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But are they really the keys to happiness? The research says no, at least when it comes to long-term happiness. Human beings are quick to adapt to new circumstances—a quality that has helped us survive and thrive. But it also means that the positive things that initially make us happier soon become our new normal and we return to our old happiness baseline.
What it takes is an inner change of perspective and attitude. In order to be happy, you do need enough of it to cover your basic needs: things like food, shelter, and clothing. For example, studies of lottery winners show that after a relatively short period of time, they are no happier than they were before their win. Indeed, singles who have meaningful friendships and pursuits are happier than people in mismatched romantic relationships.
Expecting your partner to deliver your happily-ever-after may actually harm the relationship in the long-run. You—not your partner or your family members—are responsible for your own happiness. Fact: Contrary to popular belief, people tend to get happier with age. Study after study confirms that seniors experience more positive emotions and fewer and less intense negative emotions than young people and middle-aged adults. Generally, older adults are also more satisfied with their lives, less sensitive to stress, and more emotionally stable.
Even with the losses that come with age, it is the happiest time of life for many people. Fact: Genetics do play a role in happiness. Our brains are wired to notice and remember the things that are wrong.
But just as dwelling on negative things fuels unhappiness and plays a big role in depression and anxietychoosing to notice, appreciate, and anticipate goodness is a powerful happiness booster.
Teaching yourself to become more grateful can make a huge difference in your overall happiness. The research shows that gratitude helps you experience more positive emotions, decrease depression, feel better about yourself, improve your relationships, and strengthen your immune system.
A recent study revealed that gratitude even makes you smarter about how you spend your money. There are a of simple exercises you can practice to increase and cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Give sincere thanks to others. When someone goes above and beyond or does something to make your day easier, be quick to verbalize your thanks and appreciation.
Not only will it make the person feel good, it will give you a happiness lift, too. Keep a gratitude journal. It may sound cheesy, but writing down the good things that happened to you during the day really works.
Research shows that keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful technique that instantly makes you feel happier, more connected to others, and genuinely appreciative. Count your blessings. Make it a habit to regularly reflect on the things you have to be thankful for. Bring to mind all the good people, experiences, and things in your life, both now and in the past. Focus on the blessings both big and small, from the people who love you, to the roof over your head and the food on your table. Write a letter of gratitude.
Think of someone who did something that changed your life for the better who you never properly thanked. Write a thoughtful letter of gratitude expressing what the person did, how it affected you, and what it still means to you. Then deliver the letter.
Positive psychology expert Martin Seligman recommends reading the letter in person for the most dramatic increase in happiness.
Find the positive in a negative event from your past. Even the most painful circumstances can teach us positive lessons.
Reevaluate a negative event from your past with an eye for what you learned or how you became stronger, wiser, or more compassionate. Relationships are one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. Studies that look at happy people bear this out. The happier the person, the more likely that he or she has a large, supportive circle of family and friends, a fulfilling marriage, and a thriving social life. If you make an effort to cultivate and build your connections with others, you will soon reap the rewards of more positive emotions. And as you become happier, you will attract more people and higher-quality relationships, leading to even greater positivity and enjoyment.
Make a conscious effort to stay connected. But losing touch with friends is one of the most common end-of-life regrets. Make an effort to stay connected to the people who make your life brighter. Take the time to call, write, or see each other in person. Invest in quality time with the people you care about. People who are in happy relationships talk a lot. Offer sincere compliments. Think of the things you admire and appreciate about the other person and then tell them. This will not only make the other person happier, it will encourage him or her to be an even better friend or partner.
As a practice of gratitude, it will also make you value the relationship more and feel happier. Seek out happy people. Research shows that happiness is contagious. You can literally catch a good mood you can also catch a bad mood, but thankfully, sadness is less contagious than happiness. So, make an effort to seek out and spend time with happy people. Take delight in the good fortune of others. Do you show genuine enthusiasm and interest when your friend or family member experiences something good?
Ask questions, relive the experience with the other person, and express your excitement for him or her. Remember, happiness is contagious, so as you share the experience, their joy will become yours. Think about a time when you were depressed or anxious. Chances are, you were either dwelling on something negative from the past or worrying about something in the future. In contrast, when you focus on the present moment, you are much more likely to feel centered, happy, and at peace.
So how do you start to live more in the moment and savor the good things life has to offer? Mindfulness meditation is a powerful technique for learning to live in and enjoy the moment. No pan flutes, chanting, or yoga pants required. Simply speaking, meditation is exercise for your brain. When practiced regularly, meditation appears to decrease activity in the areas of the brain associated with negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression. At the same time, it increases activity in the areas associated with joy, contentment, and peace. It also strengthens areas of the brain in charge of managing emotions and controlling attention.
Body scan — Body scanning cultivates mindfulness by focusing your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. In walking meditation, mindfulness involves being focused on the physicality of each step — the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and the feeling of the wind against your face. Sit down at the table and focus your full attention on the meal no TV, newspapers, or eating on the run.
Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite. But there are other things you can do to increase your awareness and enjoyment. Adopt enjoyable daily rituals. Build moments of enjoyment into your day with pleasurable rituals.
These can be very simple things like lingering over a cup of coffee in the morning, taking a short stroll in the sunshine during your lunch hour, or playing with your dog when you get home. Minimize multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time in order to truly maximize your enjoyment. Stop to smell the roses. It will enhance your pleasure, even if you can only spare a few seconds. Shared pleasure is powerful. Replay happy memories. Remembering and reminiscing about happy memories and experiences from your past le to more positive emotions in the present. There is something truly fulfilling in helping others and feeling like your actions are making a difference for the better in the world.
In addition, they also tend to have higher self-esteem and general psychological well-being. Happiness is just one of the many benefits of volunteering.
Practice kindness. Look for ways to be more kind, compassionate, and giving in your daily life. Play to your strengths. The happiest people know what their unique strengths are and build their lives around activities that allow them to use those strengths for the greater good.
There are many different kinds of strengths, including kindness, curiosity, honesty, creativity, love of learning, perseverance, loyalty, optimism, and humor.
Go for the flow. Research shows that flow, a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity, is closely associated with happiness.
Anything that completely captivates you and engages your full attention can be a flow activity. Exercise and sleep are particularly important when it comes to happiness. It also has a powerful effect on mental well-being. People who exercise regularly are happier across the board. For bestaim for an hour of exercise at least five days a week. Find something that suits your lifestyle and preferences. It could be taking a dance class, shooting hoops, walking in nature, ing a community sports league, playing tennis, running with your dog, swimming laps at the pool, hiking, biking, or doing yoga in the park.
What sports or games did you like to play? Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality, and emotional stability during the day. How much sleep do you need? According to sleep scientists, the average person needs at least 7. Alexander, R. The neuroscience of positive emotions and affect: Implications for cultivating happiness and wellbeing.
Bohlmeijer, E. Journal of Happiness Studies, 22 3— Mogilner, C.Want happiness here i am
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