Are you happy? Do you know anyone who you would describe as happy?
Most humans, consciously or unconsciously, want to know the how of getting from Here to Happy.
Researchers tell us that people who rate themselves in the upper registers of ‘happy’ are more likely to stay well and feel better connected in their relationships. So what does it take?
Will money do the trick? Hardly. Do you know any people who have ‘lots of money’ and are truly joyful? The combination is not impossible, but I can assure you that it doesn’t just happen either.
Is youth the answer? Huh-uh. Studies show that older people see themselves as happier.
Are brains the sought-after commodity? Nope. Neither IQ nor education have any correlation with that elusive ‘happy’ zone.
The experts have been pretty specific in their research. So this is what they found:
1.About 50% of our ‘happiness’ is related to our genes.
2. Another 10-15% correlates with our economic status, our level of marital accord, and our health.
3. The remaining factors are comprised of factors over which we definitely have choices. Included are:
a. relationships and social interaction
b. employment and meaningful activities
d. being around other happy people
e. religion and spiritual community – People who gather together regularly with those who hold similar beliefs report higher levels of ‘happiness’.
Some of the pessimists among us might just look at that half-empty glass and pull out the ‘hopeless’ card. Don’t go there!
If you believe you are one of the folks who have a ‘negative-reflex system’, here are some things that you can choose to practice on a regular basis that have the potential of sending you in the direction of ‘happy’.
1. Keep a ‘thankful’ diary of everything you are grateful for. Update it regularly–like each morning or evening.
2. Volunteer. Helping others is deeply satisfying and gets your focus off of the more challenging aspects of your life.
3. Thank someone in your past or present who has made a significant impact on your quality of life.
4. Tune in to the coping strategies that seem to work best for you in putting you in a joyous and grateful state.
5. Root out your negative ‘thought habits’, reframe them, and replace the negatives with positives, feeding a new ‘thought habit’.
6. Exercise regularly, doing the activities you enjoy the most.
7. Eat good-quality fresh food and limit your use of processed food.
8. Live in a state of acceptance and gratitude.
9. Sleep well. The following may help: dark room, low noise, limit caffeine to earlier in the day, limit late-night forays into media. Having a calming wind-down routine before you head off for bed can help you build an excellent environment for quality sleep.
Not all of these items will work for everyone, so be your own researcher and learn what gets you from here to happy!
Excerpted from The Headliner, Summer 2012, Vol. XIX Issue 3.
This is the official publication for the Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon.