mindset

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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Tips For Developing Your Daily Optimism

 Negative Thoughts Sap Your Optimism


Despite your best intentions, it’s not always easy to take an optimistic view of life. Negative thinking can creep into your mind, and before you realize it, your mindset is sabotaging you.

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1.     Comparing your life with others

Try to avoid comparing your life and achievements with other people. Your life has a value of its own. You can be sure that if you envy your friends or colleagues weddings, PhDs, babies, or luxury holidays, other people envy your accomplishments too.

2.     Having negative self-worth

Do a quick review of your self-talk. Chances are there will be quite a few negatives in there. Practice catching yourself the next time you start thinking badly of yourself. You can do without that kind of self-sabotage!

3.     Thinking you don’t have time

We all get the same amount of time. Twenty-four/seven is the maximum, so make sure you use your time to do the things you want to do, as well the things you must do. If you have a pet project or skill you want to learn, then prioritize it in your schedule.

4.     Underestimating yourself

You can do pretty much whatever you want. Deciding that you can’t do something before you even try is de-energizing and demotivating. What is your secret, passionate goal? What do you need to do to get there?  

5.     Using delaying tactics

There are a whole bunch of sneaky delaying tactics that on the surface appear to be good sense. Saving a certain amount of money, or losing weight before you try a new project, is just another way of saying you can’t do it now.

6 Ways to Cultivate Optimism Each Day

You might be surprised to hear that optimism is not an innate quality. Optimism and pessimism are ways of looking at yourself and the world through a positive or negative filter.  Once you think of them as reflections of your mindset, it becomes much easier to believe you can change. Like any new behavior, you need to practice every day for it to become a habit.  

1.     Keep a journal

Journaling or keeping a diary allows you to process events and to get a different perspective on them. It encourages self-reflection and captures insights into your thinking and behavior. You can write down what happened during your day and document, not just the bald facts but how you did it, what you did to make it happen and what you did right. And, importantly, how it felt while you were doing it. Don’t just record the good things (a promotion, a presentation or meeting that went well), remember to write down the thing that didn’t go so well and reflect on what happened, how you dealt with it, and what you might do differently next time.

2.     Laugh

Consciously notice the funny side of things and write them down. If the technology didn’t work, and you had to give the presentation without the slide deck, or the power went out, or there was a fire drill in the middle of your crucial meeting. What can seem like a disaster at the time can also be looked back on as a comedy of errors.

3.     Write to your future

Write a letter or a journal entry that sets out the future you want. What job are you doing? Are you running your own business? What have you learned? What has changed? Imagining how your future life looks and feels can be a powerful motivator.

4.     Keep a kindness list

Have a page in your journal where you note down kind gestures. Write down when you are kind to someone, or when someone is kind to you. Even little things count, like opening a door for someone or letting them go first in the line for coffee. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they mount up, and your ever-lengthening list will give you a different perspective on things.

5.     Say thank you

Write a letter or email, phone or visit someone (a person outside your family) who has been genuinely kind to you. Tell them how much you appreciate what they did or said and how it has affected your life.

6.     Choose positivity

Make the positive choice to develop and maintain an optimistic outlook. Do this every morning when you wake up. Decide that today is going to be a great day. Everyone will have some level of suffering in their life. Choosing to be optimistic will make it easier to bounce back from the bad times and to enjoy and be certain of the good times.


Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects.
— Norman Cousins

5 Benefits of Daily Optimism

 

There is increasing evidence that being optimistic about life has measurable benefits, not just for your mental health, but your physical well-being too. Scientific studies have shown that as you become more optimistic, your life will improve in all sorts of ways. You’re even likely to have a longer life, just from being more hopeful and positive.

1.     Optimists are healthier

Optimists not only rate their own health and well-being as better, but studies have also shown that optimists have better mental and physical health than pessimists. In a study of the effects of positive psychological well-being, optimism was found to be the biggest predictor of improved heart health. Optimists also have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and a lower risk of developing heart disease.

2.     Optimists live longer

A study by the University of Pittsburgh found that of the 100,000 women studied over eight years, optimists were less likely to die from any cause than women with a more pessimistic outlook.  That was confirmed by a later Harvard study that showed the women who had a positive outlook had a much lower risk (nearly 30% less) of dying from serious illnesses.

3.     Optimists are happier

It might seem obvious that an optimist would be happier than a pessimist. But, it has been shown that optimists are not just sunnier in their dispositions, but they are measurably happier in their relationships, jobs, and life in general. They deal better with stress, are more resilient in bad times, and produce less cortisol, the stress hormone that leads to inflammation and a lowered immune system.

4.     Optimists have smoother career paths

Researchers from Duke University found that the optimistic MBA graduates they studied were more likely to find a job, earn a higher starting salary, and have more frequent promotions than the pessimists in the group. Optimists also deal better with negative feedback, seeing it as an opportunity to improve and increase their chance of promotion in the future.

5.     Optimists roll with the punches

Life’s adversities do not crush an optimist; they remain hopeful about the future. Optimism helps you deal with whatever limiting beliefs you have developed and shows you a way out. Being positive about life’s possibilities means you focus on what you can do. It boosts your confidence and makes you more likely to look for constructive solutions. It stops you feeling stuck or at the mercy of other people. If you’re optimistic, you know you can do it!

4 Tips to Develop Daily Optimism

 

Optimism is a learned skill like any other skill or habit you want to develop. Having an optimistic attitude of yourself, of life and the world can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and resilience, even boosting your immune system and lowering your blood pressure. Studies have shown that optimists have better career prospects and live longer happier lives. 

1.     Identify as an optimist

Self-talk is powerful! Start telling people you’re an optimist, and you’ll soon begin to believe it, and forget you were ever even slightly pessimistic. It never hurts to Act How You Want to Feel.

2.     Accentuate the positives

Notice and acknowledge the positive things around you. Small things like having good food, clean water, and being able to read this article for example. A good exercise is to list ten things you’re grateful for every day – they don’t have to be big things, jot down whatever comes to mind.  

3.     Shift your focus

Optimism is dynamic and forward-looking. Develop a more optimistic outlook by moving on from the past and instead enjoy the present and actively look forward to the future. Optimists also don’t spend much time dwelling on whatever not-so-good things are in their lives. They acknowledge that bad things happen to everyone, and when bad things do happen, it’s not necessarily their fault. Bad times come, and bad times go, it can’t rain forever. And, good times usually happen just as often.

4.     Don’t get hung up on one outcome

Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky, and it’s highly likely you will be disappointed. It’s also harder to pick up and move on if things don’t work out. An optimist will be flexible about outcomes and see that there are many different ones.

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