Four Tips for Lasting Happiness

Sunshine AwardI love getting blog awards because it means that someone, somewhere, thinks I’m doing a good job. Today that someone is Debra Kristi, and she awarded me the Sunshine Award. Thank you!

If you haven’t been to Debra’s blog yet, be sure to check it out after you finish here 🙂 You can also find her on Twitter as @DebraKristi.

(Someone recently also awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. If it was you, please remind me in the comments so that I can make sure to give you a thank you and track back in an upcoming post.)

As you might imagine, this award comes with some rules, but since I’ve told you seven random facts about myself in a previous post, I’m going to break the rules again in a similar way to when I gave you 7 Tips for Increasing Creativity to celebrate my Kreativ Blogger Award.

Sunshine symbolizes happiness to me.

So, without further ado…

Marcy’s Four Tips for Lasting Happiness

Tip #1 – Fake it ‘till you make it.

Our actions influence our feelings. According to the psychological theory known as the facial feedback hypothesis, someone who’s forced to smile will actually begin to feel happier. (Studies have supported this theory.) This means that the next time you’re feeling blue, if you want to feel better faster, make a point of smiling.

A study of 60,000 adults, published in 2009 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also showed that only 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. This means that, no matter how bad things are, we have a lot of control over how we react to those circumstances and how we let them affect us.

Tip #2 – Surround yourself with happy people.

A study of 12,067 people by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that you have a 171% higher chance of gaining weight if one of your close friends gains weight. This effect had nothing to do with friends affecting food choices since the effect was seen even in close friends who lived far away from each other. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and one of the authors of the study, suggests the cause is a change in our perception of what’s acceptable.

It’s the same with happiness. Have you ever noticed how much worse you feel after spending the afternoon with someone who’s always complaining about their life? Compare that to how you feel after an afternoon with a friend who’s always positive and upbeat. Choose to spend more time with happy people and you will feel happier too.

Tip #3 – Figure out your happiness trigger.

A happiness trigger is something simple, fast, and inexpensive that can improve your mood. When I’m feeling down, I play very specific music. It has nothing to do with the lyrics and everything to do with the beat and attitude. And I play it loud. It works every time.

Your happiness trigger might be a walk, smelling the flowers in your garden, or a piece of dark chocolate. Start to pay attention to what fills you up with a swell of happiness, and use it strategically when you’re down.

Tip #4 – Focus on what you want to dominate your life.

As Qui-Gon told Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace (Star Wars Episode I), “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”

If you’re friends with Tameri Etherton on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that every day she posts a picture of something she’s thankful for. You can steal that idea, or you can do what I’ve started to do—every day choose one thing that you’re thankful for and write it down. It can be something small like a rainbow, or something big like finishing your novel or your spouse getting a raise at work.

You can also train your mind to “jump away” from unhappiness and to the good in your life. For example, every time your spouse does something that irritates you, think about one thing you love about them. For every part of your job you hate, find one that you enjoy or one reason why you’re thankful for having this particular job.

Now I get the pleasure of passing this award along.

I decided to give the Sunshine Award to people who’ve brought some sunshine into my life for the support they’ve shown me in the past month by commenting regularly on this blog. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much is all of you and the comments you leave.

Emma Burcart at Occasional Epiphanies

Kristy K. James at Living, Loving, Laughing

Stacy Green at Turning the Page

Louise Behiel at Journey of a Thousand Miles

Monique Liddle at Bends in the Road

Reetta Raitanen at The Dark Side has Chocolate

Diane Capri at Licensed to Thrill

What’s your best tip for happiness? Have you tried any of my tips?

REMINDER: Today is also the last day to enter to win the free critique. Visit Is Now Really the Best Time Ever for Writers? to find out how.

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