The more time spent socially with family and friends, the more likely we are to report enjoyment and happiness in their lives without a lot of stress and worry. Overall, self-reported mood improves with each hour of social time they spend in a day, topping out at around seven hours. We are the happiest during holidays and on weekends, in other words, time typically spent among family and friends. Easter Sunday, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday are tops for happiness. 1 Experiences and spending time with others fill our human desires for social connectedness. Theatre tickets, concerts and the like make us happier now and in the long run than simply purchasing clothes or gadgets, because “we don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.” 2
So buy those new shoes another day and go bowling with your besties instead.
Did you hear about the short fortune teller who escaped from prison? He was a small medium at large.
Thanksgiving isn’t the only day for expressing what you’re thankful for. Robert Emmos, a psychology professor at University of California Davis, has over ten years of experience researching gratitude and recognizes its importance. Keeping a gratitude journal can increase happiness levels by 25% and lift spirits for up to six months. 4 However, it’s best not to overdo it. Those who kept a gratitude journal once a week reported higher spirits than those who wrote about what they were thankful for and looking forward to three times a week. 5 Discover what works best for you because giving thanks for being alive shouldn’t be a chore.
Itâ€™s number one on New Yearâ€™s resolution lists: lose weight and get into shape. 6 We all know that exercise is good for you. We all know how it increases energy levels, decreases anxiety, and improves sleep. We know it reduces body fat while strengthening muscles. We know it wards off depression, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the heart. We know that exercise releases endorphins and we feel great about ourselves afterwards. 7 And obviously, we know it helps us look hot. We know all of this already. Still, research shows that only about one in four adults exercise enough to meet many of those goals. 27% of adults report getting 30 minutes of moderateintensity exercise at least five days a week while 49% exercise less than three days a week. Research also shows that happiness increases and stress decreases with exercise, with the stress levels the lowest and
happiness levels the highest after six straight days of exercise. 8 A lack of regular exercise segways into being overweight or obese. Obesity is a serious health issue, and a serious happiness issue to boot. More than one in four Americans are obese and this group is significantly more likely to experience depression, stress, worry, anger, and sadness than their overweight, normal weight, or underweight counterparts. 9 There are obvious benefits to regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Most individuals know that they should exercise more and yet close to half of adults lack the motivation to do so. Exercise boosts self esteem, happiness and good health and itâ€™s just half an hour away.
Your hair lo
Our diet provides nourishment, flavor, sustenanceâ€Ś and happiness? Food has the ability to release neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers that carry information from one cell to another. Depending on the amount of nutrients, more or less of a certain neurotransmitter, like dopamine, or serotonin, is produced. Dopamine can increase alertness and energy levels, while serotonin stimulates relaxation and happiness. According to Sharon Natoli, an accredited dietician, B vitamins and folate play important roles in regulating happiness, as well as energy and memory. Individuals with low levels of vitamin B6 have been proven to be more irritable, depressed and anxious than those with normal levels. 10 Our Western diet, according to the â€œAmerican Journal of Psychiatryâ€? is high in saturated
fat, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. It is directly related to high levels of depression and anxiety. 11 A balanced diet, complete with fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat (all packed with B vitamins) is bound to make you feel good. A happiness junkie will avoid excesses in sugar or drugs, both of which alter onesâ€™ moods. Alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana cause a burst in the release of serotonin causing a euphoric mood. Once that initial happiness fades, serotonin levels drop much lower that they were originally, which often leads to continued drug consumption to try to regain the initial super-happy feelings. 12 Itâ€™s an unhappy spiral. Women tend to use alcohol to deal with sadness or anxiety and researchers have concluded that those who drink to cope were more
likely to drink to excess. They were also more likely to abuse alcohol. According to the same study, men who overly-imbibe were shown to lack empathy and had an impaired ability to read emotional cues. 13 Sugar also alters dopamine in the brain. We turn to comfort foods to feel better, however these simple carbohydrates interfere with the functioning of the brain and reduce dopamine. This can lead to mood swings and even depression. 14 Maybe itâ€™s time to reconsider comfort food, because when you eat good, you feel good.
If you hate your job, you are certainly not alone. A recent Gallup poll shows that 71% of workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, i.e, they are emotionally disconnected and less likely to be productive. So, fewer than one in three workers are “engaged” or enthusiastic and happy with their work and contribute positively to their organizations. 15 Being disengaged in one’s work is not only bad for a company, but for the employee as well. Boredom and disinterest in the workplace is connected to poor health, including an inclination towards obesity and chronic illness. 16 What does it take to feel engaged in your work? Gallup shows that the more hours per day adults use their strengths, or “do what they do best,” the
happier they are. When given the opportunity to use their strengths, they reported having extra energy, smiling a lot, learning something new, and being treated with respect. We are happiest when we use our strengths for 10 hours or more. 17 In addition to using oneâ€™s strengths, the jobs which bring the most happiness are those which focus on serving other people. â€œThe most satisfying jobs are those involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others and creative pursuits,â€? said Tom W. Smith, at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The happiest? Clergy members, with 67% reporting high happiness levels, followed by firefighters and reservation agents. Other happy careers include architects, special education teachers, actors and directors, science technicians, industrial engineers, and airline pilots. 16
A report from Michigan State University reveals that being married makes people happier. What they discovered is that, while married people are not necessarily happier than when they were single, they are happier than they would have been if they stayed single. Marriage “protects against normal declines in happiness over adulthood.” 19 While 40% of married Americans describe themselves as “very happy” compared to just 24% of unmarried Americans, marital bliss is not exclusive to the married. 20 Cohabitating couples could be just as happy, according to a separate study. 19 If you haven’t found “the one,” rest assured that your mood can also be improved with a furry friend. Pets can in addition to companionship, offer uncomplicated love. Caring for them can
add a positive focus and routine to your life. Research has found that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and boost levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Another study found that dog owners exercised more often, slept better, reported fewer sick days, and saw their doctors less often than people without dogs. 21 Who know? Maybe one day while walking your dog you will discover your soulmate.
Did you hear about the guy whose left side was cut off? Heâ€™s all right now.
Religious people are happier than nonbelievers, according to a number of sources, and frequent churchgoers (or synagogue-goers or mosque-goers) are happiest of all. 22 Faith in a higher power and the meditative states involved in religion can lower stress and promote happiness. Religious service promotes positive relationships with one's neighbors and charitable acts, and time spent socially have been associated with a higher wellbeing. 23 It is currently debatable as to whether religion makes people happy, or happy people become religious. One study shows that people with more than 10 friends in their congregation were almost twice as satisfied with life as people with no friends in their congregation, perhaps suggesting that earthly relationships make the devout happiest. 24 If organized religion isnâ€™t really your thing, you can
still spend a few minutes each day connecting with something bigger than yourself, which studies show is correlated with happiness. Just stepping back to realize that we are part of an enormous universe can put some perspective on your annoyance with the those-are-definitely-not-mine-and-they-are-absofricking- lutely-repulsive socks under the coffee table. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Create a sacred space or a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book, or practice some yoga. 25 A 2010 BioPsychoSocial Medicine article revealed that long-term yoga practice can significantly reduce fear, anger and fatigue. Whether you're down in the dumps after being dumped, need motivation to get out of bed and get through the day, or just feel out of sorts emotionally, yoga can help you get back on your feet. 26
I think you
The seasons you encounter, the length of your commute, the individuals you interact with on a daily basis, and the community you are a part of affect you more than you might think. Believe it or not, where you live is one of the biggest contributors to your health, and therefore your happiness. Specifically, those who are happy with the city they live in or feel like it is becoming a better place to live are less likely to report having health problems, or suffering from headaches, obesity or diabetes. People who feel safe while walking alone at night are in better health than those who do not, as do individuals who say they have easy access to a safe place to exercise. 27 Where would you be happiest? Living in large metro areas (places with at least a million residents) have
citizens who visit dentists regularly, and fewer cases of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer. Smaller towns or rural areas on the other hand, are where individuals feel safer walking alone at night. Residents there also have higher job satisfaction and less daily stress. 28 As arbitrary as it may seem, your location has a huge impact on your happiness.
Jumping off a Paris bridge makes you in Seine.
According to a new study, â€œcompliments are the new crack.â€? College-aged individuals especially crave praise and compliments, ranking self-esteem as more essential than alcohol, friendship, sex, or money. 29 (And you know how broke college kids are.) This bodes well, because paying others compliments can make you happy! A different set of research has determined that five random acts of kindness a day will boost your own sense of well-being. 30 You donâ€™t have to do much. You can drop a few coins into a parking meter that is about to expire, give your server an especially big tip, buy coffee for a coworker, help an old lady cross the street with her dog.
Do you think that winning the lottery will make you happier? It wonâ€™t. Despite being able to buy anything you wish, within a few months you will return to your baseline happiness level. This is because we human beings have a tendency to remain at relatively stable happiness levels despite a change in fortune or the achievement of ma jor goals. As a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise and so there is no permanent gain in happiness. This is also known as the â€œhedonic treadmill.â€? 30 As it turns out, people with an annual household income of $75,000 are as happy as anyone can get. Household incomes below $75k give lower responses to both life evaluation and emotional wellbeing questions while those with a household income of over $75k don't have proportionately higher levels
of emotional wellbeing (however, their life evaluation rating continues to increase). Regardless of where one lives, even in expensive cities, incomes over $75k donâ€™t correlate to greater happiness. It is enough to live on while allowing for emotionally enriching social experiences. Experiential purchases provide greater happiness than material ones: a mansion is a thrill the first month you live in it but itâ€™s just a house the second. 31
Gretchen Ruben, author of The Happiness Project, recommends some unusual advice to beat the blues. Simply acting happy, like smiling when you don’t feel like it, can be enough to brighten your mood. “Feelings follow actions,” she writes, “If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery and I find myself actually feeling happier.” 32 Research agrees: going through the motions of happiness is enough to influence your emotions. 33 So, in short, if you are unhappy, pretending to be in a better mood will actually make you happier. Apartmenttherapy.com has similar advice. They recommend “if you can’t get out of it, get into it.” 34 Can you think of a single person who actually enjoys doing the dishes? Vaccuuming? Folding the laundry? Tell yourself you actually like doing a certain chore and then allow yourself to believe it. Crank some
tunes, fistpump or dance around, and pretend that you actually enjoy the chore. Who knows? One day you really might.
Once youâ€™ve seen one shopping center, youâ€™ve seen the mall.
1 http://www.gallup.com/poll/107692/Social-Time-CrucialDaily-Emotional-WellBeing.aspx 2 http://suite101.com/article/what-causes-happinessa110601 3 http://www.prevention.com/health/emotionalhealth/how-add-more-happiness-your-life#ixzz2D5juFDlG 4 http://news.yahoo.com/number-one-list-resolutionslose-weight-getaway-fitness-080638478.html 5 http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercisedepression 6 http://www.gallup.com/poll/118570/Nearly-HalfExercise-Less-Three-Days-Week.aspx 7 http://www.gallup.com/poll/143045/Obesity-LinkedLower-Emotional-Wellbeing.aspx
8 http://suite101.com/article/how-diet-affects-yourhappiness-a123701 9 http://www.livestrong.com/article/370474-reasons-tolive-a-healthy-lifestyle/#ixzz2D6XH0300 10 http://www.livestrong.com/article/221617-serotonindepletion/#ixzz2D6VlYAcc 11 http://www.prevention.com/health/emotionalhealth/research-uncovers-emotional-toll-drinking-alcohol#ixzz2D6ZoqGQn 12 http://www.livestrong.com/article/386868-foods-thataffect-dopamine-levels-in-the-brain/ 13 http://www.gallup.com/poll/150383/Ma jority-AmericanWorkers-Not-Engaged-Jobs.aspx 14 http://www.gallup.com/poll/147191/ActivelyDisengaged-Workers-Jobless-Equally-Poor-Health.aspx 15 http://www.gallup.com/poll/157679/americansstrengths-stress-less.aspx
16 http://www.news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/070417.jobs 17 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/03/marriageand-happiness_n_1560585.html 18 http://nymag.com/news/features/17573/index1.html 19 http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/petsdepression 20 http://www.gallup.com/poll/153374/ChurchgoersBoast-Better-Mood-Especially-Sundays.aspx 21 http://www.gallup.com/poll/152723/ReligiousAmericans-Enjoy-Higher-Wellbeing.aspx 22 http://www.livescience.com/9090-religion-peoplehappier-hint-god.html 23 http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-things-that-willmake-you-happier-at-home-174151 24 http://www.prevention.com/health/emotionalhealth/yoga-poses-emotional-health 25 http://www.gallup.com/poll/158000/americans-livebetter-health.aspx
26 http://www.gallup.com/poll/128063/Large-MetroAreas-Top-Small-Towns-Rural-Areas-Wellbeing.aspx 27 http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/what-doyou-want-more-than-sex 28 http://www.prevention.com/health/emotionalhealth/how-add-more-happiness-your-life#ixzz2D5kBISYy 29 http://nymag.com/news/features/17573/index2.html 30 http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/150671/ Happiness-Is-Love-and-75K.aspx 31 http://www.happinessproject.com/happiness_project/ 2008/11/tips-ten-tips-f/ 32 http://www.happinessproject.com/happiness_project/ 2009/02/every-wednesday-is-tip-day-this-wednesdaynine-tips-for-dealing-with-a-happiness-emergency-iposted-originally-posted/
BLISSFUL has spent months researching happiness and the book in your hands is the result of their findings. Be forewarned: this is no self-help book. With accordionfolded pages, reader-directed compliments, bad jokes, and quirky Marc Johns’ illustrations this book is designed to uplift one’s mood and brighten one’s day. It contains everything one might want to know about happiness, complete with sources if you would care to learn more.