to Cultivate Happiness
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand;
gratitude brings joy
and laughter into your
life and into the lives of those around you.”
People are happiness seekers. We want to be happy and yet happiness eludes many of us. We say to ourselves, “I’ll be happy if I get that new car” or “I’ll be happy when I re-do the kitchen.” While these new things will increase our happiness for a time, their novelty wears off and we go back to our baseline.
However, there are concrete practices we can incorporate in to our lives, here and now, that will help make us happier in both the short- term and long-term. Here are 6 Habits of Happiness Worth Cultivating from The Greater Good Science Center:
- Pay Attention. People who notice what is happening around them, what they are feeling, how their body is responding, and what they are thinking, are less likely to be hostile or anxious. This mindfulness pays off in another way; people who are mindful also have stronger immune systems.
- Keep Your Friends Close. It doesn’t matter how many
friends a person has, but it is important to nurture relationships. Spend time with those closest to you. Not all of us have had good experiences early on, and so we may not have learned how to have supportive relationships. Psychotherapy and counseling can help you learn to cultivate close relationships that can nurture happiness.
- Give Thanks. People are more optimistic, in better health,
and more satisfied with life when they express gratitude regularly. There really is something to the old adage: Count Your Blessings. According to researcher, Sonja Lyubormirsky, it is important write down three things that went well during the week using the following format:
- Title the event
- Write down exactly what happened; what you said, what other people said
- Include how you felt at the time and later
- Write in your style, with as much detail as you like, not worrying about grammar or spelling.
- Let Go of Grudges. When we find a way to let go of our grudges toward someone who has hurt or wronged us, we feel better. In fact, we are able to experience more positive emotions, feel closer to others, and feel better about ourselves. All terrific for our well-being. Some ways of letting go of anger and resentment include keeping a journal or writing a letter. Psychotherapy and counseling can help, too.
- Get Regular Exercise.Need a quick fix of happiness? Exercise. Of all these ideas, exercise is probably the best instant happiness booster of all. Over time, exercise improves self-esteem and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Practice Kindness.We feel good when we’re kind to others. A win-win situation. In fact, altruism lights up the same pleasure centers of the brain as sex and food! And did you know that kindness is contagious?
Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book, The How of Happiness, adds a few more. Always good to have more options to choose from to find the ones that best fit for you. Here are a few ideas from Dr. Lyubomirsky’s research findings:
- Do Engaging Activities. Find your flow at work and at home. Do activities that are challenging and absorbing, where you “lose yourself.”
- Cultivate Optimism. Practice looking at the bright side of a situation. You can even keep a journal where you write about the best possible life for yourself.
- Commit to Your Goals. Choose one to three things that are meaningful to you and devote time and energy to work on them.
I have years of experience helping people to cultivate happiness in their lives. Contact me for more information.
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If you have any questions, need more information, or would like to make an appointment, you can call me at 301-279-7779, email me at [email protected], or use the form below.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker • Over 15 years of experience • Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist and Supervisor • Member of The Greater Washington Society of Clinical Social Work • Member of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy • Member of Clinical Social Work Association • Member of National Association of Social Workers
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