Is there any other nation on earth that has established within its founding documents the right of its people to pursue happiness?
We Americans take the pursuit seriously. How much money is spent on alcohol and drugs in the pursuit of happiness? How much is spent on new cars, new homes, new clothes in the pursuit? How much time and energy is spent pursuing new lovers, new careers or new places all in the pursuit?
And yet, the joy, the contentedness, the at-ease feeling of happiness eludes so many. Therapists, pharmacists, ministers, priests and bartenders earn much of their living from listening to an endless litany of unhappiness.
When I think about happiness, I get a feeling as light as a balloon, as fresh as a springtime breeze, as innocent as a baby’s giggle. And yet, is something this sweet really impossible to attain?
No, it’s not.
According to U.C. Riverside psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, some fairly simple activities can significantly increase a person’s happiness. These activities are things that anyone can do.
Lyubomirsky and colleagues reviewed 51 studies on attempts to increase happiness and found five things that improved happiness. They are:
- Gratitude. Write a letter of thanks to someone who has helped you in some way. You’ll be surprised at how good that will make you feel.
- Optimism. Imagine an ideal future and describe it in a journal. This exercise, continued for a few weeks, can increase your happiness.
- Counting blessings. Focus on what’s right, instead of what’s wrong, in your life. Researchers found that people who write down good things that happened to them each week, showed significant boosts in happiness. Focusing on the good in your life helps you feel happy.
- Always play to your strengths. When people use their strengths – a good sense of humor, a talent for organizing, etc. – in new ways, their level of happiness increased.
- Practice kindness. People who help others report higher levels of happiness than those who don’t practice kindness.
So there you go, five activities that can actually increase your level of happiness. Try them, you might be surprised at how happy you feel.
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