Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘happy’

Want to Know What Really Makes You Happy? Try Tracking It!

Throughout our careers and lives, the big decisions we have to make usually lead back to a single, overriding concern: What really makes me happy? Too often we try to answer these questions without knowing or understanding the real data from our lives. Our self-analysis devolves into speculation or wishful thinking.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been collaborating with Harvard Business Review to develop a quick self-test to determine individual readiness for understanding your own data through the world of auto-analytics. Auto-analytics is a method of using new self-tracking tools to help answer key professional (and personal) questions: How do I boost my productivity? Am I in the right career? How can I improve my work routines by altering my health habits, like sleep and exercise?

To get a sense of how auto-analytics can be used enrich our decision making, I recommend three distinct approaches:

1. Quantifying reflection is the practice of spending a few moments each evening to rate (or rank) that day on a numerical scale, and also to provide qualitative information on daily activities. This method not only begins to habituate reflection but also creates a repository of personal data to inform decisions on which sorts of behaviors to embrace or avoid.

Author Ashish Mukharji’s use of this method shows that we don’t have to be a professional philosophers or positive psychologists to think systematically about happiness. For the past three years he’s been rating his days on a scale of 1-10, also jotting down some associated thoughts, “a restaurant, movie … whatever made that day special.”

Through this exercise he has learned that his average happiness is a seven and he has uncovered some unexpected sources of happiness. For example, in the experience of accomplishment, “actually getting to a goal” is less apt to make him happy than the process of working toward that goal.

With his personal data in hand, he now resolves his existential puzzles with small, practical interventions — idiosyncratic methods to lift his daily happiness. For instance, no matter how much fun he might be having at night, he retires early to avoid  missing sleep, since feeling tired invariably makes him unhappy, according to the data.

2. Theory testing uses auto-analytics tools as a way to quantify happiness in terms of an established model. Take the well-known study on happiness by academic Carol Ryff, which includes a theory of psychological well-being. Ryff posited that well-being could be measured on a model with six factors: self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose, mastery, autonomy, and positive relations with others. Researcher and statistician Konstanin Augemberg decided to test Ryff’s theory in this short case study. Using the programmable rTracker app on his mobile phone, Augemberg sampled himself three times a day on sliding scale with a simple question: How happy do you feel right now? He also rated himself at that moment on the six factors in Ryff’s model.

After a month, he ran the analysis of his data. “Out of 6 [variables] only 4 turned out to be predictive of happiness; the most influential of those were mastery and autonomy — being in control of the situation and being independent,” he found.

A good model like Ryff’s may have broad appeal, but as Augemberg’s experiment demonstrates, all of its six factors may not be relevant to each  individual — an overly complicated model may be likened to a  universal remote control with superfluous buttons.  Through this experiment, Augemberg was able to remove the extra two components, allowing him to better focus on those factors that, according to his data, directly influenced his happiness. He observes, “n=me, so the model may work differently for others.”

3. Experience sampling gently nudges users at random intervals throughout the day to log how they’re feeling. Over time, the method creates a detailed happiness dashboard so participants can make fact-based decisions or change their habits based on their numbers.

Auto-analytics tools in this area, like trackyourhappiness, represent a new type of research approach, one that advances both scientific learning and individual progress toward happiness.

An interesting dimension of trackyourhappiness is its measurement of mind-wandering. The tool helps people work out tough questions like this one: As I’m performing a task I consider unpleasant, say collating monthly business travel expenses, is it better to focus on the task at hand or to imagine something more pleasant while mindlessly grinding through it?

To resolve this type of conundrum, users are asked three questions at various points throughout the day: (1) How do you feel now? which they answer on a sliding scale from “very bad” to “very good”; (2) What are you doing?; and (3) Are you thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing?, to which they can answer “no,” “yes — something unpleasant,” “yes — something neutral” or “yes — something pleasant.”

After using the tool for a while, most begin to discover through data that they are much more happy when they are focused on the present than when not. As lead researcher Matt Killingsworth’s analysis of more than 15,000 users shows, people are measurably less happy when they are mind-wandering, no matter what they are doing. “For example, people don’t really like commuting to work very much, it’s one of their least enjoyable activities. And yet they are substantially happier when they are only focused on their commute than when their mind is going off to something else,” he says in his research presentation.

A possible cause for the negative effects of mind-wandering may be that our minds most often wander to worrisome topics like job stability or declining sales this month. Yet on the flip side, the data also show that even when we are imagining something neutral or pleasant, we are slightly less happy  when our mind is diverted from its main task than we are when it is attentive.

Killingsworth sums up: “If mind-wandering were a slot machine it would be like having a chance to lose $50, $20, or $1. You’d never want to play.”

Each of the three approaches is really about adding a dose of science, gathering, and acting on data to inform personal change. Whether you’re interested in addressing your happiness, your work productivity, or something else important, you can begin this data-gathering process by taking this short assessment.

By H. James Wilson

H. James Wilson

H. James Wilson is senior researcher at Babson Executive Education. He is co-author of The New Entrepreneurial Leader: Developing Leaders Who Shape Social and Economic Opportunity (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011).

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

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How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment!

Are you tired of waiting around for happiness to find you? Stop waiting and start getting happy with these tips.

Do you know how to be happy? Or are you waiting for happiness to find you?

Despite what the fairy tales depict, happiness doesn’t appear by magic. It’s not even something that happens to you. It’s something you can cultivate.

So, what are you waiting for? Start discovering how to be happy.

How to be happy: What science tells us

Only 10 percent or so of the variation in people’s reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and — more importantly — thoughts and behaviors that can be changed.

So, yes, you can learn how to be happy — or at least happier.

Although you may have thought, as many people do, that happiness comes from being born rich or beautiful or living a stress-free life, the reality is that people who have wealth, beauty or less stress are not happier on average than those of who don’t enjoy those blessings.

People who are happy seem to intuitively know that their happiness is the sum of their life choices, and their lives are built on the following pillars:

  • Devoting time to family and friends
  • Appreciating what they have
  • Maintaining an optimistic outlook
  • Feeling a sense of purpose
  • Living in the moment

How to be happy: Practice, practice, practice

If you have been looking for happiness, the good news is that your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch, but you can turn up your happiness level. Here’s how to get started on the path to creating a happier you.

Invest in relationships

Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

Friends and family help you celebrate life’s successes and support you in difficult times. Although it’s easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships need nurturing.

Build up your emotional account with kind words and actions. Be careful and gracious with critique. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you’re glad they’re part of your life.

Express gratitude

Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. It’s easy to go through life without recognizing your good fortune. Often, it takes a serious illness or other tragic event to jolt people into appreciating the good things in their lives. Don’t wait for something like that to happen to you.

Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. For example, replace “my sister forgot my birthday” with “my sister has always been there for me in tough times.”

Let gratitude be the last thought before you go to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning.

Cultivate optimism

Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. You needn’t become a Pollyanna — after all, bad things do happen. It would be silly to pretend otherwise. But you don’t have to let the negatives color your whole outlook on life. Remember that what is right about you almost always trumps what is wrong.

If you’re not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them. Then take a step back and ask yourself these key questions:

  • Is the situation really as bad as I think?
  • Is there another way to look at the situation?
  • What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future?

Find your purpose

People who strive to meet a goal or fulfill a mission — whether it’s growing a garden, caring for children or finding one’s spirituality — are happier than those who don’t have such aspirations.

Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn’t matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you.

Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life. Research studies suggest that relationships provide the strongest meaning and purpose to your life. So cultivate meaningful relationships.

Are you engaged in something you love? If not, ask yourself these questions to discover how you can find your purpose:

  • What excites and energizes me?
  • What are my proudest achievements?
  • How do I want others to remember me?

Live in the moment

Don’t postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come.

Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

By Mayo Clinic staff

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

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22 Things Happy People Do Differently

Many people spend their lives waiting to be happy.  You may think, “if only I had more money,” or “could lose weight,” or you fill in the blank, then I would be happy.

Well here’s a secret: you can be happy right now. It’s not always easy, but you can choose to be happy, and in the vast majority of circumstances there’s no one who can stop you except for yourself.

The truth is, happiness doesn’t come from wealth, perfect looks or even a perfect relationship. Happiness comes from within. This is why, if you truly want to be happy, you need to work on yourself, first.

        22 Positive Habits of Happy People

What’s the secret to being happy? You can learn how to do it, just as you can learn any other skill. Those who are happy tend to follow a certain set of habits that create peace in their lives; if you learn to apply these habits in your own life, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy too.

The featured article compiled 22 such behaviors that you can use to enhance your life and your happiness:1

1. Let go of grudges

Forgiving and forgetting is necessary for your own happiness, as holding a grudge means you’re also holding onto resentment, anger, hurt and other negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. Letting go of a grudge frees you from negativity and allows more space for positive emotions to fill in.

2. Treat everyone with kindness

Kindness is not only contagious, it’s also proven to make you happier. When you’re kind to others, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and you’re able to build strong relationships with others, fostering positive feelings all around.

3. Regard your problems as challenges

Change your internal dialogue so that anytime you have a “problem” you view it as a challenge or a new opportunity to change your life for the better. Eliminate the word “problem” from your mind entirely.

4. Express gratitude for what you have

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.

5. Dream big

Go ahead and dream big, as you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals. Rather than limiting yourself, when you dream big you’re opening your mind to a more optimistic, positive state where you have the power to achieve virtually anything you desire.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

If the issue you’re mad about will be irrelevant a year, a month, a week or even a day from now, why sweat it? Happy people know how to let life’s daily irritations roll off their back.

7. Speak well of others

It may be tempting to gather around the office water cooler to get and give the daily gossip, but talking negatively about others is like taking a bath in negative emotions; your body soaks them up. Instead, make it a point to only say positive, nice words about other people, and you’ll help foster more positive thinking in your own life as well.

8. Avoid making excuses

It’s easy to blame others for your life’s failures, but doing so means you’re unlikely to rise past them. Happy people take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps, then use the failure as an opportunity to change for the better.

9. Live in the present

Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever it is you’re doing right now, and take time to really be in the present moment. Avoid replaying past negative events in your head or worrying about the future; just savor what’s going on in your life now.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning

Getting up at the same time every day (preferably an early time) is deceptively simple. Doing so will help regulate your circadian rhythm so you’ll have an easier time waking and likely feel more energized. Plus, the habit of rising early every day is one shared by many successful people, as it enhances your productivity and focus.

11. Don’t compare yourself to others

Your life is unique, so don’t measure your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you. Even regarding yourself as better than your peers is detrimental to your happiness, as you’re fostering judgmental feelings and an unhealthy sense of superiority. Measure your own success based on your progress alone, not that of others.

12. Surround yourself with positive people

The saying “misery loves company” is entirely true. That’s why you need to choose friends who are optimistic and happy themselves, as you will be surrounded with positive energy.

13. Realize that you don’t need others’ approval

It’s important to follow your own dreams and desires without letting naysayers stand in your way. It’s fine to seek others’ opinions, but happy people stay true to their own hearts and don’t get bogged down with the need for outside approval.

14. Take time to listen

Listening helps you soak in the wisdom of others and allows you to quiet your own mind at the same time. Intense listening can help you feel content while helping you gain different perspectives.

15. Nurture social relationships

Positive social relationships are a key to happiness, so be sure you make time to visit with friends, family and your significant other.

16. Meditate

Meditation helps you keep your mind focused, calms your nerves and supports inner peace. Research shows it can even lead to physical changes in your brain that make you happier.

17. Eat well

What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease. My free nutrition plan is an excellent tool to help you choose the best foods for both physical and emotional wellness.

18. Exercise

Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.

19. Live minimally

Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos. Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt, so give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind.

20. Be honest

Every time you lie, your stress levels are likely to increase and your self-esteem will crumble just a little bit more. Plus, if others find out you’re a liar it will damage your personal and professional relationships. Telling the truth, on the other hand, boosts your mental health and allows others to build trust in you.

21. Establish personal control

Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, establish personal control in your life that allows you to fulfill your own goals and dreams, as well as a great sense of personal self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed

Everything in your life is not going to be perfect, and that’s perfectly all right. Happy people learn to accept injustices and setbacks in their life that they cannot change, and instead put their energy on changing what they can control for the better.

A Healthy Lifestyle Naturally Enhances Happiness

You may have noticed that some of the habits of happy people are one in the same with those that are essential for leading a healthy lifestyle – exercising and eating right, for example. Once you adopt a happiness mindset, and even before you do, embracing healthy habits will help keep your mood elevated naturally even in the midst of stress. Happy people tend to be healthy people, and vice versa, so in addition to healthy food and exercise, the following lifestyle strategies can also help to support emotional wellness:

  • Proper sleep: Sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression, while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems.2
  • Animal-based omega-3 fats: Low concentrations of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are known to increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to non-depressed individuals. Krill oil is my preferred source of omega-3 fats.
  • Regular sun exposure: This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. But even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): If difficult life circumstances and the negative emotions they create are making happiness hard to come by, try EFT, which is a form of do-it-yourself psychological acupressure. This simple technique can help clear your body and mind of negative emotions so you can implement positive goals and habits more easily in your life.

By Dr. Mercola

www.mercola.com

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life?   Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!  I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

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8 Tips for Creating a Life with More Joy and Less Stress

3 Generations of Family #caregiving
Get your new year started on the right foot. We’ve compiled a list of new years resolutions you can use to cultivate a life with more relaxation, happiness, purpose and love. Happy new year!

Most of us who haven’t retired yet live busy, stressed-out lives. After all, we’ve got a lot to do: A job to work, children to raise, parents to check on, errands to run. What’s not to be stressed about, right?

The fact is that our responsibilities and obligations aren’t likely to fade anytime soon, but our stress can. It comes down to attitude. The mindset with which we approach the world around us (and the world within us) is the number one factor determining our happiness.

Here are eight time tested guidelines for a life with less stress and more joy:

1. Clarify Your Top Priorities and Control What You Can

Take time to plan and prioritize. The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do.  Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

Remember also that some things are beyond your control. Has a parent with dementia said something unkind? Remind yourself that while you can’t prevent these remarks, you can control how you react to them.

Laughing man #laughter

2. Laugh Often

Laughter is a healthy way of relieving tension. It decreases levels of stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) while increasing the primary neurotransmitter for contentment, endorphin, our body’s own natural pain reliever. It also brings people together, which is always beneficial. Did your elderly mother try to make coffee with cat litter? Allow yourself to laugh it off instead of getting flustered.

You can also work actively to add laughter to your life. Place a higher priority on spending time with loved ones who make you laugh. Get a daily dose of your favorite sitcom on Netflix-streaming or Hulu if it’s not on TV. Or try Laughter Yoga. Its practitioners note that science has found the body is unable to differentiate between natural laughter and forced laughter. For this reason they actually suggest that people make themselves laugh and have group laughter sessions, advising students to “fake it till you make it.”

3. Have Empathy for Yourself

Those stressed out from working, parenting, or caregiving should try not to be too hard on themselves. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and don’t blame yourself difficulties or bad outcomes. During the hardest times work to soothe and reassure yourself. Try repeating a favorite prayer or self-affirming mantra, reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can under difficult circumstances.

4. Socialize

Swimming #Seniors

While a few hermits may claim that the solitary life is ideal, the psychological and medical communities agree that it’s important to spend quality time with friends and family. A groundbreaking survey by Gallup in 2008 found that social time is crucial to happiness and well-being. Gallup contacted 140,000 individuals and asked them how happy they had been on the day prior. Respondents were also asked about how many hours they spent socializing the day before (among numerous other questions). Unsurprisingly, there was a direct correlation between social time and reported happiness.

Organize regular monthly get-togethers with friends in a social setting that you can look forward to, such as a dinner club,  a Bunko or Mah Jong game, or  a movie or book club. Also take advantage of opportunities to make socializing therapeutic. If you become overly stressed from caring for an aging parent, join a support group (many can be found through the Alzheimer’s Association). Even online socializing at sites such as our Eldercare Community Forum can be beneficial.

5. Practice Self Care

Body and mind are interconnected, so our bodies will be best poised to cope with stress when we are well nourished and in reasonable shape. Exercise, of course, is key. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.” Try incorporating extra activity into you daily routine. Take the stairs instead of using the elevator. Park further away than you need to next time you go to the supermarket.

Nutrition is also crucial. By now most of us understand what constitutes a healthy diet, but how we consume our food may be just as important as what we eat. Take the time to savor your food. Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something down quickly to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat or drink something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese, an imported chocolate, or a glass of nice wine.

Smiling Man #seniors

6. Look on the Bright Side of Life

Optimism, or positive thinking, has been linked by researchers to increased health and happiness. While there’s some evidence that our level optimism is genetic (or heritable), that doesn’t mean we that we don’t have any choice in the matter or that we shouldn’t make optimism a goal. That would be, well, pessimistic.

A recent study reported about in Medical Daily found that optimism is actually important than one’s physical health in determining wellbeing.

7. Get Enough Sleep and Rest

Sleep is restorative and is one of our body’s ways to mitigate stress. Research by Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, found that the happiness to be gained by getting an extra hour of sleep each night is equivalent to getting a $60,000 raise. How do we get more sleep? A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Sleep Medicine Institute found that learning some simple but surprising guidelines can help improve sleep duration and quality significantly:

  • Spend less time in bed. Don’t spend leisure time in bed, in the morning or in the evening. If you want to cozy up with a good book, go for the couch rather than your bed.
  • Get up at the same time every day. Your sleep will improve if you can muster the self-discipline to get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or when you haven’t slept well.
  • Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy. Even if it is past your normal bedtime, it is better to stay up and be active than to lie awake in bed.
  • Get out of bed if you’re not sleeping. If you’re having trouble sleeping, get up and read or watch a little TV rather than remaining in bed awake.

Mother and Daughter #caregiving

8. Be Here Now

Another way of putting this is, “Live in the moment.” If we live our lives always waiting for some hoped for point in the future (for example our next vacation) we discard the here and now, which is all we really have.  American author Henry James wrote, “Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”

By Jeff Anderson

www.aplaceformom.com

Image of laughing man courtesy Flickr user Chris Waits, used via Creative Common License

12 THINGS HAPPY PEOPLE DO DIFFERENTLY

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)
1.        Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
2.        Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
3.       Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.       Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.       Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.       Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.       Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.    Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
11.     Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.    Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.
Have a happy day!
 by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy.
Photo by Francois Halard.

5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

5 Smells That Make You Kinder, Happier, Nicer

Cinnabon knows what it’s doing. The smell of baking bread can make us kinder,  says a study from Journal of Social Psychology by scientists from the  University of Southern Brittany in France.

Wanting to test the notion that smells can influence behavior, the scientists  had eight young men and women stand outside either a bakery or a clothing store,  says the Independent. The participants were instructed to pretend to  be searching for something in their bags and then drop an object (a glove, a  handkerchief) while walking in front of a stranger.

People stopped to pick up the object about 77 percent of the time in front of  the bakery, versus 52 percent of the time outside the clothing store, according  to the researchers who observed the proceedings from some 60 feet away.

Eight participants is a small number but the scientists did repeat the  experiment some 400 times, notes the Daily Mail. From their observations, they state that

“Our results show that, in general, spontaneous  help is offered more in areas where pleasant ambient smells are spread.”

“This experiment confirms the role of ambient  food odours on altruism.”

One wonders at possible practical applications of this study. Could the  answer to us all getting along, dealing with anger management, turning the other  cheek for each other and so forth — to nothing other than world peace! — be to  waft the scent of bread baking around?

While contemplating such, here are four more smells that have been found to  lift up our spirits.

Peppermint

Pepper-mint

Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University found that the smell of peppermint boosted both mood and motivation in  competitive athletes by making them run faster, do more push-ups and squeeze  a hand grip harder.

Spice Apple

Best Apples for Baking

The smell of American spice apple has been found to help reduce blood pressure. Perhaps that’s why a cup of  warm apple cider seems so inviting, not to mention the smell of an apple pie  baking?

Lavender

Lavender hill mob

No wonder some refer to this smell as nature’s own “chill-out oil.” Lavender scent has been found to help reduce stress and relieve pain (possibly).

Coffee

Coffee Beans

Or more precisely, roasted coffee beans: a South Korean study found that this aroma reduces stress in  rats. Scientists found that lab rats (who certainly have reason to be stressed)  had lower stress levels after smelling roasted coffee beans.

As a serious coffee drinker, I would agree with this. But one has to wonder  if not all smells are created equal for all people. My husband does not drink  any coffee and is no big fan of the smell — but then, in some twenty years of  daily contact with coffee’s aroma, he has never once complained.

by

Photos: bread: Thinkstock; peppermint: Sir_Iwan; apples: Veganbaking.net; lavender: Billy Reed: coffee beans: Peg Waggener.

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