Inc Magazine recently published an excellent article on happiness, and there’s some valuable takeaways for hardworking professionals that are struggling with keeping a smile.
From Inc’s complete list, I pulled what I believe to be the top 6 and most important routes to improving your level of contentment. Enjoy, and I hope you find your way to internal zen and overall good spirits.
1. Pamper yourself. A recent UK study showed that individuals are happier when they indulge in at least 10 minutes of comedy or relaxation each day. (This also includes indulging in a small, rich piece of chocolate if that’s your secret pleasure.)
Find a way to treat yourself after a long day of work. Remember that your health matters as well, so make sure your weekly “treat” doesn’t involve getting blotto at the bar or eating 10 chocolate bars all in one go.
2. Strive for experience, not stuff. Studies show that amassing “stuff” actually leads to greater sadness, likely due to smaller bank accounts and less room in your house. When we refer to aiming for experiences, the type of experience you should go for depends on your age. A study from the University of Chicago found that younger people tend to define happiness in terms of states of high arousal and achieve their bliss from doing extraordinary, uncommon things (ie. skydiving, remarkable vacations, expensive shopping trips).
In comparison, older people derive enjoyment from ordinary pleasures, such as an embrace from a loved one or a cold drink on a hot day. The difference? When people believe the time they have left in life is shorter, their threshold for happiness is lower.
3. Frequent, monogamous sex. Studies show that people who have frequent, high-quality sex with the same person show higher states of happiness than those who have no sex or irregular one-night stands with strangers. Cheaters: Sorry, this doesn’t work for you. The same study shows that extra-marital sex actually lowers overall happiness levels.
4. Choose unemployment versus a job you detest. If you are consistently going to work each day hating yourself, it’s time to throw in the towel. It might just be the kick in the shorts you need to find the next opportunity. In a study with over 262,000 people, those who were “very happy” in a job were 21X more likely to be satisfied with life in general while those who were “very unhappy” were 122% more likely to be unhappy. Interestingly, unemployed people are 88% more likely to be unhappy – as compares to the 122% working in jobs they hate. Do yourself a favour, and leave the toxic environment you’re stuck in.
5. Invest in friendships. Happify.com published an infographic citing more than a dozen studies as its source, sharing a wealth of data why strong social ties contributes to greater happiness. Invest in your friendships – they will be there for the rough patches, and also to lift you up after a long day in the office. Take a moment to send a text message or call a friend this evening to reconnect.
6. Take care of you. I think this is the most important suggestion on the list, because at the end of the day, you are what you eat. Studies show that eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and regular exercise helps the body feel energized and able to take on almost anything. I would suggest trying to avoid using electronic devices or watching television right before bed.
You could also try applying these three rules – avoid all soda (including diet), never eat fast food, and incorporate more vegetables and less bread into your daily menu.
Please feel free to share your thoughts about this!
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