Why change can make you happier
Change is exciting, yet it's also one of the things that we're programmed to fear most. Uncertainty and a lack of control when changes happen in your life can leave you feeling like events are spiralling out of control, which can cause stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. But sometimes it takes change to make you appreciate the things you have right now, or to realise that you have been stuck in a rut and need to get out of it. Change isn't always a positive thing, but the right type of change can make you happier - here's why.
The world we live in
Change can make you happier, an ongoing study by the German Institute for Economic Research has revealed. The project, which has interviewd over 60,000 participants since it began in 1984, looks at what makes us happy (1). The world we live in can have a huge impact on our happiness levels - that means changes to government and social policy could impact your well-being (a major reason to vote), whilst the choices you make can also affect your happiness in the long term. But what about changes we all have to go through, like moving house or the breakup of a relationship?
Moving house - it's all good!
Moving house has to be one of the most stressful life events, but for many of us it's also an opportunity to embrace change. Whether you're moving to a new country, city, area or even just a new apartment round the corner from where you currently live, there is the opportunity to start afresh. Most of the de-cluttering we do in our lives happens when we move house, and you could find you're less attached to your belongings than you think. Living with less gives you more time to focus on the experiences and people that make you happy, rather than seeking happiness in material possessions. You might throw away old furniture that won't match the decor of your new place, or just downsize and clear out things you no longer need.
This sort of change can have a psychological impact. Moving to a new area or city means you'll be starting with a clean slate, so to speak. It's often the time when we begin a new job, take up new hobbies and widen our social circle. These sorts of changes can break the feeling of being stuck in a rut and can help you to be more flexible. When every week is the same - Monday morning is workout time, Wednesday nights are for yoga classes and Fridays are for meeting mates at the pub - life can become a little stale. Whilst we all need some routine, too much is a bad thing!
Changing jobs - a new challenge
Changing your job can be stressful - not only will you have a new role to learn and different colleagues to work with, but you'll also have to contend with changing pay dates, depending on when you leave your old job! Getting a new job often boosts our confidence and makes us happier. You may feel scared, but try to remember the reasons you left your old job - whether it was for a new career move, a pay rise or just more opportunities at a different company. Changing jobs is generally a positive experience.
Nobody likes breakups and if you've recently split up with your husband, wife or partner, you might be feeling sorry for yourself. We all need time to mourn the end of a relationship. but you should always try to stay optimistic! Change like this can make you happier and now that you're single, think of all the thing you can do that you never had time for before. The end of a relationship can be a time of really positive change when you grow and learn about yourself. You'll learn what you do (and don't) want from a partner, become more confident and independent and have time to spend trying all those new things you now have time for - boxing class anyone?
Get some attitude
It's not the change per se that makes you happier - it's your attitude towards change. We've all got that one friend who hops from job to job, quitting to travel around Thailand for a year and posting Facebook pictures of adventures backpacking through Vietnam. This is the person who embraces change head on and views every opportunity as an adventure. Whilst it can be difficult modifying your attitude towards change and letting go of fear, sometimes the things we are supposed to do are those which scare us the most! If you're experiencing, or about to experience, a major change in your life - try these tips to approach things with a positive attitude:
- Keep smiling. Nobody is going to know how freaked out you are on the inside if you appear calm, happy and in control!
- Say yes. Ever read the book "Yes Man" by Danny Wallace (or seen the film with Jim Carrey)? Saying yes to opportunities and change is the only way that things will move forward in your life, even if that seems like a bit of a scary prospect. Remember, if something is making you unhappy, you can always change it!
- Be afraid and embrace the feeling. You're going to feel terrified when it comes to some changes, like moving out after a breakup and going it alone, but part of that fear is excitement mixed with panic about what lies ahead. Accept that it's ok to feel freaked out and keep pushing forwards with a positive mindset
- Talk to a friend. If you're feeling really stressed out, research shows that a strong support network is vital. Talking to a friend or family member can help you to calm down and get you back to feeling like your old self.
We're huge fans of change - even if it can be a bit scary from time to time - and we're actually wondering right now what changes 2015 has in store for Expertrain! Do you have any changes you're expecting to make in your life this year? Maybe you're planning to lose weight, move to a new city or just be more active? Tell us about it below or on Twitter - we love hearing from you all!
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