Receive Happiness

Do you want to feel happier? Have you ever wondered how you can enjoy more contentment, purpose, and meaning in life? Happiness comes from many things, from individual life choices and the people around us to a sense of belonging to a greater community. You can increase your own happiness by leading a healthier lifestyle, drawing strength from relationships, and seeking a higher vocation.


Living a Happier and Healthier Life

  1. Eat a healthier diet. Studies show that people who eat a “normal” American diet of refined and junk food suffer from more depression, anxiety, mood swings, and hyperactivity.[1] Try to eat healthier if you want to boost your mood and live a happier life.[2]
    • Eat more unprocessed foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Things like leafy greens, nuts, and beans and nuts will help to level your blood sugar and your mood. Try to cut down on refined foods, and foods that contain added sugars.
    • Don’t fear fats, as well. Eating healthy fats from foods like fish, seafood, or olive oil may help to protect you from mood disorders.[3]
  2. Get plenty of sleep. We’ve all heard about the importance of sleep in helping our bodies rest and regenerate. Getting enough ZZZs – 7 to 9 hours for most adults – will make you more alert and aware and boost your mood. Make sleep a priority.
    • One study shows that sleep loss interferes with the part of the brain that processes positive stimuli. This means that we’re less likely to recall pleasant memories when we don’t sleep.[4]
    • Getting enough sleep is may also be linked to healthy libido, better work performance and patience, and less depression and anxiety.[5][6]
  3. Exercise. Like sleep, we’ve all heard how exercise is important for our physical health. But did you know that exercising can make you happier? Even a little exercise will give you energy, a mood boost, and even reduce feelings of physical pain. It can be a powerful tool in combating depression, for example.[7]
    • Apart from health benefits, regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress, ward off depression, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep.
    • Most doctors say you should get about 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise per week. This includes swimming, walks, bicycling, or aerobics.[8]
    • You may be able to get mental benefits with even a small amount of exercise. Try working short, ten minute workouts into your schedule if you are short on time.[9]
  4. Stop and smell the roses. People talk about “living in the moment.” Notice the world. It can actually increase your level of happiness throughout the day. According to one study, people who felt engaged in the task at hand reported high levels of happiness. Whether or not their minds were focused was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing.[10]
    • You might try to reduce distractions to keep focused. Turn off electronics devices and your smart phone, for example. Don’t try to multitask.
    • Pay attention to surroundings. Stop to notice things like birdsong, the sound of tree leaves in the wind, the smell of coffee, or snippets of conversation on the street.[11]
    • Try to catch yourself when your mind wanders. Bring your attention back to your body and its physical location. Remind yourself that what you are doing – work, a conversation, sex, or reading – deserves your full attention.
  5. Be grateful for blessings. Count your blessings – it just might make you a happier person. Being mindful of what we have in life, whether our family, friends, job, or home, can increase mental mood. This may be because gratitude spikes a part of the brain that control stress and feelings of reward.[12]
    • Try writing down all of the things you consider blessings in a “gratitude journal,” the things that you are grateful for. Be thoughtful and think hard about what they are and why you are grateful for them.[13]
    • Just saying thank you to people can also boost your mental health and leave you feeling happier.

Finding Strength in Relationships

  1. Spend time with family and friends. There are many ways to find happiness outside of ourselves, as well, and one the big ones is through relationships. We’re social creatures and need a sense of belonging, understanding, and love to feel totally fulfilled. Researchers have not only found that people are happier when they are with others than when alone, but that happiness can be “contagious.”[14]
    • Take time to visit your family members, your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. If they live out of town, talk to them over the phone.
    • Make time for friends. Some people are introverts rather than extroverts, but both types benefit from social interaction.[15] Go out for lunch, coffee, drinks, or do an activity together.
  2. Do random acts of kindness. Studies show that doing good for its own sake can bring happiness to the do-gooder. We feel more compassion, more empathy, and a sense of connection to others, all of which can increase our happiness.[16]
    • A good deed can be as easy as taking over your spouse’s chores to help them. Or, it might be helping an elderly neighbor carry his groceries inside.
    • Offer to help friends, neighbors, and strangers. Pay someone a random compliment, offer to pick up a stranger’s tab at dinner, or call a friend who is having a hard time.
    • Be generous without giving too much. Don’t over-extend yourself. Trying to help too many people or too often can leave you feeling overwhelmed.[17] Balance is key.
  3. Forgive and forget. Don’t hold on to grudges or anger. These sorts of negative thoughts seriously affect your ability to be happy in life. Unforgiving people tend to be more angry and hostile. They are more likely to develop serious problems with depression or anxiety.[18] Try instead to let go and forgive others.
    • Forgiving does not mean that you have to forget or even tell the person that they are forgiven. It also doesn’t mean you are excusing them. Rather, think of it as choosing to be positive rather than negative.[19]
    • Try to focus on how you have grown as a result of a hurt, and what it taught you about yourself.
    • Think too about the person who hurt you and accept that they are flawed. Why do you think that he acted as he did?[20] Practice empathy, in other words.
    • You might write a letter to the person who hurt you, as well. You don’t need to send it, but it will allow you to release your emotions and get some sense of closure.
  4. Make yourself understood. Learn to communicate wants and needs and to set boundaries. Often we get frustrated when it seems like other people don’t listen to us or walk all over us. Developing clear and assertive communication will help you be understood.
    • Try to think and talk about yourself positively. Don’t hedge with phrases like, “I guess...,” “maybe this is crazy but...” or “but that’s just my opinion.” These communicate uncertainty.
    • No one can read your mind and tell how you feel. Use “I” statements to get your point across. Starting sentences with “I think/feel/believe/want...” puts your wants and needs upfront, while using it in place of “you” statement also stops you from seeming defensive.
    • Remember that you do not always have to explain yourself. You have a right to your opinion and to say no.
    • Persistence! Use the “broken record” method to get your point across and repeat statements of fact, i.e., “No, I can’t pick up your shift this weekend. I’ll be busy with a prior engagement.”
  5. Find happiness at work. Adults spend most of their waking hours at work. It’s no surprise that being happy with what you do there will have big impact on your overall happiness. How can you increase your happiness at work?
    • Seek a job that challenges you and that fits your values, for one thing. Would you do your job even if you didn’t get paid? Does it suit your passions? Does it excite you? These will all increase your sense of happiness.[21]
    • Look for meaning in your work, too. People are happier when they see a purpose in their job. You don’t have to love your job, just see how doing it makes a difference. That might mean finding meaning in the job itself, in work friendships, or in providing for a family.
    • Try to find balance. Even if you have a great job, it shouldn’t be your entire life. Separate what you do for a living with who you are as a person. For instance, take your allotted holidays. Take breaks, as well, instead of skipping them to please your boss or to get more done for the “team.”

Serving a Greater Good

  1. Get involved in meaningful activities. Getting involved will give you a greater sense of purpose and motivation and make you feel more in control. People who have a sense of purpose, a vocation, often report less depression, stress, and anxiety and a greater sense of control in life.[22]
    • Consider joining a bigger community of people. It could be a reading group, a bridge or supper club, or a religious community.
    • Meaning might also come from a job, for example, by teaching, mentoring, working in health care, or running a non-profit organization.
  2. Be curious and learn about the world. You might be surprised, but education is directly tied to how happy people are and how long they live. Learning and doing new things seems to stimulate the brain and to produce contentment, especially when we face challenging new tasks.
    • Doing something new can raise your self-confidence and sense of accomplishment. Learn to sing or play an instrument, take up a new hobby, play a new sport, or read about something new.[23]
    • Be curious and experiment. Have you ever tried Indian cuisine? Go for it. What about rock climbing? Give it a try and test your boundaries.
  3. Give to charity and volunteer. Giving time and money to others is a great way to feel connected to a greater cause. One study shows that giving to charity and helping others gives the greatest happiness when it builds social connections. People who gave also reported feeling more healthy and less stress.[24]
    • Try giving to charity. Give money to a local homeless shelter or to worldwide charities like Amnesty International or UNICEF.
    • Spur of the moment giving counts, too, whether you give your change to a counter-top donation bin or treat someone in need to lunch or coffee.
    • Volunteering your time might be even better because of the personal connections that you will make. Working in a soup kitchen, going on a mission trip, or volunteering at a women’s shelter will give you an increased sense of purpose and empathy for others.
  4. Take up meditation. Meditation can improve focus and make you happier, more compassionate, and more self-aware by physically changing the brain. In fact, it is so effective in promoting well-being that some 6 million Americans have been “prescribed” meditation by their doctor in recent years.[25]
    • Meditation can be a personal exercise or part of a bigger, more structured faith tradition. Simple meditation is really about clearing the mind, calming yourself, and relaxing.
    • You can meditate in as little as ten minutes per day. Find a quiet place and time, sit down, and breathe regularly through the nose and out the mouth. Focus your mind on your breathing.
    • What should you expect while meditating? This is actually the wrong question. You should not expect anything. Meditation is more about being in the moment. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet goals or perform.[26]
  5. Learn more about forms of higher belief. If you feel the need to find a greater purpose, consider learning more about the world’s great faith traditions or getting in touch with your spirituality. Many people (Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or those with no formal ties to a faith) find meaning and purpose through religion. In fact, studies show that belief correlates to happiness and that spiritual people are generally more content. This is probably because they feel a clearer sense of meaning in life.[27]
    • Spiritual communities offer many benefits of service, relationships, and vocation at the same time. Try reading books about faiths or even leafing through a copy of a scripture like the Quran, Bible, or the Hindu Vedas.
    • For some people, being outside can be a spiritual experience. Consider camping, walks through the woods, or silent contemplation of nature.
    • Be curious and ask questions. Many spiritual people are open and are happy to explain why they believe. Some may try to convert you, but others will only be glad to answer your questions.
    • If you are seriously interested, talking with a religious figure – a priest, rabbi, guru, or other spiritual authority – may give you better direction in your search for spirituality.

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  2. [v161447_b01]. 19 June 2020.
  12. [v161447_b01]. 19 June 2020.
  14. [v161447_b01]. 19 June 2020.

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