Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Be Happier

It's harder than you think.

Studies show that we all have a fairly stable baseline for long-term happiness.
In other words, regardless if something amazing or something tragic happens to you, within a few months, you will tend to return to roughly the same level of happiness as before.

That's really great news if you're happy with your current overall level of happiness.
However, if you, like most of us, wish you could have more long-term happiness, what can you do?

Research has found that one of the most effective ways of increasing your happiness level boils down to one word:  gratitude.
There's a study on gratitude written about in Robert Emmon's book, Thanks!:  How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.  Emmons took 200 people, split them up into three groups and asked each of them to make a list every week for ten weeks.
  1. The first group was asked to list five things in their life they were grateful for.
  2. The second group was asked to list five hassles in their life that annoyed them.
  3. The third group was asked to list five things that had an impact on them.
Those in the gratitude group were significantly happier than those in the other two groups.  They felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the upcoming week, had less physical complaints and also spent more time exercising.

I try as much as possible to keep a gratitude journal.  I used to jot a few things down everyday in my journal that I was grateful for, but lately, I've been putting them in this pretty neat app I found.

It looks like this, and also has inspiring quotes and a place to put your own photos:

My challenge for you today- jot down three things that you are grateful for.  It only takes a second, it helps remind you of the positive things in your life, and it can increase your overall happiness.

What are three things you are grateful for today?

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