Ever wonder what people do to stay happy? We all want to be happy, it is one of the greatest feelings you can achieve, but maintaining that happiness can be a difficult pursuit. Life is filled with daily stresses and anxieties that can quickly wipe away a smile.
But we've all encountered those that seem to have it figured out. They always have a smile on their face, and walk through the world with a consistent positive outlook. But what exactly makes that person different?
Well, like any aspect of life, there are certain habits that affect the way we act and feel. Some habits seem obvious, others are proven by science. The studies linked to the science of happiness are always interesting. Most universities offer a course in "The Science of Happiness" in their psychology departments, and they continue to be highly attended. If you are interested in learning more about a course in "The Science of Happiness," UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center offers a free, eight-week online course. While genetics account for about 50 percent of happiness, research has proven that up to 40 percent of happiness depends on our habits and activities.
To discuss what exactly those habits and activities are, I chatted with Dr. Chris Aiken, an Instructor in Clinical Psychiatry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Director of Mood Treatment Center. He discussed that there are psychological strengths which lead to happiness on a genetic basis, such as, optimism, humor, gratitude, spirituality, flexible thinking, etc.
But, there are also habits that are proven to be more prevalent in happier people. "Extremely happy people engage in regular activity which connects them to other people to a cause outside themselves," explains Dr. Aiken. "It doesn't have to be a grand cause-the brain is just as happy to improve a local playground as it is to find a cure for cancer. What matters is that the cause is meaningful to you and helps you get you out of your own head."
Genuinely happy people find meaning. It does not necessarily have to be in a spiritual sense (though that does help), but it is a way to get out of your own head and see beyond the daily stresses and anxieties that often bring you down.
"Happy people also take time to savor life's pleasures," insists Dr. Aiken, "as well as time for sleep, exercise and healthy eating."
-Catarina Cowden, The Active Times
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