having another undesired rest day, is there anything you can do to make the most of your situation? In general, there are 3 strategies you can apply:
Focus on deep restoration and replenishing. By doing simple things that support your health, you may reduce your symptoms – or even the number of future rest days.
Have a better time. Who doesn’t want to feel more comforted and entertained when you’re sick?
Living your best life while being housebound. Of course this is not what you signed up for. But your illness doesn’t have to stop you from doing tiny things that are meaningful to you.
Obviously, what works for you depends a lot on your personal situation. Do you need to rest after doing something fun, or because you’re exhausted from folding laundry? Are you feeling really sick too? Do you live alone or do you have partners, kids or pets that require your attention?
Not all tips will work for everyone, but here’s a list of 47 ideas of how you can make the most of rest days.
Do you secretly fantasize about all the amazing things you’d love to achieve one day?
The beginning of a new year feels like a blank page, waiting to be filled with wonderful adventures. Dreaming about the perfect job, a fantasy wedding or the trip of a lifetime may feel like a luxury, or something that only kids do. But having a vision about your ideal life has more power than you’d think. Dreams drive you and give you purpose. They give you the motivation you need to build healthy habits and overcome obstacles in your way. Dreams can also make you see the world from a new point of view, because what you focus on, grows.
Although countless of experts emphasize the importance of goal setting to actually achieve your dreams – and rightfully so – you shouldn’t underestimate the magic of dreaming itself. Because like John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Sometimes, having a fixed goal and tight strategy in mind can make you feel like a failure when things don’t go as planned. When you’re chronically ill, for example, it might be easier on the heart to be flexible about how and when you reach a (modified) version of your dreams.
No matter which hopes, desires and ambition you wish to fulfill, let these 15 kick-ass quotes inspire you to go after your dreams.
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