Tag Archive | The Third Metric

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier Science Proves

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier Science Proves

***Reposters Note*** Thank You to riseearth.com and bufferapp.com for the information in this post. Happiness is something most of us would choose more of in our lives. Here are some ways to make that choice more of a reality in your life experience. Enjoy.***

Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it.

I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.

1. Exercise more – 7 minutes might be enough

You might have seen some talk recently about the scientific 7 minute workout mentioned in The New York Times. So if you thought exercise was something you didn’t have time for, maybe you can fit it in after all.

happiness Exercise has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it’s actually been proven to be an effective strategy for overcoming depression. In a study cited in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. The results of this study really surprised me. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with, the follow up assessments proved to be radically different:

The groups were then tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!

You don’t have to be depressed to gain benefit from exercise, though. It can help you to relax, increase your brain power and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.

A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercised felt better about their bodies, even when they saw no physical changes:

Body weight, shape and body image were assessed in 16 males and 18 females before and after both 6 × 40 mins exercise and 6 × 40 mins reading. Over both conditions, body weight and shape did not change. Various aspects of body image, however, improved after exercise compared to before.

We’ve explored exercise in depth before, and looked at what it does to our brains, such as releasing proteins and endorphins that make us feel happier, as you can see in the image below.

brain

2. Sleep more – you’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions

We know that sleep helps our bodies to recover from the day and repair themselves, and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out, it’s also important for our happiness.

In NutureShock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explain how sleep affects our positivity:

Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.

In one experiment by Walker, sleep-deprived college students tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81% of the words with a negative connotation, like “cancer.” But they could remember only 31% of the words with a positive or neutral connotation, like “sunshine” or “basket.”

The BPS Research Digest explores another study that proves sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. Using a facial recognition task over the course of a day, the researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative emotions. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive late in the day to negative emotions like fear and anger.

Using a face recognition task, here we demonstrate an amplified reactivity to anger and fear emotions across the day, without sleep. However, an intervening nap blocked and even reversed this negative emotional reactivity to anger and fear while conversely enhancing ratings of positive (happy) expressions.

Of course, how well (and how long) you sleep will probably affect how you feel when you wake up, which can make a difference to your whole day. Especially this graph showing how your brain activity decreases is a great insight about how important enough sleep is for productivity and happiness:

sleep

Another study tested how employees’ moods when they started work in the morning affected their work day.

Researchers found that employees’ moods when they clocked in tended to affect how they felt the rest of the day. Early mood was linked to their perceptions of customers and to how they reacted to customers’ moods.

And most importantly to managers, employee mood had a clear impact on performance, including both how much work employees did and how well they did it.

Sleep is another topic we’ve looked into before, exploring how much sleep we really need to be productive.

3. Move closer to work – a short commute is worth more than a big house

Our commute to the office can have a surprisingly powerful impact on our happiness. The fact that we tend to do this twice a day, five days a week, makes it unsurprising that its effect would build up over time and make us less and less happy.

According to The Art of Manliness, having a long commute is something we often fail to realize will affect us so dramatically:

… while many voluntary conditions don’t affect our happiness in the long term because we acclimate to them, people never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it’s not. Or as Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it, “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.”

We tend to try to compensate for this by having a bigger house or a better job, but these compensations just don’t work:

Two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not make up for the misery created by a long commute.

4. Spend time with friends and family – don’t regret it on your deathbed

Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying. If you want more evidence that it’s beneficial for you, I’ve found some research that proves it can make you happier right now.

Social time is highly valuable when it comes to improving our happiness, even for introverts. Several studies have found that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel, generally.

I love the way Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert explains it:

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

George Vaillant is the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men.

In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

He shared insights of the study with Joshua Wolf Shenk at The Atlantic on how the men’s social connections made a difference to their overall happiness:

The men’s relationships at age 47, he found, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defenses. Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 percent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics states than your relationships are worth more than $100,000:

Using the British Household Panel Survey, I find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.

I think that last line is especially fascinating: Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness. So we could increase our annual income by hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not be as happy as if we increased the strength of our social relationships.

The Terman study, which is covered in The Longevity Project, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives:

We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest.

Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.

5. Go outside – happiness is maximized at 13.9°C

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness:

Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory…

This is pretty good news for those of us who are worried about fitting new habits into our already-busy schedules. Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.

A UK study from the University of Sussex also found that being outdoors made people happier:

Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.

The American Meteorological Society published research in 2011 that found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity, or even the average temperature over the course of a day. It also found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air.

6. Help others – 100 hours a year is the magical number

One of the most counterintuitive pieces of advice I found is that to make yourself feel happier, you should help others. In fact, 100 hours per year (or two hours per week) is the optimal time we should dedicate to helping others in order to enrich our lives.

If we go back to Shawn Achor’s book again, he says this about helping others:

…when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities—such as concerts and group dinners out—brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. Spending money on other people, called “prosocial spending,” also boosts happiness.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study that explored this very topic:

Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future.

So spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves. What about spending our time on other people? A study of volunteering in Germany explored how volunteers were affected when their opportunities to help others were taken away:

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall but before the German reunion, the first wave of data of the GSOEP was collected in East Germany. Volunteering was still widespread. Due to the shock of the reunion, a large portion of the infrastructure of volunteering (e.g. sports clubs associated with firms) collapsed and people randomly lost their opportunities for volunteering. Based on a comparison of the change in subjective well-being of these people and of people from the control group who had no change in their volunteer status, the hypothesis is supported that volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:

…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.

7. Practice smiling – it can alleviate pain

Smiling itself can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:

A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital – improve their mood and withdraw less.

Of course it’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. It’s very easy to spot the difference:

pic1

According to PsyBlog, smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:

Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.

A smile is also a good way to alleviate some of the pain we feel in troubling circumstances:

Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly (this is one example of embodied cognition).

One of our previous posts goes into even more detail about the science of smiling.

8. Plan a trip – but don’t take one

As opposed to actually taking a holiday, it seems that planning a vacation or just a break from work can improve our happiness. A study published in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as employees enjoyed the sense of anticipation:

In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.

Shawn Achor has some info for us on this point, as well:

One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent.

If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.

9. Meditate – rewire your brain for happiness

Meditation is often touted as an important habit for improving focus, clarity and attention span, as well as helping to keep you calm. It turns out it’s also useful for improving your happiness:

In one study, a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brain scans of 16 people before and after they participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. The study, published in the January issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, concluded that after completing the course, parts of the participants’ brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.

Meditation literally clears your mind and calms you down, it’s been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier live. I believe that this graphic explains it the best:

calming-mind-brain-waves

According to Shawn Achor, meditation can actually make you happier long-term:

Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.

The fact that we can actually alter our brain structure through mediation is most surprising to me and somewhat reassuring that however we feel and think today isn’t permanent.

10. Practice gratitude – increase both happiness and life satisfaction

This is a seemingly simple strategy, but I’ve personally found it to make a huge difference to my outlook. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you.

In an experiment where some participants took note of things they were grateful for each day, their moods were improved just from this simple practice:

The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.

The Journal of Happiness studies published a study that used letters of gratitude to test how being grateful can affect our levels of happiness:

Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period.

Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms.

Quick last fact: Getting older will make yourself happier

As a final point, it’s interesting to note that as we get older, particularly past middle age, we tend to grow happier naturally. There’s still some debate over why this happens, but scientists have got a few ideas:

Researchers, including the authors, have found that older people shown pictures of faces or situations tend to focus on and remember the happier ones more and the negative ones less.

Other studies have discovered that as people age, they seek out situations that will lift their moods — for instance, pruning social circles of friends or acquaintances who might bring them down. Still other work finds that older adults learn to let go of loss and disappointment over unachieved goals, and hew their goals toward greater wellbeing.

So if you thought being old would make you miserable, rest assured that it’s likely you’ll develop a more positive outlook than you probably have now.

Photo credit: Spencer Finnley

Source: bufferapp.com

9 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Stop Worrying Plus More

9 Scientifically-Backed Ways To Stop Worrying

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 10/01/2013 8:47 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/01/2013 8:53 am EDT

stop worrying

.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

Indeed, numerous studies have shown that worry not only puts a strain on our mental health, but on our physical health, too. While worry in and of itself is not bad — it spurs us into action, after all — too much of it can lead to anxiety, which can have a lasting impact on health and happiness. For instance, research has shown that anxiety can take a toll on sleep, tax your immune system, raise your risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, and even affect your risk of dying from disease.

The problem with worrying is that it becomes a cycle of self-perpetuating negative thoughts. In a new review, University of Surrey researchers described worry as “a chain of thoughts and images that are affectively negative and relatively uncontrollable.”

So what’s the best way to stop the cycle? We rounded up some research-backed ways:

Set aside a designated “worry time.”
Instead of worrying all day, every day, designate a 30-minute period of time where you can think about your problems. Penn State researchers found in a 2011 study that a four-step stimulus control program could help seriously stressed people take control of their anxieties, LiveScience reported. Step one: Identify the object of worry. Step two: Come up with a time and place to think about said worry. Step three: If you catch yourself worrying at a time other than your designated worry time, you must make a point to think of something else. Step four: Use your “worry time” productively by thinking of solutions to the worries.

Kick your online addiction.
unplug technology
All that time you spend perusing your Facebook newsfeed probably isn’t doing your mental health any favors. A recent study from Anxiety UK showed that nearly half of people feel “worried or uncomfortable” being away from email or Facebook. “These findings suggest that some may need to re-establish control over the technology they use, rather than being controlled by it,” Anxiety UK CEO Nicky Lidbetter said in a statement. Need some ideas for things to do away from your computer or cell phone? We’ve got you covered.

Be mindful.
The most effective strategies to stop worrying and rumination may be ones based in mindfulness, which involves nonjudgmental awareness of present thoughts and emotions, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, according to the University of Surrey review of 19 studies. Particularly, the review noted that “treatments in which participants are encouraged to change their thinking style, or to disengage from emotional response to rumination or worry,” as well as “treatments which enable participants to adopt more concrete and specific thinking or which cognitively restructure thinking in a more positive and constructive way” seem especially effective.

Accept the worry — and then move on.
Worrying about worrying is a dangerous cycle to fall into. A 2005 study in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy showed that people who naturally try to suppress their unwanted thoughts end up being more distressed by said thoughts. Meanwhile, “those who are naturally more accepting of their intrusive thoughts are less obsessional, have lower levels of depression, and are less anxious,” the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers wrote. Therefore, people who get caught up in worry when they try to force themselves to stop worrying may want to try a different strategy — acceptance.

Write your worries down.
journal
Letting all your emotions out on paper before a big exam could help decrease test-taking worry, according to a 2011 study in Science. “It might be counterintuitive, but it’s almost as if you empty the fears out of your mind,” study researcher Sian Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago, told U.S. News. “You reassess that situation so that you’re not as likely to worry about those situations because you’ve slain that beast.” While exams are no longer a threat to many of us, Beilock noted that the approach could work for people facing anxieties for other things.

Cut yourself some slack.
Dr. Susan M. Love, a professor at the David Geffen School of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times that the perceived need to follow all the rules when it comes to health can be a source of stress and worry in itself. Love, who wrote the book “Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health” told The Times that at the end of the day, it’s impossible to have perfect health, and you’re probably a lot healthier than you realize. “Is the goal to live forever?” she said to The Times. “I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. The problem was all of these women I kept meeting who were scared to death if they didn’t eat a cup of blueberries a day they would drop dead.”

Keep your hands busy.
Engaging in activities that keep your hands busy and mind distracted could help prevent flashbacks from traumatic experiences, according to research from the Medical Research Council in England. While the study didn’t examine how this strategy impacts everyday worry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Bob Hirshon pointed out that “keeping your hands and mind busy interferes with storing and encoding visual images.”

Make time for meditation.
meditation
Taking some time to find some zen can really help anxiety in your brain — even brain scans say so. A study published earlier this year in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience showed that meditation training not only lower anxiety levels in people, but it also had effects on the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex brain regions (the former region controls emotions and thinking, the latter controls worrying).

Get your heart pumping.
Exercise may be a predictable way to beat stress, but it’s only predictable because it’s so effective. Research in animals, for instance, shows that exercise can affect brain activity of serotonin (a so-called “happy” brain chemical) as well as reduce the effects of oxidative stress, The New York Times reported. And Well and Good points out studies showing that exercise interventions can result in lower anxiety levels than people who stay tied to the couch. “Several studies have found the effects of aerobic exercise to be initially similar to those of medication,” Jeff Dolgan, an exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach, told Well and Good. “However, in the long term, exercise seems to work better.

***Reposter’s Note

Excellent Article I really wish this information had been around when I was younger.

I went white at a very early age as I was a compulsive worrier to the point, it caused me worry when I realized I wasn’t worrying. It wasted so much of my energy and stopped me from enjoying life to it’s fullest.

Every single one of the above suggestions are part of the solutions but there are a few more things that made the difference for me.

Nutrition.

Nutrition plays a huge role in mental as well as physical health.

Vitamin Mineral supplementt, I found that when I was consistent in taking a really good Vitamin Mineral Supplement I was significantly less prone to worry. After trying many multivitamins and minerals,  we finally found one in liquid form  that tastes good, that is all natural, comes from whole foods, gives us more energy and more good nutrition than anything else we have ever found. We have been extremely satisfied with Daily Complete. The taste and the nutrition are phenomenal, It has 194 vitamins, minerals, organic fruits, organic vegetables, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, Mediterranean herbs, pure phytoplankton. If you want to check it out here is the link. http://deb.awarenesslife.com/index.cfm?action=details&detail=complete

Magnesium , We as a society are now magnesium deficient, it is a natural relaxant that works to relax the body and the mind. It is used by the body in every cell. Minerals are very synergistic so when we are deficient in a mineral that is as significant to the functioning of the body and mind as Magnesium we feel much more on edge and are far less able to manage stress. Below is the link to a post that provides more information but is just the tip of the iceberg. Magnesium applied transdermally has a better absorption rate than by mouth. so consider magnesium salts in a bath or a foot bath or in a body spray form.

For a bit more info: https://allaboutwellnesssolutions.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/magnesium-deficiency-symptoms-and-diagnosis-magnesium-the-wonder-mineral-that-we-all-need-more-of/

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is so much more than a vitamin and plays a huge role in overall health and wellness. It is called the sunshine vitamin as our body is able to make it when our skin is exposed to sunshine. Interestingly it is also effective in improving our outlook on life as going out in the sunshine. There are varied opinions as to how much we need. As we are in Canada, in the winter we personally take 5000 – 10,000 IUs every day and find that we feel happier but also don’t pick up the colds and flu that are floating around.

https://allaboutwellnesssolutions.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/benefits-of-vitamin-d-vitamin-d3-supplements/

https://allaboutwellnesssolutions.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/17/

Omega Fatty Acids

Excerpts from Fighting Depression and Improving Cognition with Omega-3 Fatty Acids – By Laurie Barclay, MD

“The human brain is 60% fat, and omega-3 fatty acids are the fatty acid of choice for the structure of certain parts of brain cell membranes and brain intercellular nerve connections,” Douglas London, MD

“The [evidence] is becoming quite compelling that increasing omega-3 fatty intake enhances many aspects of brain function, including the control of mood and aspects of personality,” Brian M. Ross, MD

***Getting sufficient Omega 3 is also a crucial part of the nutrition component. We use various things like  coconut oil,  hemp hearts and Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil  as part of our diet. Hemp hearts and cold pressed hemp oil have virtually the highest concentrated balance of proteins, fats, vitamins and enzymes.  They are, in essence, a super food and the health benefits of hemp hearts are amazing!

Exercise

We live very busy lives. Exercising is not something we do as a specific but we do get a fair amount of physical movement due to lifestyle. Exercise is needed but often is not a priority for many people even though it is one of the most important components of true mental and physical health. When you feel good, the worry monster has a much harder time disrupting our lives. .

We hedge our bets with our Oxygen Spa. A 15 minute Oxygen Hydrotherapy Session gives us the same benefits as a 1-3 km jog plus a 1 hour massage. It is a huge stress reliever just like good exercise. The benefits of getting more oxygen into the body and a good cardiovascular workout always reduce anxiety and worry. The Oxygen Spa is one of the the cornerstones that has had the largest positive effect on us in quality of life. We have replaced showering with spaing so it does not have a time impact of something more to be fit into already busy lives. If you want to learn more check out this link.

Preventive Healthcare maintenance is investing in your health today. Try it soon!

In Asia, the Oxygen Spa is found in Emergency Rooms, Rehab Facilities, Salons, Spas and homes. It is enjoyable, reduces stress, oxygenate the body, detoxifies, massages, gets the heart pumping and the blood moving.  While taking a bath in millions of bubbles that massage  all of the acupuncture points, one also receives the benefits of hydrotherapy, massage therapy, oxygen therapy, Far-Infrared therapy, ultrasound, Detox and Hydration.

You can contact me Deb via e-mail at allaboutwellness@mail.com or at 780-363-2492 for more info. I have tons. I would love to see these as common in homes as microwaves.

As worry and stress have played a large role in my life, I am grateful to be able to offer some solutions that may benefit others. There is life beyond worry but it does require doing something different. But doing something different also leads to a different outcome that is more than worth the effort for receiving the freedom from worry that is truly liberating and life enhancing.

The Habits Of Supremely Happy People

The Habits Of Supremely Happy People

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 09/16/2013 8:35 am EDT  |  Updated: 09/18/2013 4:14 pm EDT

happiness habits

Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.

In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.”

After exploring what accounts for ultimate satisfaction, Seligman says he was surprised. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is “the whipped cream and the cherry” that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory lives founded by the simultaneous pursuit of meaning and engagement.

And while it might sound like a big feat to to tackle great concepts like meaning and engagement (pleasure sounded much more doable), happy people have habits you can introduce into your everyday life that may add to the bigger picture of bliss. Joyful folk have certain inclinations that add to their pursuit of meaning — and motivate them along the way.

They surround themselves with other happy people.
cosby show
Joy is contagious. Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study who investigated the spread of happiness over 20 years found that those who are surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.” This is reason enough to dump the Debbie Downers and spend more time with uplifting people.

They smile when they mean it.
Even if you’re not feeling so chipper, cultivating a happy thought — and then smiling about it — could up your happiness levels and make you more productive, according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal. It’s important to be genuine with your grin: The study revealed that faking a smile while experiencing negative emotions could actually worsen your mood.

They cultivate resilience.
penny heads up
According to psychologist Peter Kramer, resilience, not happiness, is the opposite of depression: Happy people know how to bounce back from failure. Resilience is like a padding for the inevitable hardship human beings are bound to face. As the Japanese proverb goes, “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

They try to be happy.
Yep — it’s as simple as it sounds: just trying to be happy can boost your emotional well-being, according to two studies recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology. Those who actively tried to feel happier in the studies reported the highest level of positive moods, making a case for thinking yourself happy.

They are mindful of the good.
It’s important to celebrate great, hard-earned accomplishments, but happy people give attention to their smaller victories, too. “When we take time to notice the things that go right — it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day,” Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. told The Huffington Post in May. “That can help with our moods.” And, as Frank Ghinassi, Ph.D. explains, being mindful of the things that do go your way (even something as simple as the barista getting your coffee order right) can make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment throughout the day.

They appreciate simple pleasures.

A meticulously swirled ice cream cone. An boundlessly waggy dog. Happy people take the time to appreciate these easy-to-come-by pleasures. Finding meaning in the little things, and practicing gratitude for all that you do have is associated with a sense of overall gladness.

They devote some of their time to giving.
Even though there are only 24 hours in a day, positive people fill some of that time doing good for others, which in return, does some good for the do-gooders themselves. A long-term research project called Americans’ Changing Lives found a bevy of benefits associated with altruism: “Volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression,” reported Peggy Thoits, the leader of one of the studies.

Givers also experience what researchers call “the helper’s high,” a euphoric state experienced by those engaged in charitable acts. “This is probably a literal “high,” similar to a drug-induced high,” writes Christine L. Carter, Ph.D. “The act of making a financial donation triggers the reward center in our brains that is responsible for dopamine-mediated euphoria.”

They let themselves lose track of time. (And sometimes they can’t help it.)
doodling
When you’re immersed in an activity that is simultaneously challenging, invigorating and meaningful, you experience a joyful state called “flow.” Happy people seek this sensation of getting “caught up” or “carried away,” which diminishes self-consciousness and promotes the feelings associated with success. As explained by Pursuit-of-happiness.org, “In order for a Flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.”

They nix the small talk for deeper conversation.
Nothing wrong with shootin’ the you-know-what every now and then, but sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life. A study published in Psychological Science found that those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction.

“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,” is one of the top five regrets of the dying — a sentiment that hints at the fact that people wish they’d spent less time talking about the weather and more time delving into what it is that makes their heart swell.

They spend money on other people.
monty hall
Maybe money does buy happiness. A study published in Science found that spending money on other people has a more direct impact on happiness than spending money on oneself.

They make a point to listen.
“When you listen you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts,” writes David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism. “You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself thus radiating positive energy.” Good listening is a skill that strengthens relationships and leads to more satisfying experiences. A good listener may walk away from a conversation feeling as if their presence served a purpose, an experience that is closely connected with increased well-being.

They uphold in-person connections.
It’s quick and convenient to text, FaceTime and tweet at your buddies. But spending the money on a flight to see your favorite person across the country has weight when it comes to your well-being. “There’s a deep need to have a sense of belonging that comes with having personal interactions with friends,” says John Cacioppo, Ph.D., the director of the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Social media, while it keeps us in touch, doesn’t allow us to physically touch, which harvests the warm-and-fuzzies and even decreases feelings of anxiety.

They look on the bright side.

Optimism touts plenty of health benefits, including less stress, a better tolerance for pain and, as HuffPost Healthy Living recently reported, longevity among those with heart disease. When you choose to see the silver lining, you’re also choosing health and happiness.

Seligman summed up perhaps the greatest characteristic of the optimist in one of his most acclaimed books, Learned Optimism:

The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.

They value a good mixtape.
118350080
Music is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it could match up to the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy. Over a three month period, researchers from the Group Health Research Institute found that patients who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 hour-long massages. Choosing the right tunes could be an important factor, however, as a happy or sad song can also affect the way we perceive the world. In one experiment where researchers asked subjects to identify happy or sad faces while listening to music, the participants were more likely to see the faces that matched the “mood” of the music. Click here for a few of our favorite mood-boosting jams.

They unplug.
Whether by meditating, taking a few deep breaths away from the screen or deliberately disconnecting from electronics, unplugging from our hyper-connected world has proven advantages when it comes to happiness. Talking on your cell could increase your blood pressure and raise your stress levels, while uninterrupted screen time has been linked to depression and fatigue. Technology isn’t going away, but partaking in some kind of a digital detox gives your brain the opportunity to recharge and recover, which — bonus — could increase your resilience.

They get spiritual.
sun salutation
Studies point to a link between religious and spiritual practice and mirth. For one, happiness habits like expressing gratitude, compassion and charity are generally promoted in most spiritual conventions. And, asking the big questions helps to give our lives context and meaning. A 2009 study found that children who felt their lives had a purpose (which was promoted by a spiritual connection) were happier.

Spirituality offers what the 20th-century sociologist Emile Durkheim referred to as “sacred time,” which is a built-in, unplugging ritual that elicits moments of reflection and calm. As Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., writes in “The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Spiritual/Religious Practices,”:

The experience of sacred time provides a time apart from the “profane time” that we live most of our lives in. A daily period of meditation, a weekly practice of lighting Sabbath candles, or attending worship services, or an annual retreat in an isolated, quiet place of solitude all of these are examples of setting time apart from the rush of our everyday lives. Periods of rest and respite from work and the demands of daily life serve to reduce stress, a fundamental cause of chronic diseases that is still the primary causes of death in Western society. Transcendent spiritual and religious experiences have a positive, healing, restorative effect, especially if they are “built in,” so to speak, to one’s daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual cycles of living

They make exercise a priority.
A wise, albeit fictional Harvard Law School student once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercise has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, thanks to the the various brain chemicals that are released that amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation. Plus, working out makes us appreciate our bodies more. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that exercise improved how people felt about their bodies — even if they didn’t lose weight or achieve noticeable improvements.

They go outside.
Want to feel alive? Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality, according to several studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “Nature is fuel for the soul, ” says Richard Ryan, Ph.D, the lead author of the studies. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.” And while most of us like our coffee hot, we may prefer our serving of the great outdoors at a more lukewarm temperature: A study on weather and individual happiness unveiled 57 degrees to be the optimal temperature for optimal happiness.

They spend some time on the pillow.
177590254
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed isn’t just a myth. When you’re running low on zzs, you’re prone to experience lack of clarity, bad moods and poor judgment. “A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety,” Dr. Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center told Health.com. “You get more emotional stability with good sleep.”

They LOL.
You’ve heard it before: Laughter is the best medicine. In the case of The Blues, this may hold some truth. A good, old-fashioned chuckle releases happy brain chemicals that, other than providing the exuberant buzz we seek, make humans better equipped to tolerate both pain and stress.

And you might be able to get away with counting a joke-swapping session as a workout (maybe). “The body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise,” explained Dr. Lee Berk, the lead researcher of a 2010 study focused on laughter’s effects on the body. The same study found that some of the benefits associated with working out, like a healthy immune system, controlled appetite and improved cholesterol can also be achieved through laughter.

They walk the walk.

Ever notice your joyful friends have a certain spring in the step? It’s all about the stride, according to research conducted by Sara Snodgrass, a psychologist from Florida Atlantic University.

In the experiment, Snodgrass asked participants to take a three-minute walk. Half of the walkers were told to take long strides while swinging their arms and holding their heads high. These walkers reported feeling happier after the stroll than the other group, who took short, shuffled steps as they watched their feet.

Reposter’s Note

Truly Excellent Article. I would like to add –

Find something to participate in that you can be passionate about and do something with it.

Get up and get going – do something and finish it, the laundry, the dishes, finishing even a small task brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Start a to do list and check things off as you achieve them – more gets accomplished especially more of what you want.

Day Dream – make a point of it at least once a week – it helps us figure out what we think we want, then we can make a plan and work towards that.

Make a Bucket List – it can include things as simple as making a souffle or as grandiose as visiting Manchu Pichu. Do a bit of research and you will be surprised  what experiences, people and places come to pass in your experience.

Always remember AND THIS TOO SHALL PASS whatever the situation. So savoir the moment.

Find the bright side  – there is always one even though it may not become apparent for sometime.

Give  lot of Hugs – they do amazing things for both the giver and receiver.

Add music to your life that is melodious.

Day to day happiness is appreciating the moment – that first sip of an excellent coffee, the smile of a friend that first moment they see you, the smell of rain, the first bite a garden fresh strawberry, those first moments when you awake and the pillow feels so good. Make a habit of acknowledging those moments – being grateful brings more to be grateful for(more happiness)

Make a birthday list and tell those people on their special day – it will brighten the day for both of you.

Share your life with a pet. Yes they take commitment but studies show the rewards emotionally, mentally and physically are extremely beneficial and raise your happiness level significantly.

Take a really good liquid vitamin/mineral supplement every day. Nutrition plays a huge role in how we feel. It is difficult to get the best nutrition unless you take the time and make the effort.  We eat well but even that can still leave gaps. My personal preference after a lot of searching is Daily Complete. My husband likes the taste so much he says he could drink a cup every day. ( his ounce everyday is one of those moments he savors and looks forward too).

Here is the link http://deb.awarenesslife.com/index.cfm?action=details&detail=complete.

No one is perfect – our imperfections make us each unique and perfect in being ourselves.

Life is a myriad of experiences and emotions. Technology is wonderful but it often has us using our time in less participative ways. Life is a participation sport not something to be watched on a screen. Happiness is a by product of true participation and appreciation. Participate and appreciate – more happiness will follow you the rest of your days.