Is it possible to find a home designed to make you happier? Yes it is, and learning to look for these characteristics can help you buy the right home for you. Searching for a home can be a very emotional process and many features look like they will make us happy, but living in a home is different from previewing a home. Science has shown that some home features can help you develop healthy habits that contribute to happiness. If you know what things to look for, you can find a home that is designed to enhance your happiness just by living in it.
Some neighborhoods are also designed to promote happiness. Check out my article on: 12 signs of a Happy Neighborhood. If you’re not ready to buy a new home yet you should still consider these tips for a happy home. What can you change in your home so that it propels you toward developing happy habits?
It is recommended that you have only one TV screen in your house. Ideally this TV would be located in an out-of-the-way room in a cabinet. This will encourage socializing and communication throughout the home. How many rooms in the house are oriented toward a television screen? You can change the dynamic of these rooms by rearranging the furniture to encouraged people to sit across from each other and socialize, instead of next to each other gazing at a television screen. As exciting as having a television in each room may seem when house shopping, remember how it affects the home dynamic once your family moves in.
Take the televisions out of bedrooms. This includes children’s rooms as wells as the master bedroom. Televisions can harm your natural sleep cycle and make it hard to get enough sleep. Research shows that removing the television from a child’s room will encourage them to do more physical activities resulting in lower body-fat index and better social skills. Removing the television from the master bedroom will also encourage more communication.
Remove the TV from the kitchen as well. This will help prevent the tendency to mindlessly eat while watching a show. Keeping food and the television close together can increase excess calorie consumption because it is easy.
On a side note, the television used to be the only screen in the home. But now families have phones, tablets, and computers adding to the screen time. Restricting the amount of “screen-time” in the home can promote a higher sense of well-being and happiness in the home.
Not only does cable provide an endless stream of mindless entertainment, it also reduces happiness. An Israeli study suggests that the vast amount of choices offered by cable television reduce satisfaction with the shows you watch. People are more satisfied with the shows they watch when their options are limited by local programming. If you can’t find anything to watch on regular television, turn it off and find something else to do.
With more cable comes more idealized scenarios to compare yourself to. These comparisons have a negative impact on your life satisfaction. Watching television also increases worries about children as the world is portrayed in a sensationalized manner. Cable also increases feelings of guilt for not doing the myriad of things that are presented to you as ‘the norm’.
Own a Pet
This may sound counter intuitive but there are many studies that show pet owners are generally healthier and happier than those without pets. Pet owners have lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones in their system. In fact, having a pet was found to have a greater impact on reducing stress than having a spouse or a friend. This is probably because pets improve self-esteem, encourage calmness, have a soothing effect, and provide a feeling of acceptance.
Pets are non-judgmental and provide an opportunity for us to take the focus off of our own needs and problems and focus on the needs of someone else. Because these needs are simpler to fulfill we generate a greater sense of accomplishment and control. If a dog needs to be walked every day, guess who else gets a walk.
Older people who have a pet have been shown to have fewer minor health problems and have to visit the doctor less often. In fact, on average, pet owners have lower health care costs than non-pet owners.
Create a Meditation Space
Having a room, nook, or closet dedicated to relaxation and meditation will increase the happiness in your home. Meditating on a regular basis activates areas of the brain where pleasure is processed. It also inhibits the areas of the brain that register pain. Meditation can take many forms and does not require you to sit in full-lotus pose surrounded by trickling water fountains. Meditation can be as simple as relaxing, closing your eyes, and counting your breaths. Another popular form of mindful meditation involves doing a slow scan of your body head to toe and acknowledging each body part. Regardless of your method of meditation, having a dimly lit place in your home where you can sit comfortably will make you more likely to meditate daily.
The important thing about your meditation room is making it a place where you can get away to relax and clear your mind. Quietness and isolation are the primary qualities the room must have. You can even use a corner of the bedroom that you can partition off so you won’t be bothered while you’re there. It does not require elaborate furnishings or decoration. Enhancements for your space could include candles, music, fountains, figurines, and soft lighting. Be sure to keep your meditation space clean and free from clutter to maximize your ability to relax.
Designate a ‘Groove’ Room
Do you have certain projects or tasks that require just the right balance of engagement, effort, and skills, so that you feel like you’re in a groove? This state of working provides you with the opportunity to use your talents in a way that keeps you interested and challenged. When you are in your “groove” you are able to let time melt away so you can focus on the fulfillment of completing your task. Just as creating a room for meditation will increase the likelihood of your meditation, having a “groove” room will provide more opportunities to work in your groove.
Your groove room should be conducive to the activities that you find engaging. This could be a room that makes it easy to play an instrument, or to work on a hobby, or to just read a book or play a family game. If the room is large enough include a large table so other family members can work on their projects in this room as well. Line the room with books and supplies. Eliminate the clocks, TVs, computers, or other gadgets that can distract from your groove activity. Make this room the most aesthetically pleasing room in the house to attract people to it. It should have the best lighting and the nicest furniture. You’ll be more inclined to spend time in this room if it feels nice to be there.
Make a Pride Shrine
A pride shrine is an area dedicated to displaying things that make your happy. This should be located in a private part of your home that you frequently see. The purpose is to consistently and routinely remind yourself of the things you’re proud of. This includes your accomplishments and your family. A common place for the pride shrine is between the master bedroom and the bathroom. You can hang pictures on the wall, fill a curio cabinet, place objects on a bookcase, or dedicate a special table for your objects. Every time you walk by this shrine you will feel a sense of pride surge through your body and remember your many accomplishments.
Have a Garden
Did you know that gardening lowers stress hormones? Well it does. Cultivating a garden requires consistent, low-impact, full-range activity to keep it going. This includes planting, weeding, tilling, harvesting, and more. Having a garden nudges you into this daily exercise that has a large impact on your overall happiness and well-being. We have a good growing season here in Utah and having a garden can help you get outside to enjoy the summer months. Some communities even provide community gardening space that adds healthy socializing to your gardening activity. It is an additional benefit that you end up with healthful vegetables at harvest time.
Let the Sunshine in
We often hear people determined to find a South facing home so they don’t have to shovel their driveway. Some want a North facing home so their yard receives more sunlight and warmth. Whatever direction your home faces, you can maximize your exposure to sunlight by providing access to outside areas. Make these outdoor areas appealing so you spend more time using them. This includes patios, decks, and fire pits as well as having lawn-chairs and hammocks for relaxing in the sunlight. Sunlight helps the body produce endorphins that give you a feeling similar to a runner’s high. It also helps the body produce vitamin D which most Americans don’t get enough of. Getting adequate exposure to the sun can produce more vitamin D in the body than you’d get from a gallon of milk.
Having South facing windows will help let more sunlight in during the winter months when you won’t be outdoors as often and the days are shorter. Even though the sun streaming in through the glass won’t be as effective in generating vitamin D and endorphins, it still has a positive effect on the mind. When your eyes are exposed to bright sunlight on a regular basis it helps combat the winter blues.
Paint Your Mood
Many modern homes rely on soft and muted colors in the homes interior. This is unfortunate because research has shown that color influences your mood. It has been found that using color to emphasize the mood that should exist in your rooms will enhance the mood in that room. For example painting the living room a bright yellow will promote energy and a bright mood. Soothing colors should be used to promote relaxation in bedrooms and your meditation room. The use of color extends beyond wall paint to decorations and furniture. When searching for a home don’t be too impressed or turned off by paint or the lack of paint. This is one of the simplest ways to make a home your own. Use colors that make you happy.
For optimal health and well being each adult should get 6-7 hours of sleep each night. Now there are going to be those who say, “ya right, not with my kids” or “I’m always on the clock”. But you can design your bedroom to make the time you spend in there more conducive to sleep. No matter how long or short that amount of time is. If you can minimize the use of the alarm clock it will do wonders to maximizing your sleep. You’ll feel best when you can let your body wake you up naturally.
First you need to recognize that your bedroom should be primarily for sleeping. Eliminate TVs, computers, brightly glowing clocks, and other distractions. Make sure the room can get dark and cool. If you live in an area with a light of light outside, install window coverings to keep out the light pollution. If you are a reader and books help you sleep, keep your reading material close to your bed so you can set it down and sleep when you’re tired. Even though tablets and phones are convenient for reading, they produce a lot of light which can stimulate wakefulness in your brain and make it hard to sleep. Make sure you use a lamp or light within arms reach of the bed so you can easily turn it off when you’re ready to sleep.