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7 Things That Will Make You Happy

Health & Wellness  (tags: Attitude, Body-Mind-Spirit, children, diet, environment, ethics, exercise, family, food, health, nutrition, prevention, risks )

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If you're happy and you know it, what's your secret? Researchers have uncovered plenty of factors, from genes to personal characteristics to life choices

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 6:18 am
Photo Credit: Netfalls, Shutterstock

Finding Happiness

If you're happy and you know it, what's your secret? Researchers have uncovered plenty of factors, from genes to personal characteristics to life choices, that seem to coincide with happiness and its longer-lasting cousin, well-being. Here are a few you might have some control over.

Get Culture

Men who enjoy art, ballet and other cultural activities feel happier and healthier, according to a May 2011 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. The result held even after researchers controlled for other happiness-influencing factors such as income. For men, physical activity, outdoor hobbies and volunteer work were also linked with happiness. The cheeriest women attended both church and sports events. Cause-and-effect isn't certain (maybe happier people take in more culture rather than the other way around), but the message is clear: It can't hurt to get out there.

Get a Dog (Or a Cat)

Pet owners are another group that tends toward greater happiness. A survey of pet-owners and non-pet-owners published in July 2011 online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who have dogs say their pets increase their self-esteem as well as their feelings of belonging and meaning. The research also found that pets had a similar ability as human friends to stave off feelings of rejection. In America, furry happiness boosters are all around: As of 2007, two-thirds of U.S. households had at least one pet.

Be Grateful

The power of positive thinking may really work, according to a 2010 paper reviewing 51 earlier studies on increasing happiness. The researchers, who detailed their work in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, found that people who get into the habit of writing down three good things that have happened to them every week show a significant rise in happiness. The review also found that study participants who wrote letters of gratitude to others reported a happiness boost that lasted for weeks. And no need for postage. Participants didn't even have to send the letters to get the boost though who knows, dropping that thank-you note in the mailbox might spread the joy around.

Cultivate Altruism

The same 2010 review found that giving back to others can pay happiness dividends. And a 2008 study published in the journal Science found that people who give money away rather than spending it on themselves get a happiness boost.

Not only that, but people who volunteer for selfless reasons live longer, according to a study published in August 2011 in the journal Health Psychology. Altruism is even linked to stronger relationships: A 2006 study found that the most altruistic people were also the most likely to have happy marriages.

Get Nostalgic

Social and energetic, extroverts are also the happiest personality type. It's not easy to blossom from wallflower to center of the party, but you can steal an extrovert's happiness trick: Viewing the past through rose-colored glasses.

Research published in June 2011 in the journal Personality and individual Differences found that extroverts owe their happiness advantage to their tendency to look back on the past with nostalgia. Savoring happy memories or putting bad ones in an optimistic light could help make life happier.

Have Sex

This may seem like a no-brainer, but satisfaction between the sheets seems linked to happiness in daily life. Post-menopausal women with more satisfying sex lives are also happier in general, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Likewise, newlyweds with neurotic personalities find that their anxieties are soothed when their sex lives are better, according research published in 2010 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Hugs and physical affection boost happiness in men, as well.

Don't Focus On It

Okay, you've got the animal shelter on speed-dial, and you're stocking up on stationary for thank-you notes. But be careful: A May 2011 study found that a hyper focus on happiness could paradoxically make people less happy.

"Wanting to be happy can make you less happy," study researcher Iris Mauss, an assistant professor in psychology at the University of Denver, told Live Science. "If you explicitly and purposely focus on happiness, that appears to have a self-defeating quality."

The study, published in the journal Emotion, found that women who valued happiness more or focused on it more exclusively had trouble actually achieving it. Perhaps these people set their happiness standards too high, Mauss said. Or they may be focusing on personal happiness at the expense of things that really make people happy, like relationships with friends and family.

It's not that trying to be happy is a lost cause, Mauss said, it's just that you may want to pursue activities that make you happy, rather than happiness itself.

By: Stephanie Pappas | Live Science | Senior Writer

Autumn S (151)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 6:18 am
Thanks, Kit :)

Tamara Hayes (185)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 11:10 am
I must be doing something right then! Thanks Kit for making us all a little happier! Noted, twittered and google shared.

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 12:21 pm
I have 5 I only need 2 more things to make me Happy - Johnny Depp & George Clooney!;)

Arielle S (313)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 12:31 pm
Great article! (Of course, you're willing to share those other two things, right, Yvonne?)

Tim C (2420)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 12:59 pm

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 1:30 pm
#8 - Care2 without any glitches! (as mentioned in other thread) :-)

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 1:33 pm
One thing at a time Arielle, one thing at a, hug a puppie..;)

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 3:27 pm
Thank you! I have a little plaque in my kitchen with these words: A grateful heart will always be happy. That short sentence is my motto. In addition, the opportunity to make a difference in the world and in the lives of loved ones in need of help as well as a career for which I have a passion expands my happiness. Of course, a life without love would be sad. Thankfully, I must say that I am blessed. Nevertheless, this article reminded me of other blessings.

Fiona O (565)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 7:06 pm
Earning enough Care 2 butterflies to be able to provide a snack for a seal makes me happy.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 7:29 pm

I'm about to be a grandma, that makes me smile everyday. I have the most adorable group of Care2 friends, bright, witty and full of love, and I get warm fuzzy cuddles from my fur babies. Life is good.

Julie F (68)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 8:50 pm

Billie C (2)
Tuesday April 2, 2013, 10:11 pm

Julia R (296)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 2:49 am
Some great tips in this article to bolster our happiness! I think that having a creative outlet because it demands our full focus and really engages our minds is a great way to achieve happiness, and I also support that wonderful idea of getting a pet as pets love us unconditionally and offer so much comfort! Writing down a list of things we should be thankful for is another great suggestion as it helps us to appreciate all the little miracles that we often overlook like just how pretty a tree is or a child's happy face! Looking back at wonderful memories is something that always makes me happy- especially looking at pictures of my daughter when she was young and remembering all the fun activities we did together- especially making crafts for the holidays and not only reading stories together but writing our own stories together and then enacting the stories! I think this article is spot on when it says, the less you think about being happy and just do a lot of activities that give you joy and make you laugh, then you will be happy a lot more often! Thanks Kit for this post.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 6:19 am
Choices in life

Ben O (171)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 9:23 am
"Living is not enough. One needs sunshine, freedom and a little flower"
(H.C. Andersen)
And, if I may add: -Art and music!

Helen Porter (39)
Thursday April 4, 2013, 12:33 am
Thank you, Kit.

I'm happy. If I were any happier I'd be manic. lol

These are indeed my golden years though I only have a little more than enough money,. Still I have everything I need and love for my simple, quiet life devoted to doing what I can to help others. Care2
is a good part of it.

I've always been a solitary and I like it that way.

If I were to win the lottery, after taking sensible provisions at the advice of professional, I'd probably give most of it to my daughter.

There really isn't anything I'd like to change about my life.


DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Friday April 5, 2013, 9:01 pm
Fascinating...oh, oh, the cat that owns me has just summoned me...dinner time...for her. Human servant must happily obey...

David Stanley (0)
Sunday April 7, 2013, 9:28 pm
This will make you happier I guarantee it; unless you don't like feeling cleaner, refreshed, energized, satisfied for helping the environment and grateful that you're saving money = by getting a Hand Held Bidet Sprayer. It will do all that and more by providing superior hygiene and cutting back on your toilet paper use. In fact with these you don't even need toilet paper anymore just a small towel to dry off just like when washing your hands. At

Helen Porter (39)
Wednesday April 10, 2013, 8:06 pm
Sorry, David, but I don't need to buy things to make me happy. I like things simple, not complicated. Happiness has never been high on my list of priorities. Happiness is a bi product of doing what one want's to do and doing it to the benefit of others. Happiness just grabs hold of you and covers you with kisses.

Thank you for the green star. I'm also sending you one,

Be Happy!
2 U
and yours,

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