Tag Archives: happy
“Research shows that expressing gratitude makes you happier and healthier.”
The above phrase proudly welcomes you to Happier.com, neatly conveying the philosophy behind this new app combining a social gratitude journal with a positive community. Happier could be simply described as a thoughtful, positive spin on Twitter, but it’s truly much more than that. Designed to encourage users to express and appreciate what makes them happy in life, the app also acts as a head check for those moments when we forget what keeps us going every day.
“There is no way I can anticipate all the good things that are going to happen today.”
– Brian Narelle
The above phrase was the first thing that I saw after signing up for the app and checking out the Featured page. I was having a nothing-special day at work and it made me take a step back and think for a moment: what good things have happened today? I lost track after a dozen. Taking stock of the little things, the good things in our lives, seems like an easy thing, yet it’s just as easily forgotten. This app first and foremost helps internalize that recognition and jumpstart the feelings of gratitude that naturally springs forth.
This focus on gratitude is important.
Last Sunday, on the Oscars broadcast, Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey expressed himself in a most eloquent way. He said that he needs three things in life: someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and someone to chase. He says that he looks up to God, and in his words, “He has shown me that it is a scientific fact, that gratitude reciprocates.” Funny enough, science backs this statement up.
Research has defined gratitude as a social emotion that helps bind us to our communities and enhances relationships. Primatologists have observed behaviors that look remarkably like gratitude in chimpanzees, who are more likely to share food with peers who have recently groomed them. This begs the question: what is the physiological payoff for feeling grateful? The research suggests that you’ll feel more optimistic, better able to manage stress, and even more enthusiastic about exercise, leading to better sleep. If you don’t naturally gravitate toward expressing gratitude, there are simple fixes designed to set you on that path. One example is writing down the things that you are thankful for. Doing so on a regular basis can achieve remarkably similar benefits.
This brings us back to what Happier is all about: shaping our internal and external lives in small, gradual ways, toward a more grateful, and ultimately, happier form. The community centers around posts like you’d see on Twitter or Facebook, with a positive twist: little blurbs about what brings happiness to your life, thoughts on how to make today better by appreciating what’s already there, and advice to others on how to train yourself to actively seek out and acknowledge that which makes life worth living.
Friends – or anyone you find inspiring and interesting – will see your posts and “me too” them (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) and leave comments of encouragement and camaraderie. In turn, you can do the same for their happiness posts. The app keeps track of your milestones, encouraging you with every 5, 10, 50 moments of happiness that you share, incentivizing the process as it, internally, incentivizes your thought process toward a positive approach to experiencing life. This feedback loop of gratitude can truly work wonders for people, as evidenced just by my short time spent with the app.
The encouragement received from sharing even the tiniest bits of happiness in your day comes in the form of others seeing your moment and feeling happy themselves. Knowing that you’ve made someone smile inherently feels great. If you’re having a truly rough time and can’t think of anything to share, just browse through your friends’ experiences and something is sure to perk you up and brighten the day. When you think about it, that moment itself can be your happiness. Go ahead and share it, knowing you’re doing the same for someone else having a dark moment today!
This notion of positive feedback is the core of why Happier was created: being the social animals that we are, expressing gratitude for our lives will have others realizing what they’ve been taking for granted. This will only make us more grateful and happy for the positive emotions that we’re helping to spread. The science behind this idea backs up what we know in our hearts when we feel it: gratitude makes us happier and healthier people.
Give Happier a try at www.happier.com or download the app (currently only on Apple but coming soon to Android) for your mobile device. You’ll be wheeling through lists of positivity and brightness in no time. You don’t need the app to appreciate life’s small moments of grace, but it helps keep track of them in this fast paced world. Always remember that gratitude is not only good for you; it’s truly essential for the happiness of us all.
In the pursuit of happiness, many people hold the opinion that an improved body image would make them happier. With this for motivation, people hit the gym, start dieting, and look to make other lifestyle changes that will help them achieve the ideal body they desire.
While this is usually just fine, it’s worth noting that healthy and “fit” are not always the same thing, and focusing too much on a desired body image (instead just focusing on having a healthy body) can be quite damaging.
We all have different body types – different shapes, sizes, needs, deficiencies, etc. – and that means that while there might be an “ideal” version of your unique body, setting your sights on certain appearance may actually be counterproductive to your health and happiness.
To maximize looking and feeling good, it’s important to make it about YOU and your individual needs. Choose the diet that is right for you and your own chemistry, choose a workout regimen that fits with your life, and make sure your point of comparison is yourself!
Look for improvements in your own progress instead of comparing yourself to someone who isn’t you!
Making your efforts to slim down or get in shape about the desirable image of someone else’s body is not only unrealistic, it can also lead to unhealthy diets, overexertion, and in the long-term, disappointment when this ideal is unreachable – no matter how much progress you make.
If you want to be happy about your body, focus on your health first, and the “fit” version of your body will emerge. Some people are thin but terribly unhealthy, others are less thin, but in excellent health and the best shape of their lives. No two bodies will be exactly the same, so worry about your own.
If you want to be more muscular, thinner, etc., work toward that goal, but not with the image of a particular athlete, model, or celebrity in mind. Create the body you want out of the body you have, and do so with your health at the top of the priority list.
You may think that it’s about looks, but feeling good because of your healthy body will bring so much more happiness than an appearance.
So many of us think that happiness comes from accomplishments, monetary success, a star-studded career – all products of hard work and the climbing of various social ladders – and while these things can be fulfilling, they might be taking us away from other important components of happy life, namely our friends and families.
Studies show that personal relationships really do have some of the largest impact on overall happiness, as well longevity. Not spending enough time with loved ones was one of the most common regrets listed by people on their deathbeds, according to The Top Five Regrets of Dying by Bronnie Ware.
Compared to social status, wealth, and career achievements, having strong relationships with close friends and family has much, much larger impact on overall happiness. Harvard Psychology Professor Dan Gilbert says, “We are happy when he have family, we are happy when we have friends, and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”
This is a pretty stark reminder that maybe all of the attention we give to career goals and other “paths to happiness” are less important than we think, and we should be taking the time out of our busy lives to stay connected to the people that matter most.
I’ve put together twelve tips for putting the “HAPPY” back into Your “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” after the loss of a loved one. Check out my SEVENTH tip: Party! Surround yourself with friends and family so you can talk about your lost loved one in comfort. Celebrate their life while enjoying your holiday season.
We all know someone for whom the glass is always half-full, who knows how to make lemonade whenever life hands them lemons. These eternal optimists are often the happiest people around. The folks at SoulPancake wondered: why? Do their attitudes stem from lucky circumstance, or is there a scientific correlation between looking on the bright side and a life rich with happiness?
In their ongoing Science of Happiness series, SoulPancake created a video showcasing an experiment in positive focus. They’ve put the well-worn phrase, “look on the bright side,” to the test: does a focus on positive attributes influence a person’s overall happiness in life? The answer may surprise some, especially on the “half-empty” side of the fence.
“Psychologists have found that a substantial amount of your happiness in life is determined by your ability to focus on the positive,” says host Julian, before introducing the participants.
The experiment involved gathering a group of volunteers who experienced a significant and difficult life event in the past year. They were then given a test gauging current levels of happiness. A control group was asked to think about something they feel completely neutral about, while the variable group was asked to think about a recent time in life where they experienced something positive. Whether it was something they achieved, something that happened to them, or something they did for somebody else, the goal was to put them in a positive state of mind.
These people were asked to choose their biggest strength and tell a story that showed off that quality. One man shared an experience comforting a friend after his father’s death. Another told of how he used the doubts of others as fuel for motivation. One woman focused on her talent for helping young people who don’t like school to turn around and enjoy learning and growing, something she takes enormous pride in.
Afterward, the subjects were measured again, to see what effects the positivity experiment had on their happiness. There was an immediate difference.
The control group showed increases as high as 43% and drops as low as 31%, while the variable group, the ones focusing on the positive, had a much narrower range, increasing up to 18% and most importantly, dropping as little as 6%.
“So, maybe instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you should focus on your strengths,” says Julian.
The remarkable takeaway here is that by simply maintaining perspective on the positive aspects of yourself, you can literally achieve a higher overall level of measurable happiness in life!
People often fall into the rut of thinking that only outside, concrete developments in life affect our happiness – a promotion at work, a new relationship – but this study proves that what’s more important than events existing outside ourselves is how we engage with the world. When we come at life with a positive perspective, it makes a world of a difference.