Monday, April 05, 2010

Ten Ways to Be Happier

It was a beautiful day on the Prairie today. I hung clothes outside for the first time this year.

Watching these hand embroidered pillowcases flap in the breeze gave me a real feeling of happiness. So much was right with that... beautiful handwork on linens, a lovely day that I could enjoy because I was off work, the feeling of accomplishment of a task completed.

Recently my friend, Mark, mentioned he keeps a list nearby I published in the fall of 2004 about ways to be happier. One of my keys to happiness is definitely to find joy in the simple things - like pillowcases flapping in a spring breeze. I'm blessed my mother taught me to be happy.

I went and looked up that piece I'd written about happiness. It's all still true. These tips are based on various happiness research. Dr. Seligman is the most famous of the researchers if you want to read more on your own.

How to be Happier
We are all born with a "set point" of happiness, but we now know that it is also a learned behavior and just because someone isn't born that way, they can be that way if they chose to be. Genetics determines about 50%.

Important in learning to be happy:
1. Meditation
2. Journaling (esp. gratitude)
3. Fake it till you make it. Faking happiness causes the same chemical reactions as BEING happy and eventually will create the happiness. Actions matter - act happy.
4. Surrounding yourself with friends and family is a huge factor in increasing happiness.
5. Having your own sense of self and no interest in keeping up with the Joneses is helpful.
6. Doing activities that put you in the "flow" where you lose sense of time and enjoy it, increases overall happiness. The more of those you have, the better off you are. Doing what you're best at.
7. Must have a capacity to love and be loved.
8. Altruism
9. Spirituality
10. Creativity

Damaging to happiness:
1. not forgiving - huge - the biggest stumbling block - the single biggest determining factor in someone's happiness level
2. materialism

1. Major health problems, such as loss of mobility, have no long term effect on people's general happiness. After about 90-180 days they return to their pre-incident level of daily happiness.
2. People are very bad at predicting what will make them happy. Better to trust human resilence than human prediction.
3. More choices you have the more likely you are to be unhappy. People feel with so many choices, there's no excuse for failure. Choices also make people question every decision.
4. Happiness comes mostly in daily little bits. People get thrills out of finding a quarter or getting an unexpected gift. The emotion actually makes them more generous, friendlier, flexible, creative and better at solving problems. Small bursts of this feeling caused radiologists to make more accurate diagnoses in one study.

It was good for me to be reminded of that piece. And I'm flattered that Mark keeps it nearby and has shared it with friends.

Well, time for me to get some rest. I was up until nearly 6 a.m. this morning, working on things all night long. I slept about four hours and got up and started again. I wanted to make good use of the day off today. I finished reupholstering a stool, and got some other things organized for the art show next month. The one thing I'm not finding much time to do is create, although I did spend a little time in the studio this morning.

I realized today how much I'm going to miss being able to work from home this spring. It was awfully nice to be able to have the washer running during the day and pop out to hang up clothes.

Well, it's half past midnight now and time for me to get some rest before my shortened work week starts. If only I didn't need sleep I could get even more done. But, alas, my body demands some rest. And it's going to be a busy couple of weeks as we prepare for the Apollo 13 anniversary events at the Cosmosphere. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago. Time does go by quickly.


Susannah said...

I really loved the line - I'm blessed my mother taught me to be happy. Quite profound! I realise my father taught me to be happy too. I don't think it is something people usually think about in that way. . . maybe they should. :-)

Patsy Terrell said...

We know that happiness is, at least partly, a learned behavior. It makes a Proust quote I love all the more meaningful - and I paraphase - Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy.