Showing posts with label Happy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Happy. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2016

Six Ways to be Happy

A recent study found: "When participants physically discarded a representation of their thoughts, they mentally discarded them as well, using them less in forming judgments than did participants who retained a representation of their thoughts." If you have pervasive negative thoughts, write them down on a piece of paper, and physically throw them away, or burn them. This strategy can be employed as a quick way to clear your head of negativity.

Another just-released study found that the human imagination is powerful to a scary and exciting degree. "This is the first set of experiments to definitively establish that the sensory signals generated by one's imagination are strong enough to change one's real-world perception of a different sensory modality." Exercising your imagination will generate creative ideas, motivate you, and make you happier if you use it well. Happiness is a perspective, and using your imagination is an effective way to alter your perspective in a positive way.

Experiences have been shown to make us happier than material possessions. A study from Cornell says, "Consumers spend more time thinking about material purchases they didn't choose than they spend when they buy an experience." When it comes to spending money, experiences are almost always a better value than possessions. Material possessions tend to make us happy initially but quickly wane, but the happiness gained from experiences can last a lifetime. If you want to be happier in the long term, consider taking a trip instead of buying a new TV.

A few studies show that you can be much happier by giving, such as volunteer, pay for the person behind you at the tool booth, cook a surprise meal for someone, or give someone an unexpected gift. We are incredibly powerful in our ability to make someone else's day with very little effort on our part. One study found that toddlers before the age of two years old "exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves." Another study by a Harvard scholar found that happiness can be bought, so long as you are spending the money on someone else. Giving brings real happiness results. If you truly want to maximize your happiness, then find ways to give to others.

Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, is sometimes called the happiest man in the world. "There is a possibility for change because all emotions are fleeting. That is the ground for mind training. Mind training is on the idea that two opposite mental factors can't happen at the same time. You cannot in the same gesture shake a hand and strike a blow. There are natural antidotes to emotions that are destructive to our well-being."

Ricard says that mind transformation is achieved through meditation on unconditional compassion and loving kindness. "Some of [the monks] who came to the labs did 20-40 thousand hours of meditation. When the monks were tested for happiness using tests that measure brain activity for happiness, it was found that the monks were four standard deviations from the norm in favor of happiness; in other words, they were off-the-charts happy. If you want to multiply your happiness results, meditate on compassion and loving kindness. The monks' theory on opposite mental factors holds true. They spend so much time thinking of positive things, that negativity and angst are pushed out of their mind, and they become very happy.

Perhaps the most surprising and 21st century relevant happiness factor is focus. A study found that people's minds wandered 47% of the time on average and it had a more negative impact on their happiness than what they were doing. There is a direct connection between focus and happiness. Focusing your skills and energy on fewer areas is a simple formula that brings big results. The more you focus on what matters, the more your life becomes as you desire, and the happier you will be. True happiness is not being a slave to a piece of technology. It is deciding what is most important in this moment and focusing all of your energy on it. So, if you want to be happy, toss out negativity, think good things, do good things, give to others, imagine being happy, and focus on being happy.

Oct 30, 2015

Helpful Happiness Hack

At the end of the day just before you go to bed, write down something good that happened to you, or something that made you happy, or made you smile that day. Put the note where you will find it in the morning as you are getting ready. It also helps if you look in the mirror and smile when you read the note in the morning.

Do this for seven days and you will be at least 20% happier - and it will last for another week, even if you stop doing it.

If you want to stay happy, date the notes and save them. You will be amazed when you go back and look at them, the smallest things keep you happiest the longest.

Aug 8, 2014

Lonliness vs. Being Alone

Being lonely increases the risk of everything from heart attacks to dementia, depression and death. People who are satisfied with their social lives sleep better, age more slowly, and respond better to vaccines. Those who have rich social lives and warm relationships do not get as sick and they live longer. A person can be lonely in a crowd or be alone and not be lonely.

Research shows, our bodies have evolved so that in situations of perceived social isolation, they trigger branches of the immune system involved in wound healing and bacterial infection. Differences relate most strongly to how lonely people think they are. Ending loneliness is not about spending more time with people, but about our attitude to others. Changing this attitude reduces loneliness more effectively than giving people more opportunities for interaction.

Meditation is typically done while a person is alone and there is evidence that meditation boosts the immune response in vaccine recipients and people with cancer, protects against a relapse in major depression, soothes skin conditions, and even slows the progression of HIV. As with social interaction, meditation works largely by influencing stress response pathways. People who meditate have lower cortisol levels.

In a study of fifty people with advanced lung cancer, those judged by their doctors to have high “spiritual faith” responded better to chemotherapy and survived longer. More than forty percent were still alive after three years, compared with less than ten percent of those judged to have little faith.

Some think that what matters is having a sense of purpose in life. Having an idea of why you are here and what is important increases your sense of control over events. Spending more time doing what you love, whether it is gardening or volunteer work has a similar effect on health. Bottom line, loneliness is more of an attitude than a state of physical being. You have the power to be happy, alone or with others.

Jun 13, 2014

Smile, Be Happy

In one set of studies, depressed participants were invited to take a few minutes once a day to relish something that they usually hurry through, such as eating a meal or taking a shower. When it was over, they were instructed to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently as well as how that felt compared with the times when they rushed through it.

In another study, healthy students and community members were instructed to savor two pleasurable experiences per day, by reflecting on each for two or three minutes and trying to make the pleasure last as long and as intensely as possible. In all these studies those participants prompted to practice savoring, regularly showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.

Researchers told people to smile and the subjects actually felt happier. More than 26,000 people were randomly assigned to groups and asked to carry out various exercises designed to make them happier. When it came to increasing happiness, those altering their facial expressions came out on top.

Feb 7, 2014

Be Positive Stay Healthy

A recent study analyzed data on 3,199 people, 60 and older, including their attitudes about how much they enjoyed life, problems they had with basic daily functions such as dressing and bathing, and how mobile they were.

About 21 percent were deemed to have a high level of enjoyment about life, 56 percent a medium level and 23 percent a low level of enjoyment. In an eight-year span, problems with day-to-day tasks generally increased and mobility declined. About 4 percent of those most upbeat about life developed two or more new functional impairments, compared with 17 percent of those who enjoyed life the least. People assessed as enjoying life at a medium or low level were about 80 percent more likely than their happier counterparts to have developed mobility and functional problems.

There is growing evidence that optimistic people not only tend to live longer, but may enjoy physical benefits as well. As the song says, "Don't worry. Be Happy!" (Bobby McFerrin with Robin Williams and Bill Irwin)

Jul 26, 2013

Eleven Ways to be Happy

Hugs may not be on this list, but they should be.
Spend money on other people. A study  concluded that "the happiest people were the biggest givers, no matter what they earned."

Count your blessings. A University of Pennsylvania professor proved that people who wrote down three good things that happened to them every night were significantly happier than control group who did not.

Try something new. People who try new experiences are generally happier, research has shown.

Delay gratification. Anticipating happiness actually makes you happy. Studies have shown that it's human nature to forestall an enjoyable event.

Expose yourself to more blue. Researchers showed that exposing yourself to the color blue sent "self confidence soaring, cut stress, and boosts happiness."

Set goals for yourself. Psychologist Jonathan Freedman claims that people who set objectives for themselves are happier than those who don't.

Go to church. In a study, people who attended church regularly responded that they were happier and more satisfied with their lives than people who were not religious.

Sleep at least six hours every night. Six hours and 15 minutes a night of un-interrupted sleep makes for the happiest people, a British study found.

Make sure you have at least 10 good friends. Adults who said they had 10 good friends were happier than those who could count five or less close friends.

Fake it 'til you make it. Several studies have shown that just the act of smiling can cause people to experience happy feelings.

Have a romantic relationship. People in relationships were generally found to be happier than other people, and spouses have the highest sense of well-being whether they are happily married or not, according to a study from Cornell University. Of course, listening to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" always makes me smile.