Friday, May 24, 2013

9 Simple Steps to Happiness:

Via ABC News and talked about during The Rush Limbaugh Radio Show these are 9 Simple Steps to Happiness. Interesting - what do you think?

Buy Some Bliss—ReallyFYI, you won't find it at the mall. "Purchasing things like televisions, clothes and coffee machines won't make you happier overall—but buying experiences maximizes happiness," says Michael Norton, PhD, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. Research shows that people who purchased concert tickets, a series of crochet lessons or simply a Tuesday night dinner out were happier than those who spent their money on tangible goods.

Get OlderHappiness dips when women are about 40 and comes roaring back as they approach 50, finds a study of 500,000 women and men in 72 countries. (For men the slump typically hits at 52.) Scientists haven't yet explained the bliss boomerang, but anyone familiar with what it's like to make dinner, field five PTA calls and pay 2,300 bills in one night might have a theory. "Women in their 40s tend to put themselves last among all the demands they face," says Vivian Diller, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City. "They get squeezed between the challenges of raising kids and caring for their aging parents, and may feel that life is passing them by."

Forget Self-ImprovementBasking in what's already great about yourself is a more effective route to joy than trying to fix what's not, says Willibald Ruch, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich who studies character strengths and happiness.

Make Tough Stuff WorkYes, even layoffs and broken bones can have silver linings. To use an extreme example, studies of women diagnosed with breast cancer found that the majority experienced numerous positive emotional changes, including new life priorities and more self-confidence—catalysts for happiness. "Not that we wish cancer on anyone, but it's often negative experiences that help us grow and learn, which is vital for being happy," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California in Riverside and author of The Myths of Happiness. When upheaval strikes, she says, consider how you have improved as a result.

Spend 21 Minutes Focusing on Your RelationshipAs anyone who has argued with his or her spouse about tackling the pile of mail knows, a good marriage takes effort and time. How about 21 minutes a year? Researchers at Northwestern University tracked the marital bliss of 120 couples. Half of them did a seven-minute exercise three times a year in which they pondered three questions: (1) How would a neutral third party view your recent marital spat? (2) Going forward, what obstacles stand in your way of thinking like this third party during arguments? (3) How might you succeed at thinking like the third party during conflicts—and how would it help your relationship?

Try a TearjerkerMaybe watching The Notebook isn't most people's idea of a euphoric night in, but a study from Ohio State University finds that the more sadness people experienced during a movie, the greater their reported feelings of happiness were after the flick. Three-tissue movies put us in a thoughtful mood, says study author Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, PhD, professor at Ohio State's School of Communications: "The sadness that you feel as a result of watching unfulfilled love, for instance, can spur you to think about your relationships—and appreciate what you have."

Love Your CommutePeople who walk or bike to the office may be happier than those who drive or take the bus, finds a 2012 study of 800 people in (where else?) Portland, Ore. The reasons are what you'd expect: You're in control of the timing, there's an endorphin rush from exercise and no traffic. But if you have to drive, you can still arrive at the office perky. "Commuting is actually a good time for built-in introspection and reflection," says Todd Kashdan, PhD, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Take Credit for GivingBy all means, donate to Doctors Without Borders. But consider doing closer-to-home good deeds, too: "While giving to charity brings more happiness than spending money on yourself, our research finds that doing things for people you know makes you happiest," Norton says. Gotta love the joy rush you get from the positive feedback.

Fake It Till You Feel ItWhen you're bummed out, the mere act of smiling can cheer you up. The reasons for this effect have yet to be pinpointed, but one study at the University of Kansas in Lawrence reveals that flashing a grin slows down your heart rate during stress and chills you out. And if you can't bear to smile? Sadness and the occasional bad mood are natural, too. No human can be happy 24/7, and maybe that's the happiest news of all.

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