How can I feel happier with SmartCitti’s app?
The way SmartCitti builds your happiness
5 Jun 2021
Happiness is infectious – happy people tend to make people around them happy and smiling at a stranger often makes them smile back at you. With over 80% of respondents in a recent survey claiming that they feel less happy than ever, are there things we can do as individuals to boost our own happiness levels?
The great news is yes, there are habits and lifestyle behaviors to build into your day that will make you feel happier. We have asked a couple of experts to help us put together a 30-day plan to help you feel happier and more energized. You can easily use the SmartCitti app to help you do this. Download SmartCitti free and get started today.
How to make happiness a habit?
Marina Buff, a wellness coach from Alabama says: “It takes thirty days of repeating an action every day for our brains to form a habit.
“If you find the time to do something positive every morning for thirty days your brain will have built a habit and it will become part of your daily routine. You will crave healthy foods and you will want to do exercise.
“Let’s say you can never find the energy or motivation to exercise. If you can make yourself exercise every day for thirty days, you’ll find it easy to go every morning after that first month because it will have become a habit and you’ll have formed an automatic routine which your brain will be expecting to be rewarded for because it will crave the happy feelings you get after a workout.
“Positive habits help build other positive habits. So, if you have worked out in the morning, you’re less likely to want to eat unhealthy foods that day and undo all your hard work, you’re more likely to sleep better that night as you’ll be less stressed, and then you’ll wake up the next day with the energy to work out and so on.
“This applies to everything in your day-to-day life. You can train your brain to want to do yoga each morning, you can train it to want to meditate before you go to sleep and to crave healthy foods that boost your brain’s happiness levels.
“This is also how unhealthy habits and behaviors are formed, but in about the same time you can undo them. If you are a smoker but manage to stop for an entire month your whole body will have started to adapt to life without cigarettes. They’ll smell and taste different, and you won’t enjoy them anymore.
“We tend to crave more of the foods we have eaten recently, so if you want to eat healthier, the trick is to eat healthy for a few days and you’ll start to crave it.
“The same goes for the gym, you’ll be physically fitter after a month so will find routines easier. You won’t have to drag yourself to the gym you’ll look forward to going and enjoying some stress relief and the happy feelings you’ll notice afterwards.”
Train your brain to think about what makes you happy
“You can also train your brain to think about what makes you happy, rather than focusing on what makes you feel sad,” Marina says.
“Waking up and thinking negative thoughts can become a habit. People become addicted to being stressed, thinking they can only perform at work if they make themselves anxious and as though they need to do everything in a rush.
“In fact, it’s a very disorganized way of working and the people around you won’t be performing to the best of their abilities either.
“You’ll all become stressed and your work as a team won’t be as good. But you can turn that around. One happy, calm person can inspire the others around them to do their best too.”
Studies have shown that people who are happy and not permanently stressed do better in their careers long-term.
Marina says: “If you’re used to finding fault with your colleagues, or being stressed, or looking at all the things you think aren’t quite right in your world, it can be easy to forget looking at and appreciating all the things in your everyday life that make you happy.
“Feeling annoyed with your family leads to more feelings of stress. How we look at the world each day makes a big difference, and it starts from the moment we wake up.”
Looking at other people’s lives can be an unhappiness trap that people sometimes fall into, Marina says: “Scrolling through social media can be a terrible unhappiness trap,” she explains. “It’s all fake and people start looking around and thinking other people have better lives than them and they can feel envious and resentful.
“That in turn might make them turn to junk food or alcohol as a quick fix to feel happy, but it doesn’t work, they feel worse and so perhaps they have a few more drinks that night and they wake up the next day and feel awful. It can be very easy to become trapped in a vicious cycle of negativity that can seem impossible to get out of.”
Focus on being happy and make that a daily habit
There is a way out, Marina says: “The key is focusing on being happy and making that a consistent, daily habit. It’s possible to have a positive change or shift in your perspective. You just need to set aside 30 days and you can do it.
“For the next thirty days, commit to being happy, eating healthy, brain-boosting foods, managing your stress levels in a healthy way, and sleeping better at night.
“Visit the places that make you feel happiest and see doing that as an essential part of each day, rather than as a special treat.
“It’ll make a huge difference to every single area of your life, from work to personal relationships and finances. This kind of perspective shift away from negative thoughts and behaviors is truly liberating.”
Track your daily happiness levels with SmartCitti
An app like SmartCitti allows you to track where you have been each day and how happy you were whilst you were there. You can look back and see if you liked a place and then decide to visit again if you were happy while you were there.
“This is so much more than an app,” Marina says. “It’s a tool that helps you build happiness long-term. You can effectively insure yourself against unhappiness and negativity.”
“Track where you go every day for thirty days in the app and build more happiness each day as your goal. At the end of each day sit back and rate your mood and look at where you have been. Make a point to go back to the places where you were happy.”
How to build exercise into every single day
Try building happy moments into every single day, no matter what else is going on in your life. Long-term you’ll be better equipped to deal with life’s pressures if you’re happier, Marina says.
“Of course, you might have to work on some of the days or look after children or the seniors in your family, but you can always make more time for yourself,” she insists. “You must make time to look after yourself so you can truly be present when you’re with your loved ones, instead of being distracted and stressed.”
Lucy Marshall, a fitness trainer from Florida says everyone can find 30 minutes a day to exercise: “You can wake up half an hour earlier and workout, go for a walk at lunchtime, during your workday, or after work,” she says. “It’s key to do some exercise each day, and to remember that as far as being happy is concerned, when you don’t feel like working out is exactly when you should work out.
“Saying you’re too busy and stressed to exercise doesn’t make sense because exercise has been shown to combat stress. It lowers the body’s stores of the stress hormone cortisol, so you’ll be less likely to crave junk foods and you’ll sleep better at night too. If you’re very busy and stressed, exercise is a must to help you cope.”
The best exercise to boost endorphins is high intensity interval training (HIIT) and scientists recommend that one hour of intense exercise is the easiest way to up your body’s endorphin levels instantly.
“This will give you more energy while reducing feelings of stress,” Lucy says. “Runner’s high is not a myth. If you don’t like interval training, you could try doing time on an exercise bike, or you could go for a run, or just go for a brisk walk.
“You don’t have to go to the gym. Watch the sun rise or set as you walk or treat yourself to a lovely half hour of yoga.”
There are many studies which have shown that people who practice yoga regularly rate themselves to be happier and healthier than when they didn’t practice yoga. Some studies have shown that yoga reduces fatigue, anxiety, and anger.
“It’s all about the happy feelings you get from exercise, so let that be your motivation,” Lucy adds. “I advise most people to do some cardio, some strength training plus some yoga each week. But do whichever exercise you love and will find easy to keep up long-term.
“The trick is don’t overthink it. If you’re sitting on the sofa arguing with yourself about going to the gym, just grab your kit and go, telling yourself you’ll only do ten minutes. Once you’re there you’ll find doing more than that easy. A great tip is doing group classes as you have others around you and that adds accountability. It’s very hard to leave a group class early. Then once you are there remember that you’re doing this for you, because you are worth it and because you deserve it.”
Eat yourself happy – how to eat healthy foods every day
You might crave comfort food after a long and stressful day, but you can just as easily eat healthy versions of those foods that will help you feel happier after you’ve eaten them.
For example, if you’re craving chocolate, why not have a few slices of dark chocolate? You could whizz together half an avocado, a large spoonful of cacao powder, a drizzle of almond milk and a spoonful of honey to make an extremely healthy brain and mood-boosting chocolate mousse.
Feel-good brain boosting foods
- Quinoa – switch this in instead of rice with curries or stir fries.
- Eggs – rich in protein and the nutrient choline, which helps produce neurotransmitters and improve mood. Eggs are rich in amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and magnesium which helps ease anxiety.
- Salmon – the omega 3 fatty acids in salmon will help give your brain a boost. Why not have it with sliced oven baked sweet potato as a healthy version of fish and chips?
- Mushrooms – packed with vitamin D these are a great option to have as a side with any meal.
- Dark chocolate – said to boost endorphin levels, it’s too rich to gorge on as well. A few slices are enough.
- Foods with probiotics – such as kefir and yogurt are always great as a dessert and probiotics are said to have a calming effect on the body.
- B6 vitamins – poultry, leafy greens, and beef. B vitamins help the body to convert tryptophan into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in boosting mood.
- Grapes – these are rich in reservatrol, an antioxidant proven to boost mood.
- Folic acid – bok choy, turnip greens and bananas – Did you know that a drop in folic acid levels has been linked with low serotonin levels?
Aim for three meals a day which include at least some of the above foods but remember not to eat too late at night as indigestion and inflammation from eating after 8pm has been linked with insomnia.
The ideal daily happiness diet – example menu
- Breakfast - an omelet with salmon, eggs, mushrooms, and spinach.
- Lunch – lean chicken or turkey with quinoa, a pile of leafy greens and salad. You could have a few slices of dark chocolate or a yoghurt for dessert.
- Dinner – spinach, spring onion, and kale soup.
- Snacks - A bowl of grapes to snack on throughout the evening.
- Drinks – Try probiotic rich kombucha instead of soda, cut back on caffeine after 4pm.
TIP: Cook extra the night before and pack it up so you can eat it for lunch at work the next day. You can also batch cook and freeze soups and healthy meals, so you always have something healthy to hand.
How to sleep yourself happier
SmartCitti has done studies into people’s happiness levels and we’ve found a definite dip in happiness in the past year, because of people feeling stressed. Many people across the globe have been saying their stress levels are high over the past year, and lack of sleep comes hand in hand with stress.
“You can make a few small changes and learn to sleep well,” Marina Buff says. “Make sure you don’t drink any caffeine after 4pm and cut back on screens after 8pm.
“Try reading a book instead of scrolling on your phone in the evening. Have a no work emails or social media policy after 8pm. Even watching television stimulates the brain meaning it can be hard to sleep if you watch lots of thrillers on television all evening.
“The ideal would be to light some scented candles, have a long bath filled with Epsom salts, which are rich in magnesium and ease stress, and then go to bed.
“Sleep meditations work well. They take about ten minutes to unwind your brain and body so you can rest. You can put one on and get used to how they work and eventually you’ll be able to meditate and go to sleep on your own without using a pre-recorded script.”
You could also try doing some gentle yoga before you go to bed to help your body and mind to relax.
What an example happy day looks like with SmartCitti
If you’re wondering how SmartCitti’s app can help you build happiness, here’s an example of how a Saturday might look.
- 7 am - Wake up
- 8am - Work out for 30 minutes doing a workout at a local gym a friend told you she loved
- 8.45am Message with your inner circle of family and friends through the SmartCitti app
- 9am – Breakfast of scrambled eggs, leafy greens, and mushrooms
- 10am – 10 minutes of meditation
- 10.20am – 10 minutes of energizing morning yoga
- 10.30am – Plan to have a happy day. Think about the things, activities and people in my life that make me happiest – plan to focus on these more. Check out the latest places where friends and family have been happy on SmartCitti, also see recommendations from the local community
- 10.50am – Search for insurance coverage quotes for auto insurance coverage as purchasing a new car this week
- 11am – Drive to meet a friend for coffee at that new place I saw she rated on SmartCitti as a happy place
- 1pm – Lunch of lean turkey, salad, and quinoa at my favorite restaurant
- 1.30pm – Brisk walk outside in local park people are saying on SmartCitti they’ve seen beautiful seasonal flowers in bloom
- 2pm – Shopping at the mall I rated as a happy place when I visited three weeks ago
- 4pm – Meet friends at the diner we went to last week where we all loved the healthy smoothies and left happiness ratings
- 5pm – Review my safe driving reports in SmartCitti, check I’ve been driving safely, review my own, my family’s and my friends’ happy places and plan to visit these places again soon. Rate and review the places I’ve been to today and check in with friends and family
- 6pm – Supper of smoked salmon with spinach. Yoghurt for dessert
- 7pm – Watch the sunset with family or friends
- 8pm – Family time or me-time
- 9pm – Relaxing bath
- 10pm – Read a good book
- 10.50pm – Do 10-minutes minutes of sleep yoga
- 11pm – 10-minute sleep meditation
- 11.10pm – Sleep
This is just an example of how your day might look, and you’ll get used to using SmartCitti yourself and making it work for you once you’ve downloaded it and looked around.
Of course, you’ll have to factor in things like going to the office, or looking after children, but even if you just aim to do one thing a day that makes you happier, it will help you build happiness long-term.