“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
– Marcus Aurelius
I was recently speaking to Tom Williams, the founder of Desert Island Survival (which is exactly what it sounds like), about the breakthroughs people have when they go on these excursions to a desert island where they do nothing but survive for ten days.
He said, “We talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and try to achieve self-actualization, but we never actually go back to the basics and build a proper foundation.”
Often, improving our quality of life isn’t about adding, but subtracting — it’s about going back to the basics and nailing some really simple habits.
In fact, here are 5 dead-simple ways you can live a happier life right now.
1. Stop Doom Scrolling — Research reveals a link (pun intended!) between social media use and an increase in anxiety and depression. Surprise, surprise. It’s not particularly good for our dopamine-based reward system to get such easy, finger-flicking highs. Stop scrolling and find something else to do (see #5). Getting off social media will make you happier.
2. Practice Gratefulness — The benefits of intentionally practicing gratitude (i.e. sitting down and writing out things that you’re grateful for in your life) are numerous; higher self-esteem, more optimism, and a better sense of well-being just to name a few. The Five Minute Journal is our favorite habit builder for daily gratitude (they also have an app).
3. Journal — Here are just a few of the science-based benefits of journaling daily: decreased anxiety and depression, better immune functioning, more gratitude, faster recovery from trauma, and better memory. This is another one of those things you should add to your daily routine. If you need a journal, you can buy our spiral journal notebook to support The Tonic (and represent our newsletter!).
4. Watch The River — There’s a river of thoughts that flows constantly inside of your head. Stepping back and watching the river (in other words, realizing that you are not your thoughts) is a critical part of living a happier life. We recommend the Headspace app.
5. Read More Books — According to one study, reading books won’t only make you happier… It’ll also help you live longer. This is a great habit to build and to maintain for the rest of your life. Here are some great fiction books. And here are some great non-fiction books.