Healthy lifestyles enhance happiness

The United Nations has declared March as Happiness month because it is so important to our health and well being. Please keep reading for ideas and tips.

Bible — Laughter is the best medicine. The truth is, happiness doesn’t come from wealth, perfect looks or even a perfect relationship. Happiness comes from within. This is why, if you truly want to be happy, you need to work on yourself first.

What’s the secret to being happy? You can learn how to do it, just as you can learn any other skill. Those who are happy tend to follow a certain set of habits that create peace in their lives; if you learn to apply these habits in your own life, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy, too.

A Healthy Lifestyle Naturally Enhances Happiness

You may have noticed that some of the habits of happy people are one in the same with those that are essential for leading a healthy lifestyle — exercising and eating right, for example. Once you adopt a happiness mindset, and even before you do, embracing healthy habits will help keep your mood elevated naturally even in the midst of stress. Happy people tend to be healthy people, and vice versa, so in addition to healthy food and exercise, the following lifestyle strategies can also help to support emotional wellness:

– Proper sleep — Sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression, while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems.

– Omega-3 fats — Low concentrations of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are known to increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to non-depressed individuals. Krill oil is my preferred source of omega-3 fats.

– Regular sun exposure — This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. But even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins

Nearly half the time you’re awake, your thoughts drift. And how often your mind wanders is a predictor of how happy you are — new research finds that the more often you take yourself out of the present moment, the less happy you are.

So U.S. News & World Report suggests the following five ways to keep yourself in the moment — and ultimately be happier:

Start the day with a focused task. Those who practice a little mindfulness in the morning have a better ability to stay focused throughout the day.

Exercise with mindfulness. You can add mindfulness to your workouts by paying attention to the sensations you are experiencing while you exercise.

Immerse yourself in a good book or movie. Just don’t allow yourself to be distracted by a ringing phone or buzzing Blackberry.

Minimize multi-tasking. Force your attention back to the task at hand.

Practice five to 10 minutes of daily meditation. Those who practice regular meditation can stop their minds

The following tips can help you; however, if you are seriously depressed, get some professional help. There are many new cutting-edge energy therapies that clear away negative emotions and negative thinking.

1) Develop a genuine smile and laugh a lot — Act happy — It works. Smile into the mirror a few times a day. Smiling makes you happy and the more you smile the more happy you become. We all like people who smile. It also makes us more attractive.

2) Pray — Become religious or spiritual — This only works if you believe in God. If you want to be happy then ask God to make you happy. Prayer helps you accomplish things.

3) Be generous and share with others — Give more than you receive because being generous will make you happy.

4) Treat time as a friend — Don’t watch the clock.

5) Exercise your mind — Keep yourself busy with some new project or ideas.

6) Work your body — Exercise regularly. Studies show that aerobic exercise is an antidote for mild depression and anxiety.

7) Have fun in life — Keep cool under pressure.

8) Pursue achievable goals.

9) Have high confidence in yourself.

10) Respect the disadvantaged.

11) Age gracefully.

12) Give compliments — Take every opportunity to be complimentary. Want to make someone like you? Every time you meet a person smile and give them a compliment.

13) Be honest — With honesty comes openness. People respect honest and open minded people.

14) Keep an open mind — Most people seem to think that they know everything that they need to know. There’s plenty of wisdom to go around.

15) Treat difficulties as challenges — Life’s an adventure and every obstacle in life is one of its challenges. Treat life as a game. What fun would a game be if you could never lose?

Could a sunny outlook mean fewer colds and less heart disease? Doctors say yes.

Do hope and curiosity somehow protect against hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory tract infections? Again doctors say yes.

If you continue to focus all your energy and attention on what you want, you’ll soon find yourself unhappy. Realize now that true happiness results from sharing generously of yourself, your mind, emotion and spirit, with all those who come in contact with you.

Of course we can attain happiness. It’s not reasonable, however, to expect to be constantly happy. The idea is to maximize the happiness and minimize the unhappiness.

Many things that cause people to be unhappy are beyond our control for the most part. But don’t “dwell” on an unhappy situation … fix it, or get over it!

Happiness is important to replenish the soul, it comes and goes to let other emotions take place which bring enrichment and health to your life too.

Happiness, being a measurement of that which gives us pleasure, is important because it releases endorphins, oxytocin, and other such neurotransmitters into the blood that give your body a high. This high drives the body to continue to grow, repair/replace dead cells, and otherwise function normally (or even at a better rate of efficiency). Ever notice how chronically unhappy people are so often sick or physically a mess? Whereas even science will say laughter and smiles help the body heal faster? Your brain is designed to encourage behavior that brings it satisfaction and pleasure. It’s been programmed that way since day one, when human beings had little else to worry about other than hunting for food and producing offspring.

That which is not challenged becomes quickly bored. This is the reason many psychologists give for successful people gambling their families and fortunes on risky or illegal behavior: they need the challenge the risk.

So while you cannot achieve perfect happiness, you can attain self-satisfaction by being happy with what you have while continuing to grow and achieve what you also want. Happiness is not found in the end result, but in the pursuit. It is by growing and challenging yourself that you create new heights in your life, and if you do this while being grateful for your current life, you cannot be unhappy.

Ten Reasons Why Happiness is Important

You might wonder why happiness is important. If you believe as I do that happiness is a choice and a skill that can be learned, why is it important enough to go out of your way for.

Why choose happiness?

We can find some good reasons in this list of ten things happy people have in common.

Happy people: Feel Good

Happiness is fun and it feels good. That is a worthwhile reason why happiness is important all by itself.

Live Longer

Many studies have shown that happy people live longer. One study followed nuns who wrote a short biographical sketch before taking their vows. At the age of 85, 90 percent of the nuns with cheerful biographies (top 25 percent) was still alive, compared to just 54 percent of the least cheerful. At 94 years of age, 54 percent of the most cheerful quarter were alive compared to only 11percent of the least cheerful. Many other studies have shown similar results.

Have Better Health

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Another reason why happiness is important is that the link between stress and illness is very well known and well documented, as is the reverse. Happy, positive feelings change the chemical make up of our bodies, producing chemicals that enhance immunity, cell repair, and building strength. Happiness is the opposite of stress. See the article, Three Research Findings on the Link Between Happiness and Health, for more ways being happy is good for your health.

Bounce Back Faster

Happiness and optimism go together. Optimistic people see bad things as temporary and good things as permanent. Their positive expectation of good things helps them see and act on options and opportunities faster. There is a saying, you get what you look for. Optimists look for opportunities for a good outcome.

More Likely to Be Romantically Involved

Happy people are more likely to be romantically involved. Study after study shows that happy people are more likely to be married, romantically involved and have multiple close friendships. Scientists have struggled with whether being happy makes you more attractive or more likely to get married or getting married makes you happier. It seems both may be true. Happier people are more attractive and being happier makes you more likely to be attracted to someone else.

Solve Problems Faster

Many studies have shown that people who are in a positive or happy mood solve problems better and faster. Their solutions are more inventive and they concentrate better. Happiness also improves people’s ability to learn and remember things. Better problem solving is another reason why happiness is important.

Look for the Win-Win

Scientists theorize that our positive emotions, like happiness, serve an evolutionary purpose. Where negative emotions spur us to fight or flight by generating chemicals in our bodies, positive emotions spur us to learn, explore and grow the same way. In short, positive emotions create a completely different way of thinking in our bodies.

Are Not Violent

When you hear about the last few days of a killer’s life people they never say, he seemed so happy. Happy people want to make love more than they want to make war. The physiological state caused by happiness helps happy people see the win-win solutions and be drawn to avoid conflict.

Are More Likely to Help Others

There is a strong link between feeling good and doing good. Not only does doing good help us feel good, but studies have shown that happy people are more willing to share their good fortune to help others than unhappy people. Happy people make the world a better place.

Are Lucky

Our final reason why happiness is important come from studies that show happy people are luckier. There seem to be several factors that contribute to this. First, happy people are optimistic. Then tend to see opportunity more frequently and they are more likely to make lemonade when life gives them lemons.

Perhaps less obvious is the link between luck and virtue. Almost every culture and religion respects happiness or the behaviors that happy people exhibit. In an extensive study of all the worlds religions, the VIA Inventory of Virtues and Strengths , found six core virtues common to all major religions and cultures.

Exercising any one of these virtues usually causes happiness either mindfully or through flow. When we respect and admire someone, as we do with people who are good, we unconsciously give them breaks and the benefit of the doubt — contributing to luck. So happy people are often respected for their virtue and they are more likely to find good outcomes when bad things happen. Truly, happy people are blessed

It is what the United States was built upon. It can’t be taken away. It gives people opportunity to do what they want and to achieve their goals

For more information, call Kathleen O’Connor at 304-218-1958.

O’Connor has a degree in gerontology from West Liberty University and a master’s degree in organizational leadership.


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