I often wonder about the definition of happiness, as I’m sure most of us do. While there’s no one way to sum it up, research over the years has yielded interesting information on the things that make us happy. Here are some nuggets I have gleaned:
- Work for yourself: There’s evidence to show that self-employed people have higher contentment levels than those who have a “job,” even if they earn less than what they made as employees.
- Let food be your medicine: Buy the best quality ingredients you can afford. Cook them at leisure, present your food with flair, and eat it with care, in the company of those who nurture your spirits. There’s no greater happiness. (See: 7 Foods that Improve Your Mood)
- Toss out the “have tos”: Too often, we do things out of obligation or compulsion, at the cost of things we really want to do. But sometimes, it’s immensely freeing and satisfying to take the day off for your kids, rather than opting to get to work because you “have to.”
- Avoid meaningless talk: Though ‘chatterboxes’ and garrulous people might come across as happier, they aren’t as happy as those who hold fewer but more meaningful conversations.
- Surround yourself with positive energy: Be it objects in your home or the people with whom you keep company, try and be among those that make you feel comfortable and relaxed. As a corollary, try and weed out influences that sap your energy and sadden your heart.
- Get rid of the “If only…” mindset: Nothing dampens the spirits more than the feeling of regret. Why didn’t I pick up the phone/fight back/leave early…. Regret and guilt can suck you into a whirlpool of sadness. I cannot say it better than Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
- Take a walk! Just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise or walking daily can boost your feelgood levels within months, because walking boosts the happiness hormones! You’ll also be healthier.
- Simply let the days roll by! Studies show that most of us become happier as time goes by. So, you’re likelier to be happier at 52 than you were at 25.