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Teaching yourself to be happy is not easy. It’s fairly simple to state things you do which make you feel more wholesome, but it’s another thing to actually implement happiness on a daily basis.
The ‘weekend effect’ has long been known to make people happy, regardless of what job they might be in. Although some might use their weekends to catch up on work, others look forward to switching off, relaxing and unwinding with the complete freedom to choose what they want to do.
Personally, I try to fall in the latter category as much as possible. Working on the weekend (unless there’s no way around it, of course) makes me stressed, sleep-deprived and resentful, when I’d rather be rested, happy and ready to take on the next week.
If you’re able to feed this happy ‘weekend’ feeling into other parts of your life, chances are you will slowly build up a set of habits which will help, over time, to make you a much happier employer, colleague or worker.
Start with some of the below this weekend, and see how you go:
1. Disconnect a little bit at a time
Switching off your phone isn’t nearly as big a deal as you might think it is. However, I admit I find it difficult to switch off entirely.
What I do on some weekends is slowly cut technology out of my life. I might switch off my work emails on Saturday, or just leave my phone at home when I pop out for lunch with friends.
Try it. If the sky doesn’t fall in, then do it again the next day, and try switch off for even longer. You’ll be surprised how well other people can actually get along without you.
2. Break a bad habit
The weekend is a great time to pause and reflect on the previous five days of work. Take a moment to think about – what did you do this week that you wish you didn’t?
Perhaps you smoked when you said you wouldn’t, or maybe you didn’t delegate the tasks you promised yourself you would to help with your workflow. Whatever it is, use the weekend to take stock of where you might have fallen short, and make a conscious decision to rectify it next week.
In fact, scientists have found that even trying to give something up – like chocolate or constantly checking emails – works just as well as actually kicking a habit.
3. Say ‘thank you’
It’s such a small thing, but so many people forget their manners on a daily basis. This weekend, whether you’re at a restaurant or buying a bottle of water from 7-11, make sure you actively say thank you to everyone who helps you out. Once you get in the habit, bring that habit back to the office with you.
As we all know, it’s the small gestures which count in keeping your employees happy.
4. Take a trip
Science has proven experiences play a bigger part in making people happy than buying material items does.
If you were planning on spending your weekend purchasing a new phone, iPad, or whatever, you can still do that, but try following it up with a small day-trip with your family, even if it’s just an overnighter somewhere nearby, or a day trip to Pulau Ubin if you’re based in Singapore.
Getting far, far away from the office and out of your regular routine might be just what you need.
5. Try to get exactly 6 hours and 20 minutes of sleep
Apparently, this is the magic number of hours you need to sleep in order to remain functional and happy.
This UK study of 4,000 adults found the happiest people worked just more than seven hours a day, ate five home-cooked meals a week and went on at least two holidays every year.
Happy people also go out with friends at least once a week, watch three episodes of their favourite TV show and go to the gym or do some form of exercise four times a week.
That’s not too hard to try and keep up, is it?
6. Identify something creative which gives you pleasure
I have been meaning to start painting again for years, and this weekend I might actually finally go and buy myself an easel and some oil paints.
Finding something creative which brings you effortless enjoyment is the key to happiness, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Whether it’s taking an adult dance class, writing a short story, or simply drawing with your kids, give it a go and see whether it’s something that brings you enough joy to carry on doing in the future.
7. Make new friends
Research has shown the happiest people in the world have at least 10 good friends, while those with fewer than five good friends have just a 40% chance of being happy.
Although it’s unclear whether friendships make us happy or we make new friends because we are happy, the truth is that good friendships need to be looked after.
Meet someone new this weekend and make an effort to form a bond with them. If it turns into a new friendship, great. And if not, you won’t have put your networking skills to waste.
8. Write down your achievements
This is something some of the most successful people in the world often cite as being the best way they can align their overall goals with their actual achievements.
Even if all that’s in your journal to begin is “went to the gym” it’s a great place to start if one of your goals was “go to the gym”. It’s as easy as that.
Also make sure you take note of which goals were met because you wanted to achieve them, rather than ones you think you should have achieved (and therefore maybe rushed them, even when you didn’t want to). This will help you identify what actually makes you happy.
This self-awareness is critical to knowing what you want out of life.
The first Managing Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace online course will be launched in December.
Register your interest for the course at the introductory price of SGD199.