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What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v11 »
Tuesday
Aug162016

3 Useful Ideas to Help Increase Your Happiness

We could all use a bit more happiness in our lives, couldn’t we? While traveling recently, I noticed someone reading a Time magazine special edition, The Science of Happiness. The cover was splashed with happy-looking emojis. I finally got my hands on a copy and read it, with yellow highlighter in hand, from cover to cover. I’m generally a happy, positive person most of the time. Even so, I loved the idea of learning about the science behind happiness and the possibility of finding ways to experience even more joy.

Some researchers think that genetics are behind 50% of the variations in happiness and 10% are due to life circumstances. This is great news because it means the remaining 40% presents opportunity for you to increase your happiness. We can break that down to small, manageable parts. As author Margaret Wander Bonanno said,

“It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.”

 

 

3 Ways to Help Increase Your Happiness . . .


Mindfulness

Being present, refusing to multitask, and bringing your full attention to what’s happening right now is one way to increase happiness. This can be challenging to do with so many sounds, people and thoughts vying for your attention. It requires practice, like exercising a muscle, to be mindful. One suggestion made by Emma Seppala, Ph.D. author of The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success is to take technology breaks. She suggests,

“One of the greatest ways to find joy is to spend a half-day or whole day on a technology fast. That means no screen time. None.”

 

Generosity

Doing good in the world can translate into donating money to causes and organizations we believe in. According to Michael Norton, co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, bringing this idea closer to home can boost your happiness even more. He says,

“While giving to charity brings more happiness than spending money on yourself, our research finds that doing things for people you know makes you happiest.”

 

Gratitude

Have you noticed that you’ve become more grateful as you’ve aged? One study discovered that for each 10 years of life, gratitude increases by 5%. In addition, according to writer Ellen Seidman, research suggests that people who are regularly grateful, those that are actively aware of the “goodness in life and the sources of it – are generally healthier and happier.” To experience the full benefits of gratitude, you need to both feel the love, like recording your appreciation in a gratitude journal and show the love as in writing a letter (the more specific the better) to express gratitude to your friends and loved ones. Robert Emmons, Ph.D., psychology professor and author of Gratitude Works! says,

“When people are grateful, they feel more alert and alive.”


Do any of these increasing happiness concepts resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (10)

I quickly scanned your post for what I think is the #1 key to happiness, and there it was: Gratitude. :-)

August 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- Lovely! Grateful for you, my friend.

August 16, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

All of these are great tips. I was just talking with someone who is going through a break-up, and that just isn't a happy experience. At the same time, focusing on the sadness doesn't really help. I was suggesting she try and distract her brain while the healing takes place... a wound doesn't need to be "stared at" to heal. It should be addressed and cared for, but the ability to think about something else might make the healing feel faster. Things like exercise, music, or a piece of chocolate can help boost our brains "happy" chemicals, granting a fresh perspective and a reason to be optimistic.

August 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I have found separating myself from the bad stories in the news on days when i am feeling low, is good for me. We get so inundated with the worst of what is happening in the world that you can take on too much sadness. I think responding to people you CAN help in your immediate area leads to a feeling of happiness, if that makes sense. Taking in joy, refreshes your resolve to deal with life's sad moments.

August 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Seana- Your friend is so lucky to have your support and care. What a wonderful perspective to share about healing through positivity...letting "our brains 'happy' chemicals" boost our outlook.

@Jill- Such an important point...to be specific and intentional about the "news" we allow in and how that can influence positively or negatively our state of mind and happiness levels. I love the phrase you offered too..."taking in joy..." That's part of the mindfulness piece. There's joy all around IF we allow ourselves the time to notice and savor.

August 16, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Gratitude is always my foundation for happiness. I am so glad to see it as one of the top 3 tips for you too!

August 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- What a wonderful personal "happiness" foundation you have! Grateful for you, my friend.

August 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I am working on my mindfulness and finding that it does indeed increase happiness. Putting down the technology has allowed me to focus on what is here and now. By not being distracted I have been able to interact with those around me. I've made new friends and learned so much about the world around me. Now to work on gratitude and generosity.

August 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

These are beneficial suggestions and all of which I practice each day. Sometimes they are not quite enough. Life circumstances, hormones (this one is a biggie), etc. can throw monkey wrenches at us, and trying to find non-pharmeceutical magic potions to jettison those wrenches is part of my on-going quest. Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to reading the Happiness Track. It sounds like a great resource.

August 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSherri Curley

@Jamie- What a powerful phrase..."putting down the technology." I totally get that. It's odd how not that long ago this was a none issue for us, but technology has become so commonplace that it often can feel like it's taking over rather than enhancing our lives. I'm glad that you're finding a mix that feels right for you. I know it's something I struggle with too.

@Sherri- You're so right that these are just SOME suggestions but by no way a complete list of happiness strategies. Bravo to you for practicing each of these daily and for figuring options when needed. And yes to the fact that life isn't black and white...life circumstances, hormones, brain differences, and many other issues can add additional challenges to our happiness levels. And obviously, we can't be happy at every given moment. That's not realistic and not even preferred. We need a full range of emotions and experiences to be able to appreciate what "happy" actually feels like.

August 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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