Good fortune: prosperity : a state of well-being and contentment: joy: a pleasurable or satisfying experience – Webster’s Dictionary (happiness defined)
Happiness is an often-used word. Research has shown that long-term happiness, feeling content with life, stems from feeling and being in-charge of as much of our life as possible. It’s not about having a constant smile on your face nor does it stem from money or health, but a self-belief you are on the right road.
Behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy, and what doesn’t. We know happiness can affect health and longevity, and happiness scales are used to measure social progress and the success of public policies. But being happy isn’t something that just happens to most people. Most of us work at it. And we all have the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life. Happiness comes from within. Here are 8 ways to get there:
1. Conquer Negative Thoughts
One of the best things to do to become happy is to conquer negative thoughts. We all can be a little negative. We focus on bad experiences more than good ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation – over-learning from dangerous or hurtful situations we met in our lives helps us to avoid them in the future and react quickly to a crisis.
This just means that you must work a little harder to conquer negative thoughts. How do we do this?
Don’t try to stop negative thoughts! Telling yourself not to think about something only makes you think about it more. Acknowledge the negative thoughts and dispel them. Tell yourself, I am worried about money or I am obsessed with something at work. Then treat yourself like a friend. Think of what your friend would tell you if you were talking to them about your negativity and apply that to yourself. (Take your own advice.)
Challenge your negative thoughts. When you are saying to yourself, “I am a failure.” Stop and acknowledge that you may have failed at this one thing, but point out to yourself all the good things. I have gone far in my career. I have a great relationship. I have great kids. I am a kind person, etc.
Avoid negative people! We all know at least one person that can never say anything positive. They are unhappy and unwilling to even try to change that. Avoid them! Negativity is contagious, just as positivity is. When you surround yourself with positive people you can’t help to start to think positively. When you have a negative thought, recognize it, challenge that feeling and take a big step toward a happier life.
Optimism is part genetic, partly learned. Even if you were born into a family of “gloomy Guses,” you can still find your inner ray of sunshine. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the reality of a situation. An optimist acknowledges the situation and looks for what good can come out of it.
Science is beginning to give evidence that the benefits of the ancient practice of controlled breathing are real. Studies have found, such as, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. For centuries yogis have used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha advocated breath-meditation to reach enlightenment. Try it!
3. Get up and move!
When people get up and move, even a little, they are happier than when they are still. It doesn’t have to be rigorous activity. Even just gentle walking can help get you into a better mood. We all know that more activity goes together with better health and greater happiness.
4. Spend time outdoors!
Numerous studies support the notion that spending time in nature is good for you. We know that walking on a quiet, tree-lined path can result in meaningful improvements to mental health, and even physical changes to the brain. Nature walkers have “quieter” brains: scans show less blood flow to the part of the brain associated with rumination. Some research shows that even looking at pictures of nature can improve your mood.
5. Find the sun!
I know that isn’t the easiest thing to do in this part of the country, especially in winter. But sunlight can make a difference. Seasonal affective disorder is real. Epidemiological studies estimate that its prevalence in the adult population ranges from 1.4 percent (in Florida) to 9.7 (in New Hampshire). Natural light exposure – by spending time outside or living in a space with natural light – is good for your mood. Even for people who do not have true seasonal affective disorder, sunlight makes us feel better. So, get outside, or at least open your drapes and let the light in.
6. The 1-minute rule!
One of my favorite bits of happiness advice comes from Ms. Rubin, author of “Happiness at Home” and many other useful guides and articles on happiness and good habits. She proffers a one-minute rule that is incredibly useful. Here it is:
Do any task that can be finished in one minute. This simple advice helps you decide what to tackle in a messy room. Do the one-minute tasks first. Here is her list:
Hang up a coat. Read a letter and toss it. Fill in a form. Answer an email. Jot down a citation. Pick up phone messages. File a paper. Put a dish in the dishwasher. Put away the magazines.
If you do nothing else, add the one-minute rule into your life. It will give you a short boost of happiness after you carry out so much in a short time – and as a bonus, you will end up with a cleaner room, which will also make you happy.
7. Choose to be happy!
Remember happiness is a choice. You must choose happiness every day. When you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, tell yourself that today you will be happy.
Don’t worry, be happy!
January 17, 2018
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. David Hardy, Chiropractic Physicians