health

Prioritize Your Happiness

Are you wasting your precious time wishing that you had more things to make you happy? How’s that working for you? Life’s short hadn’t you heard. If it’s happiness you want then that’s the feeling you need to prioritize. Not the ephemeral feelings from a string of new things. So, to become happy it’s best you start with gratitude for what you already have.

  

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Happiness increases with gratitude

You may not realize that noticing the good things in your life can make you happier. But when you do, you’ll approach life from a much more positive viewpoint so that your daily tasks and goals feel joyful and less burdensome.

Here are four ways practicing gratitude can make for a happier life.

1.     It sets up a virtuous circle

The more you appreciate the good things in your life, the more you’ll see. And by focusing on things that make you happy, you’ll become more optimistic and expect to see good things! And then you have more to be grateful for and so on. Before you know it, you will have set up a lovely self-fulfilling cycle of positivity and happiness.

2.     You’ll attract more friends

People who are cheerful and optimistic tend to have more friends. Think of Big Bird and Oscar, the Grouch – who’s more fun to be around? Who has more friends? The person who’s cheery and singing, or the grouchy complainer?

3.     You’ll be more resilient

When you are grateful for what you already have it sets you up to be better able to deal with difficult times when they come along. Instead of focusing on the heavy rain during your drive to work, you are grateful that your lawn will be green without having to turn on the sprinklers.

4.     You’ll live longer

Perhaps the most surprising benefit of practicing gratitude is the impact it can have on your physical health. Gratitude primes you for happiness and being happy sets off a whole train of positive chemical interactions in your brain and body. Research has shown that happier people live longer, healthier lives.

The thing everyone should realize is that the key to happiness is being happy by yourself and for yourself.
— Ellen DeGeneres

 

Happiness provides health benefits

Instead of the stress chemical cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and poor immune response, your happy brain will increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate and improved immune function.

If you are happy you set yourself up for a better, more positive aging experience. Unhappy people are more prone to chronic illness, depression and even earlier death.

Encourages Healthy Living

According to studies, happier people are almost twice as likely to eat more fresh vegetables than people who state that they are not happy. Eating more produce will automatically improve your health over those who eat a diet high in processed food.

Provides Energy

When you eat better, you tend to end up with more energy. It’s hard to imagine it but being negative or sad can literally drain your energy out of your body while being happy can give you more energy.

Boosts Immunity

Eating better, moving more, and feeling happy will also increase your ability to fight off illness and disease because it improves your immunity. A study showed that people who report happiness tend to fight off illness faster than people who report sadness. They literally gave people the cold virus and the happy people were three times less likely to catch the cold.

Lessens Stress

If you’re happy, you’ll have a lot less keeping you up at night, to worry about, and therefore you’ll end up with less stress. However, it goes farther than that because happy people tend to report less stress even when they are facing stressful situations. Due to the strength that happiness gives you, you’ll experience less stress.

Protects Cardiovascular Health

Because you’re eating better and moving more due to your happiness, you are also protecting your cardiovascular health. You’re less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other issues related to heart health and the cardiovascular system.

Increases Longevity

Because you’re eating right, exercising more, and you’re feeling great about life, you will likely live longer. According to one long-term study that tracked the lives of 32,000 people to find out who lived longer, the people who report happiness, or the people who report being less happy. It's not surprising that happy people tend to live 14 percent longer.

Diminishes Pain

People who have chronic pain have a right to be mad about it or feel sad about it. However, the fact is people who report being happy tend to deal with their chronic pain (and other illness) better than those who were not happy to start with.

When you are happy, you’re more likely to eat right, drink enough water, and move. It’s mostly because you have more energy to do active things. For more information on nutrition see my past post The Right Nutrition Will Make You Healthier.

 

Happiness is its own reward

Many people believe that success will guarantee happiness. But delaying being happy until you’ve got that promotion, or a bigger car is a mistake. Tying your happiness to achieving your goals almost guarantees you’ll never be happy. Here are three reasons to choose happiness over success.

1.       Are we there yet?

Have you noticed that there are always more goals to achieve? As soon as you get that job, your eye is on the next promotion. Setting goals and achieving them is important but waiting to be happy until you’re successful is like chasing butterflies. There will always be another better butterfly just out of reach.

2.     Choose happy

There’s increasing evidence that happy people tend to be more successful. By focusing on being happy and living life on their terms, they are already successful. Choosing happiness in your current circumstances creates greater self-confidence. You will act and talk like you’ve already made it. And that sort of confidence is contagious and inspiring.  Simply by choosing to be happy you have a competitive edge!

3.     And the definition of success is…

Ask ten people for their definition of success, and you’ll get ten different answers. For some people, it is the consumer dream of an executive job, a fancy car, and a big house. For others, it will be the freedom to travel or paint or write or own their own business.

Probably the most important decision you’ll make is to work out what success means for you. And the most meaningful success is to choose what makes you happy. What is your passion? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

It’s up to you to decide what makes you happy. It’s still okay to want to have the trappings of success but think about why you want them. Chances are it’s the feeling you want rather than the thing itself.

If you think making more money will make you feel secure, or enable you to travel or support your favorite cause, maybe there are other ways you can do those things right now? Maybe you can volunteer for your charity, or choose cheaper vacation options, or start a savings plan.

There’s no need to delay being happy until you’ve reached a level of material success. You can choose to be happy right now and find contentment in the things that already make you feel good!

 

Happiness habits for the good

There’s increasing evidence that it’s not enough to learn a new skill or sign up for the gym. To succeed you need to turn that skill or commitment into a habit. Here are four benefits of forming good habits.

1.     Habits are easy to create, and change!

It’s easy to form a habit, whether it’s good or bad. You can choose to form a habit of getting up early for a run or staying in bed. It’s totally up to you, and you can choose to change a habit any time you like.

You can choose every day whether to eat healthily or not. But the more you choose the positive option, the more it becomes second nature, and before you know it, you’ll be reaching for the smoothie instead of the doughnut.

2.     Reach your goals with good habits

Once you’ve set your goals, you can adjust your behavior to make it more likely that you’ll achieve them. Establishing a daily habit is the first step to achieving success

If you want to lose weight, you can choose to get into the habit of exercising and eating healthier. Running every day will mean you’ll become ready to compete in that triathlon.

3.     Habits keep you focused

Once you’ve set a good habit, it becomes much easier to stick to your plan. If something is part of your routine, you don’t have to convince yourself to do it every day. You can also build new habits onto old ones, such as making sure you do meditation or yoga routine immediately before you brush your teeth. That way you’re much more likely to stick to your commitment.

4.     Habits are foundational

If you want to achieve your life goals, setting positive habits can become your building blocks to success. Make it a habit to pay bills straightaway, and you’ll never pay penalties or jeopardize your credit rating. If you get into the habit of getting to the office early and clearing your emails, you’ll become known for your dedication and efficiency.

Interpersonal habits can be important too. So, don’t forget the people in your life. Make it a habit to acknowledge the things your partner does for you, or when your children behave well, make them feel appreciated.

 

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Ways For You To Choose Happiness

More to happiness than positive thoughts

People may tell you to think “happy thoughts” or to think positively if you want to be happy. And they would be right, and, they would be wrong. Happiness is a mindset, a powerful feeling. If you want to be happy it takes more than just positive thoughts. It also takes positive action. 

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While the dictionary defines happiness as “the state of being happy” which gives you very little information about the idea or feeling of, or state of happiness. Let’s look at some different things that happiness can be, but realize that in truth, happiness is in the mind of the beholder.

You have what you need  

When a person is happy, they usually don’t even have any needs that aren’t being met to the level they want them to be met. It doesn’t mean that someone is not having a hard time it’s all about how you make what you have fill your needs.

You feel satisfied

When you are happy you tend to feel simply satisfied with your life. You think about your life and feel good about it. You feel very satisfied when you look around your life and see all the fortune you have whether it’s where you live, who you live with, or just about yourself doesn’t even matter.

You’re contented

A happy person tends to feel really content about the things in their life. They feel content about their job, their home, their things, their health – nothing is nagging at their mind about anything causing stress. But remember happy people do have stress, they’re just better at feeling content even when things aren’t perfect.

You feel peaceful

A happy person often feels a lot of peace surrounding their life and family. They tend to know that everything will turn out okay and are good at turning negativity into positivity.

You define your happiness

The truth is, happiness is how you define it personally for you. It’s not about getting tons of stuff unless you want that. It’s not about finding a spouse unless you want that. It’s not about having kids unless you want that. It’s all up to you and  your definition of  happiness.

It’s a journey

Happiness is not a destination that you get to one day and stay at. It’s a lifelong journey that will have many ups and downs and struggles. However, overall the ups and downs of life, you manage to feel good about it. In the 1989 movie, “Parenthood” one of the main characters, a mother, who is struggling states that she loves “the roller-coaster” of life while her husband is struggling and not as happy because he focuses on the downs instead of the ups.

How you act

When you are happy you tend to act in more positive ways over all. When happy, you eat better, you move more, you think differently. Don’t worry. You have it in your power to be happy where you are in your life right now.

Happiness is more than thinking positive thoughts. Happiness is having your needs met, but it’s not about having everything, or even the best, it’s about being satisfied with what you have while also being able to work for the things you want. While you do have to do more than think positively to really and truly feel happy, it does start with your thoughts. However, it will manifest with your actions. 

For another look at happiness see my past post, Acting How You Want To Feel.

Five ways being happy is important

You probably have happiness as one of your life goals, whether it’s explicit or not. It’s probably up there with being healthy, wealthy, and wise! There are some solidly good reasons why it’s important to be happy, and some of them will surprise you.

1.   Happiness feels marvelous

Happiness is wonderful purely for its own sake. When you’re happy, you feel energetic and content. All is right with your world, and you naturally want to spread your good vibes.

2.   Being happy is good for your overall health

When you’re happy, you flood your brain with endorphins and other positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Your stress levels go down, along with your blood pressure and your heart rate.

Happy people are more resilient in the face of life’s stress; they tend to be better able to roll with the punches and come up smiling. If you’re happy, you’re less likely to suffer from heart disease, inflammation, and chronic disease. You’ll age better and even live longer!

3.   Success doesn’t mean a thing without happiness

Every day you can read about successful, wealthy people whose lives are out of control due to the pressures of celebrity, drug addiction, or alcoholism. Their success hasn’t automatically meant happiness for them. So, if you think that being rich or having a new car or being famous will make you happy, think again. If you hate your life, no amount of success will bring you joy.

4.   Happy people have better relationships

Happiness is contagious and attractive. We see happy people as more trustworthy and stronger leaders. They are also likely to have a wider circle of friends, have better interpersonal relationships, and are more likely to have a romantic partner.

5.   Being happy makes you a nicer person

It seems that happiness and empathy are linked. Happy people are more likely to share their good fortune and help others.

Happy people are also less violent and more peaceful. Researchers think that positive emotions make us more likely to seek a win/win solution and change the way we think.  

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions”.

   Dalai Lama XIV

Four truths of happiness

Stop for a moment and think about what true happiness is. Guaranteed it’s not a new car or a big house. True happiness comes from within and isn’t dependent on possessions. You can find real happiness in the following truths.

1.   Happiness is found in a full life

You can be happy even if things in your life aren’t going the way you planned. A full life has ups and downs, setbacks as well as achievements. Happiness means finding meaning in whatever is happening around and to you. Being grateful for whatever you’re experiencing will make for a happier, more satisfying life.

2.   Your happiness doesn’t depend on other people

Often people put their happiness in the hands of others. They need external validation to feel good. But relying on other people’s good opinion of you isn’t a healthy way to live.

Check in with how you feel deep in your heart, do the best you can, and let other people worry about themselves.

3.   Happiness is not pretending

Social media is full of people pretending to have perfect lives. They don’t. No one does. The happiness you see on TV or your social media feed may be genuine, maybe not. But remember everyone is showing the best of their lives. Likely a lot of them are pretending to be happier than they are. No one is going to post their latest fight or talk about being fired.

So, the online world you see, that’s full of promotions, and happy families is an illusion. The real world is much more nuanced, and real happiness doesn’t happen in a bubble.

4.   Your happiness comes from within you

It might sound like a truism/cliché, but true happiness does come from within yourself. If you expect someone else to make you happy, whether it’s a partner, friend or child, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. And giving them an unrealistic and unfair responsibility. The only person responsible for your happiness is you.

True happiness comes from a deep connection to yourself, from self-knowing and self-acceptance. And once you have that, all your relationships will be energized and happier. 

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