10 steps to happiness
Happiness - it's what we all strive to find and keep, even when it's as elusive as ever. Nobody is jolly and elated all the time, but some individuals are definitely more fulfilled than others. Studies reveal that happiness has a little to do with materialistic needs, goods, or wants, or high achievement; it boils down to your outlook on life, the quality of your relationships, and basic amenities like good governance and community resources. Check out step 1 and beyond for more tips and tricks on how to unlock the happier you!
1. Be optimistic. In the 1970s, reseachers followed people who'd won the lottery and found that a year afterward, they were no happier than people who didn't. This suggests that we each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens, good or bad, the effect on our happines is temporary, and we tend to revert to our baseline happiness level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that is due in part to genetics, but it's also largely influenced by how you think.
2. Follow your gut. In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision, weighing pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions. Now, some of our decisions are more crucial than picking out posters, but by the time you're poring over your choice, the options you're weighing are probably very similar, and the diffence will only temporarily affect your happiness.
3. Own yourself. This means accept and embrace your habits, your personality, mistakes, the way you talk, looks, your voice and most importantly 'You'. Try to be comfortable in your own skin and subconsciously communicate to others that, 'This is me take it or leave it'. It means don't apoligize to anyone for something which is a part of you, remember there is always someone who likes you for the way you are.
4. Treat your body like it deserves to be happy. It may sound cheesy to say, but your brain isn't the only organ in your body that deserves to be happy. Reseachers have found that exercise, healthy diets, and regular sleep are key factors in growing more happy and staying that way.
5. Stay close to friends and family. Or move to where they are, so you can see them more. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think salary increases makes us happier, but in fact our relationships with friends and family have a far greater impact on happiness.
6. Be compassionate. Compassion is all about doing something for someone else in need, someone less privileged than yourself. A brain-imaging study revealed that people gain as much happiness from watching others give to charity as they do receiving money themselves!
7. Have deep, meaningful conversations. A study by a psychologist at the University of Arizona has shown that spending less time participating in small talk and more time in deep, meaningful conversations can increase happiness. So next time you're beating around the bush with a friend, instead cut straight to the chase. You'll be happier for it.
8. Find happiness in the job you have now. Many peopple expect the right job or career to dramatically change their level of happiness. But reseach makes it clear that your levels of optimism and quality of relationships eclipse the satisfaction gained from your job.
9. Smile! Science suggests that when you smile, whether you're happy or not, your mood is elevated. So smile all the time if you can! Smiling is like a feedback loop: smiling reinforces happiness, just as happiness causes smiling.
10. Forgive. In a study of college students, an attitude of forgiveness contributed to better cardiovasular health. You could say forgiveness literally heals the heart. While it's unknown how forgiveness directly affects your heart, the study suggests that it may lower the perception of stress.