If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. Mon, Mar 28, 2016
Happy Tuesday Crusaders!
What contributes to your happiness? For me, a recipe for happiness requires a balance between physical and mental health. Below is a snippet from Inc. on how researchers of positive psychology are offering practical advice we can use to start being happier today.
1. Practice gratitude.
You know that if you hit the gym and lift some weights, your muscles get stronger and it becomes easier to lift that same amount of weight over time. But did you know that positivity works much the same way? According to research, consciously counting your blessings is a workout for your brain's capacity for gratitude, making it easier to be more positive--and happier--going forward. (Complaining works in the opposite way, causing your brain to default to gloom.)
2. Focus on the now.
We usually think of daydreaming as a pleasurable activity, but recent studies show that letting your mind wander can actually make you miserable. On the other hand, according to science, paying careful attention to what you're doing in the present moment boosts well-being--even if what you're doing is as boring as the dishes.
That might sound a little out there--who could possibly enjoy folding the laundry?--but it appears that focusing on the task at hand acts as a simple form of mindfulness, calming the mind by blocking future worries or ruminations on the past in a way that's akin to meditation.
3. Exercise more.
Sorry couch potatoes, but the science is unequivocal: Moving your body is a powerful happiness booster. According to one study, regular exercise actually works as well as the popular antidepressant Zoloft at relieving depression. Why? Like common mood-boosting drugs, working up a sweat increases the amount of neurotransmitters circulating in our brains. It also reduces stress, and, of course, keeps you healthy.
4. Get out in nature.
If humans are hardwired to need physical exercise in order to truly thrive, the same can be said of nature. Our species spent millions of years on the savannah, after all, and only a blink of the eye, in terms of evolutionary time, in cities. That's probably why study after study demonstrates that getting out in nature has profoundly positive effects on our mood. Even putting a simple potted plant (or even a picture of one!) on your desk has been shown to boost happiness.
5. Be kind.
The point of generosity, as commonly understood, is helping others, but according to a raft of research, lending a helping hand is also a huge happiness booster for the do-gooder. "There are now a plethora of data showing that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being," Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin and author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain, has explained.
Humans are social animals, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that socializing makes us happier. For instance, one study revealed that, for those suffering through a grumpy day, meeting with friends as soon as possible was a surefire mood booster.