Come On, Get HAPPY!

I was forwarded this and asked about my thoughts on 10 things that Science says will make you happy. My response is in brackets. Would love to hear your thoughts!

1.Savor Everyday Moments
Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.(I agree. Children playing is one of the most illuminating things EVER!)

2.Avoid Comparisons
While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.(I agree. I whole-heartedly rebel against the ‘norm’…uh, whatever that is)

3.Put Money Low on the List
People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization. (I agree. Many will argue that lack of money causes anxiety, but I believe it’s ‘how’ we deal with it that causes the anxiety.)

4.Have Meaningful Goals
“People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.” (I agree so long as the word ‘meaningful’ stays in front of goals)

5.Take Initiative at Work
How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.(I agree. This attitude got me through some crap jobs that I had to have while working my way up and past them)

6.Make Friends, Treasure Family
Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring. (Agree/Disagree; I have ditched all my shallow acquaintances, I treasure family, but I think while friends and family can add to our life, they don’t ‘make’ us happy or fulfilled. I would definitely agree with having supportive people, though. I’d be happier perfectly alone than with people who rail me at every opportunity.)

7.Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit. (Agree/Disagree; Assuming the smile is metaphorical for just seeing things positively, I’d agree. But I sometimes find contentment in the dark moments of life too. I do agree that a good outlook can be habitual, but I would hope that it could have meaning too)

8.Say Thank You Like You Mean It
People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.(I agree. When I take the time to thank someone, it doesn’t just fill an obligation or duty, but brings a good energy between me and another person. I should do this more though)

9.Get Out and Exercise
A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem. (I AGREE!!!! The body NEEDS a happy chemical in the brain called serotonin. Exercise can raise those levels. This isn’t opinion, this is just plain SCIENCE!)

10.Give It Away, Give It Away Now!
Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves. (I agree. These are character builders. What can make a person happier than a growing their character?)
I’m overall trying to find contentment and peace even if my situation is horrible and there is nobody anywhere near me. Taking on the “learning to live in the eye of the storm” mentality seems to work better for me than counting on all the other things. What if I lived in a jungle, desert or away from civilization? Could I be happy then? I would hope that it never comes to it, but I guess I am saying that attitude would probably serve well in this society.

One of the things I felt that was left out was spending time alone and giving yourself permission for 10 minutes, an hour, a day or a week (whatever is feasible) to be alleviated from our problems. I believe we are a culture of “doers” when we should be allowed to daydream!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Karen :)

“I think what every child needs and ought to have every day is two hours of daydreaming…plain old daydreaming.” ~George Carlin

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