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Secrets to Happiness
You probably already know a lot of things that will not bring you long-term happiness: money, ice cream, new shoes. But what can you do to brighten up your life? According to the AARP magazine, here are 10 suggestions:
Choose the right place to live. It should not be a surprise that being around happy people makes you happy. And some places are just happier than others. For example, in the United States, happy people congregate in the Pacific Northwest and on the water. Even if you don’t want to move to Seattle, look for a neighborhood with sidewalks, green spaces and other areas that encourage social interaction.
Save money. Worrying about money is a serious impediment to happiness, and financial security brings peace of mind. So watch what you spend, and save as much as you can.
Don’t waste your morning. Starting the day off right can make you more productive and give you a sunnier outlook. Get a good night’s sleep so you wake well-rested, then have breakfast and get at least 30 minutes of exercise.
Watch less TV. According to a study by National Geographic, the happiest people watch less than an hour of TV a day. Instead, spend your time connecting with real people, pursuing a hobby or reading.
See your friends regularly. Spending as much time as possible with your friends and family (the ones you like) makes you happier. And if your friends are happy people, it makes you happy too. A Harvard study showed that each unhappy person in your social group decreases your happiness by 7 percent. But each happy friend increases your happiness by 9 percent.
Marry well. Study after study shows that people who are happy in their marriage or in a committed relationship are at least twice as likely to be happy as unmarried people. And being in an unhappy marriage or committed relationship can actually harm your health.
Go to church. People who belong to a faith community and attend services more than once a week live up to seven years longer than their less-religious counterparts. And it doesn’t matter what faith community, so look around until you find something that works for you.
Make your place. Create a spot in your home that showcases things that make you happy and of which you are proud – awards, photos, memorabilia, etc. When you go into that room, you receive an automatic infusion of happiness.
Get a pet. People who own pets feel less stress, and stress leads to unhappiness. Studies show that pets can help lower blood pressure, promote self-esteem and make you feel loved. Plus, walking the dog is good exercise.
Volunteer. Helping others makes you more appreciative of the good things in your life, whether you donate money or whether you donate time. In fact, a Brazilian researcher discovered that altruism causes your brain to feel the same kind of pleasure caused by sugar and cocaine.