The secrets to happiness are within the reach of almost everyone. Incorporate the habits, practices, and ways of thinking about the world that happy people use. Beware of the myths associated with happiness. Not gender, age, social, or marital status alone makes one happy.
Stress and pressures of life have negative effects on mood and behavior. They can even lead to heart attack, stroke, or depression. Positive feelings correlate with living longer and having more fun along the way. Randy Larsen and David Buss, chairmen of the Washington University Department of Psychology, co-wrote a textbook called Personality Psychology. They suggest getting in touch with the happiest times of your day, week, or month. Is it playing golf, having dinner with friends, or volunteering at an animal shelter? Try to do more of the things in your life that bring you joy. Here are a few suggestions to increase your happiness. • Just think of how lucky we are living the U.S., rather than the Middle East or somewhere else. We already have it made in terms of the opportunities in this country.
• Try to behave like an extrovert, even though it is not your disposition. Create opportunities to be social. Compliment a person at the grocery store, say hello to someone at a bus stop and have a five-minute conversation.
• Find a new outlet for energy. Clean out your closet or take a walk in a park you never visited. Try learning a new language. Walk on the beach at sunset and have dinner in a new restaurant. If you only read a certain class of book, try something new – an espionage novel or historical biography. Visit a place you haven’t been, somewhere local would be perfect for a weekend getaway.
• Have a few friends write down the five happiest days or nights of their lives. What did you think at that time and how has your perspective changed from the past to now? Get together and discuss it.
• Drop the habits of neurotic people, don’t complain. Be a listening ear for someone else and cheer up a friend who needs it.
• Don’t dwell on a problem or jump to a worst case scenario. We all spend too much time worrying about things that never happen. Keep things in perspective. • Try to find humor in a problem or even laugh at yourself.
• Decide to dwell on what is positive about your life. Before bed, make a short list of ten things you are grateful for today.
In time, that list will grow.