Don't Worry, Be Happyby Cindy Sherwin on 04/02/13
Now that spring is here, it's a lot easier for most of us to be happy. The sunshine and warmer days, the foliage popping out, and seeing neighbors who have been cooped up all winter, all contribute to cheerier outlooks.
According to an article in AARP magazine, there are ten factors that contribute to our overall happiness:
1. Where you live - There's a well-being index that I found online that shows which parts of the country, and even communities, have more potential happiness. In the AARP article, they say that people are generally happiest in sunny areas, in the Pacific Northwest (an oxymoron?) and on the water. Well, two out of three. . .
2. Financial security - It goes without saying that money issues weigh heavily in the happiness quotient. The thrill of buying something new goes away quickly, but financial security feels good forever. The article suggests paying down a mortgage, saving for a rainy day, pay with cash, and invest in adequate health insurance. (I'm sure they meant to say long term care insurance too!)
3. Get lots of sleep and eat a good breakfast.
4. Watch less TV - Apparently the happiest people watch less than an hour a day. There is more authentic happiness in being with family and friends, or in hobbies.
5. Speaking of friends - get a daily dose. Having a strong social network is important, and be sure that network includes happy friends because that adds to your own happiness quotient.
6. Be in a committed relationship - Easier said than done, but the outcome is less stress, living longer, and having fewer diseases. Married people are twice as likely to be happy than non-married.
7. Having a faith community - People who regularly attend their house of worship are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, have less stress, and have a built in social network (see #5).
8. Create happy space in your home - Have a wall or area where you display treasures that make you smile every time you walk by. It could be family photos, awards, mementos, or whatever makes you feel good.
9. Have a pet - In a quoted study, pets were more effective than a spouse or friend in easing the effects of stress.
10. Have a passion for giving - Giving feels good and stimulates pleasure centers in the brain. It doesn't have to be money either, it could be volunteering your time at a school, a cancer center, a senior center.
So there you have it, now go and be happy!