Top 10 Ways to Increase Happiness.

Defined: In Western culture happiness is characterized by positive subjective appraisals and feelings. These subjective states include two key components: (1) a cognitive appraisal that one’s life is good, and (2) reports of frequently experiencing positive emotions and infrequently experiencing negative emotions (Diener, 2000).

Background: Motivational speaking is a $1 billion dollar industry.

Apx $600 million self-help books sold annually in US.

The State of Mental Health in America 2018 survey from Mental Health America.

16 million live with Major Depression

4.2 million live with an Anxiety Disorder

Tx may be necessary and these steps may be more beneficial for those stabilized.

People who are happy tend to live longer and healthier lives.

Optimists are 50% less likely to have physical problems such as heart disease and stroke. Pessimists 3x more likely to develop health problems. Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 5/2008.

Happiness leads to resilience.

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

There are countless things you can do. No right or wrong. This lists offers 10 methods in our opinion, but there are many more.

1. Start the day off in a level state. (Relax your nervous system and reduce anxiety). Meditation, relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices. If you start at an 8/10 not much room to go, but if you can start at a 1/2 (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008).

2. Gratitude List. (1) ‘three good things’ (increasing awareness of what is positive about one's life by writing down three good things that happened each day and their causes) and (2) ‘using signature strengths in a new way’ (identifying strengths and virtues and using one of these top strengths in a new and different way), increased happiness (λ 2 = 0.50; λ 2 = 0.42, respectively) and decreased depressive symptoms (λ 2 = −0.28; λ 2 = −0.26, respectively). (3) The ‘gratitude visit’ (writing down and delivering a letter of gratitude to someone who had been especially kind to you but who you had never properly thanked) produced significant positive changes for the period of 1 month. Effect sizes were found to be at least moderate for all three conditions. - Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson (2005)

The efficacy of numerous positive activities for improving well-being has now been tested empirically. Experimenters have prompted people to write letters expressing gratitude, to count their blessings , to perform kind acts , to cultivate their strengths , to visualize their ideal future selves , and to meditate . All of these practices are brief, self-administered, and cost-effective.

3. Exercise. (Walk, hike, run, lift weights, sports, etc).

4. Nourish your body. Eat right. Ex: Avoid chocolate at night. Cigarettes. Mind-altering substances that have rebound effects.

5. Redirect negative thoughts about self and others. Negativity produces more negativity. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t be so critical of yourself and others. Maintain and positive outlook and try to force yourself to be happy for the accomplishments of others and avoid a woe is me attitude. Restraint of thought and tongue.

6. Associate with happy/positive people.

7. Socialize. Increasing social support networks helps.

8. Volunteer. Helping others and acts of kindness/altruism take focus off of yourself and make you feel good. Gives a purpose. Numerous studies on this.

Good for overcoming grief/loss too.

9. Create a positive atmosphere. Changing environment and setting can help. Nature walks, look at ocean, stars. Listen to inspirational music, music that evokes happy memories and feelings. Reflect on positive memories if cannot change environmental conditions. Positive aromas. Pay close attention to good things that happen. Focus on the positive.

10. Make time for yourself (every day). Make time for the things that you enjoy. Anything…hiking, painting, walking, reading, taking a bath.