If you’re like most people you’ve been planning your New Year’s resolutions. Typical resolutions revolve around lifestyle, health improvements, personal and work goals or ambitions. One of the things we hope for, whether directly or indirectly, as a by-product of our efforts is to be happier. We have a tendency to think that if we achieve our New Year’s resolutions (or any goal for that matter), we’ll be happier. Well just in case you fall short of your resolutions, there’s no reason you still can’t be happier in 2014 and that’s where this great article I read in “Outside” magazine comes in. Not one of the magazines I typically read, but the catchy cover title drew me in, “What Makes us Happy. Play More. Get Dirty. Eat Shrimp. 37 Simple Habits that will Change Your Life.” What I liked about the article is most of the suggestions are simple and based on scientific research. Below are some of the ideas I really liked and have resolved to make a part of my 2014!
Get Dirty: No really, get dirty. Apparently working in soil has a positive effect on our mood because we’re exposed to “cheerful germs.” If you’re not a gardiner or don’t have your own patch of dirt to play in, you can still be exposed to these happy germs by taking a walk in the great outdoors.
Make Every Day Saturday: I really liked this one. As the article states, we’re “happier on the weekends.” The reason for this is we have a greater sense of freedom on the weekend and the ability to make choices (I’d say it peaks on Saturday and dwindles as Sunday comes to an end). The “happiness” we experience on the weekend (and in general) can be enhanced by spending it with people we care about. One of the ways to get this feeling on a more regular basis is to schedule a couple of hours away from home during the week with no plans and do something spontaneous to give yourself that “TGIF buzz.”
Crank the Tunes: Listening to music you like has a chemical impact on your brain with the greatest effect happening “just before and during favorite parts of a song.” If you’ve got songs you associate with happy times in your life, create a playlist and start listening!
Drink Up (Water that is…but don’t worry the article talks about the benefits of moderate drinking): Dehydration has a negative impact on your mood. Drinking more water is good for you for so many reasons, but if it can put you in a better mood as well, why not?
Go Screenless: We all know we need to do this but here’s some interesting research the articles talks about:
- an increased use of “Facebook meant less sense of wellbeing”
- the happiest people watch less than an hour of tv a day (based on National Geographic’s True Happiness Test Survey)
- unplugging completely at least one night a week helped a group of consultants function better as a team and be more productive in a shorter period of time.
Give Your Time: We all like that feeling of doing something nice for someone or going out of our way to help a stranger. Well, do more of it and make that feeling something consistent in your life by volunteering. “Volunteers live longer, are less depressed and have enhanced feelings of well-being.”
Get High on Chocolate: A study found that depressed people tend to consume more chocolate. The question is why? The answer: chocolate can act as a relaxant and tranquilizer, even the “smell of chocolate can slow down brain waves” to help you feel calmer. If you’re trying to stay away from this sweet goodness (I always have a hard time resisting a Dairy Milk at a checkout line), consider getting some coco beans and having them in a jar to enjoy that chocolaty smell! I once took clients to see a house where the owner had sprinkled coco beans near the front door so as soon as you walked up to the house you smelt chocolate. My clients bought the house so maybe that had something to do with them liking the place…
For more tips and details on things that can improve your sense of happiness, check out the full article here: http://ow.ly/sdyPB. By implementing more than one of these ideas you’ll have an overall enhanced benefit from your incremental efforts and hopefully be happier in 2014! Good luck.