slides: 10 Ways to Be Happier
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
People do not get bored with happy memories as they do with material objects, according to Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. With that thought, go buy some memories!
Local happiness hook-up: Consider a trip to the movies at the Avon Cinema or cuddle up with your partner at the Cable Car Cinema. Check out some ideas on how to spend a day with the family and the guys this summer.
Photo: Tetra Pak/flickr
Give To Others
Local happiness hook-up: Look into volunteering for the RI Food Bank or the RI Coalition for the Homeless, serve as a caller on the Samaritans of Rhode Island hotline, help out at the Animal Rescue League, lend a hand at Hasbro Children's Hospital, and look out for the many other organizations opening their arms to volunteers. Also note that being thankful--a motivator for giving back--also boosts one's mood!
Photo: RI Food Bank
Just five minutes of exercise in natural settings boosts self-esteem and mood, according to the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Summer is the perfect time to revel in the outdoors.
Local happiness hook-up: You don't have to be hard-core to get exercise outdoors, and you don't have to be in the suburbs, either. Right in Providence, Roger Williams Park offers a beautiful stroll through hundreds of acres of trees and ponds, while other waterfront havens like India Point Park also offer themselves up to explorers. Plenty of concerts, beaches, and WaterFire nights await those who understand the meaning of fresh air. You might also consider exploring Rhode Island's best communities or discover neighborhood goodies through Walk Score.
Get a Pet
Pets make us happier and healthier, providing social, psychological, and physical support to their owners, according to research.
Local happiness hook-up: Consider adopting an animal from RI SPCA. Plus, you can get that green exercise in one of the Ocean State's many dog-friendly parks. For starters, try Gano Street Dog Park. For general park areas, remember to check the rules on if dogs must be on a leash.
Photo: Jim Whimpey
If anyone should know a lot about happiness, the smiling Dalai Lama would. The Dalai Lama and researcher Richard Davidson opened the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds to conduct research on the mind's healthy qualities. And there is no surprise in this finding--meditation has good effects. Meditation is all about being in the moment with your breathing. Various studies listed on the site have found that meditation has positive effects on one's mental health, improving response to stress, empathy, social connectedness, and you guessed it, positive emotions!
Local happiness hook-up: Anyone can meditate anywhere--traveling on a RIPTA bus or at a center, with others or alone. Learn more here.
Find Your Flow
Studies have shown that living in the moment are vital to being more positive. The "flow" consists of those magical moments of absolute absorption when engaged in an activity so that time seems to pass by extra quickly. Even books have been written on flow. Flow can involve anything, from writing and photography to solving a mathematical proof and philosophizing.
Insufficient sleep is a no-no. It subtracts from being awake. And we all need to be awake to be happy! On a more serious note, lack of sleep can have a negative impact on teenagers' moods, according to Brown University researcher and professor Mary Carskadon.
Local happiness hook-up: Sleep in once in awhile, grab the sunscreen and treat yourself to a nap on the beautiful Rhode Island coastline--for luxurious peace and quiet, consider Ocean House, which was just named the #4 Resort in the US.
Stay In Touch
We humans are social creatures and need to maintain our connections. One study even suggests that meaningful conversations with others is important to happiness. Find ways to get out with friends and the happiness will be contagious!
Local happiness hook-up: Check out some of Rhode Island's best book clubs and iced coffee shops to start with. Try someplace new like Teas and Javas in Providence's Wayland Square. Or, pick a spot you love to visit but never get to, and discover a new coffee spot.
Photo: Teas and Javas/Alex and Ani Providence
Write About It
At the end of the day, remember the "Bridget Jones effect," which shows that keeping a journal is emotionally fulfilling. Write down what makes you thankful and remember to write down what made you feel good each day. Focus on the positive and find ways to address the negative aspects of your life.
Local happiness hook-up: You can get a beautiful handmade diary at Craftland and start putting your thoughts and feelings on paper.
No list of tips can be comprehensive, so make sure to notice what makes YOU happy! Hot chocolate, chamomile tea, Harry Potter, and a great many other wonderful things in this world have been known to work. There are plenty of resources out there on happiness as well, like those TED talks.
Happy happiness hunting!
- New Well-Being Index Numbers: How Happy is Rhode Island?
- NEW: RI 30th Happiest State in the US, Says Gallup