“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.” ~ Elbert Hubbar
Happiness is one aspiration all people share. No one wants to be sad and depressed. We’ve all seen people who are always happy – even amidst agonizing life trials. I’m not saying happy people don’t feel grief, sorrow or sadness; they just don’t let it overtake their life. The following are 21 things happy people make a habit of doing:
1. Appreciate Life
Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Choose Friends Wisely
Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.
3. Be Considerate
Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.
4. Learn Continuously
Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.
5. Creative Problem Solving
Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.
6. Do What They Love
Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.
7. Enjoy Life
Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.
Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)
Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.
Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.
11. Invest in Relationships
Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.
12. Keep Their Word
Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.
Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.
14. Mind Their Own Business
Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.
See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.
16. Love Unconditionally
Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.
Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.
18. Be Proactive
Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.
19. Self Care
Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.
20. Self Confidence
Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.
21. Take Responsibility
Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.
Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.
Most of all: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.
original post: Global One
Ever notice that the harder you try to stop thinking about something, the harder it is to forget? That cruel thing your teenage son said this morning, that worrisome test result the doctor mentioned, that donut in the office kitchen—banish the thought! Except that unfortunately, it seems that the more effort you put into avoiding that thought, the faster it pops right back up in your consciousness.You're not the only one who feels that way, says Harvard University psychologist Daniel Wegner, author of White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts: Suppression, Obsession, and the Psychology of Mental Control. His research has shown that trying very hard not to think about something almost guarantees that we will think about it.
It seems paradoxical, but in fact it makes sense. When you are actively avoiding a thought, one part of your brain is busily working to keep the upsetting thought at bay. It's searching out distractors—something else to focus on that will protect you from the idea you're trying to avoid.
At the same time, another part of the mental machinery has to keep checking to make sure that the job's being done properly. Inadvertently, this monitoring process calls attention to the unwanted thought, and makes you more vulnerable to the very ideas you're fleeing from.
"The funny thing is that when you're trying not to think about things, you have to remember what it is you aren't thinking about," says Wegner. "That memory, that part of your mind that's trying to keep it fresh, in a way is going to then activate thought."
In a sense, vigilantly struggling not to think about something or someone forces part of your brain to be on guard for that thought. Holding it there, even subconsciously, keeps the thought alive, and sometimes it escapes out of the prison it's being kept in and erupts into your active thoughts. This is mostly likely to happen when you're under stress, mentally overwhelmed or just plain exhausted.
"People have the intuition that you shouldn't think about a secret in front of the people you're trying to keep it secret from, because you might blurt it out. But keeping it a secret keeps it on the front burner of your mind," says Wegner.
It's a lot like trying to fall asleep, or forcing yourself to relax. The harder you try to nod off, the more likely it is you'll stay wide awake. If you try too hard to relax, you may get more anxious and wound up. The same problem crops up with concentration—trying to focus on something just makes distractions like your sneezing officemate or that annoying fluorescent light—fixture hum even more frustrating. In these cases, struggling for control only makes it worse.
"There are a whole range of cases when we become desperate to control our minds," he says. "The more we try to control them, the more they do what they want."
The answer: don't try so hard to control your thoughts! Instead, see if you can't get your secret preoccupation out in the open. Find a confidante to whom you can confess the idea—or perhaps write about it. Probably, says Wegner, you'll get bored of it fairly quickly, and the pesky thought will die away of its own accord.
Or, instead of following the impulse to get rid of it, says Wegner, just go with it. If you have a song in your head, trying to get rid of it is a great way to make sure it comes back. In this paradoxical therapy, you do the opposite of the thing you want to do. And that, he says, is what ends up being the cure.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - More children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) now than were a decade ago, according to new research from a large California health plan.
It's not clear what's behind that trend, researchers noted. Possible explanations include better awareness of the condition among parents and doctors or improved access to health care for kids with symptoms, according to Dr. Darios Getahun, the study's lead author.
Prior research has also shown an increasing trend in ADHD diagnoses, according to Getahun, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group in Pasadena.
However, his team had strict criteria for determining which kids had ADHD, requiring a clinical diagnosis and prescriptions for ADHD medications. Past studies have relied on parent and teacher reports alone, Getahun noted.
In an analysis of Kaiser Permanente medical records, researchers found the proportion of five- to 11-year-olds diagnosed with ADHD increased from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010.
Consistent with past research, white children were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than black, Hispanic and Asian kids, and boys were more likely to have the condition than girls.
On average, children were diagnosed when they were between eight and a half and nine and a half years old. Hispanic youth tended to receive a diagnosis at a later age than other kids - which could put them at a disadvantage, Getahun noted.
"One thing which is very important in ADHD is parents' awareness... and timely diagnosis of the disease is very important so the treatment is effective," he told Reuters Health.
"If you diagnose the child early when the disease occurs, the child may function better in school and also socially," said Getahun.
One study published last year found Icelandic kids who got early ADHD treatment did better on standardized tests than those who didn't get medication until they were preteens (see Reuters Health story of June 25, 2012: http://reut.rs/KXoQfY).
Common medications used to treat ADHD include stimulants such as Vyvanse, Ritalin and Concerta.
Not all kids with ADHD need medication - some get better with behavioral therapy or extra help at school. ADHD drugs can come with side effects, including appetite loss, sleep problems and stomach aches.
Just under five percent of more than 840,000 kids were diagnosed with ADHD during the entire study period, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Parental reports suggest that closer to one in ten kids and teens has been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and rates vary by state - from 5.6 percent of kids in Nevada to 15.6 percent of North Carolina youth.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/PogxGc JAMA Pediatrics, online January 21, 2013.
Relationship intimacy works kind of like a ladder. You both start at the bottom, making low-cost bids for emotional intimacy.
These bids for intimacy include holding hands, touching, and sharing some softer feelings. If these bids are responded to well by your partner, you go up the ladder, toward higher-cost bids. These bids have more vulnerability attached to them, like expressions of love, commitment, bonding, and attachment.
Here’s 7 ways to increase your intimacy, and go up the ladder together:
1. Get to know something new about your partner. Ask him/her what their dream is for themselves five years from now.
2. Schedule a regular time each week to talk about how the partnership is going, almost like a “State of the Union” meeting.
3. Schedule time to do your partner’s favorite outing together.
4. Tell your partner what you sincerely like about their favorite outfit. Everyone wants to feel attractive/admired.
5. What is your partner’s favorite childhood memory? Find out the story behind this memory.
6. Find out what makes your partner feel most admired and special.
7. Watch for your partner’s bids for attention/intimacy, and make sure you acknowledge those bids as best you can.
These are all easy ways to start going up that emotional ladder. Try it out, and see how your connection becomes closer in just a short time.
Chakras, in some Hinduist traditions and other belief systems, are centers of Prāṇa, or life force, the vital energy of our body. Chakras correspond to vital points in the physical body.
Here is a quick guide to the 7 Chakras
1. Root Chakra - Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded.
Location: Base of spine in tailbone area.
Emotional issues: Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food.
2. Sacral Chakra - Our connection and ability to accept others and new experiences.
Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel and 2 inches in.
Emotional issues: Sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, sexuality.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra - Our ability to be confident and in-control of our lives.
Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area.
Emotional issues: Self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem.
4. Heart Chakra - Our ability to love.
Location: Center of chest just above heart.
Emotional issues: Love, joy, inner peace.
5. Throat Chakra - Our ability to communicate.
Emotional issues: Communication, self-expression of feelings, the truth.
6. Third Eye Chakra - Our ability to focus on and see the big picture.
Location: Forehead between the eyes. (Also called the Brow Chakra)
Emotional issues: Intuition, imagination, wisdom, ability to think and make decisions.
7. Crown Chakra - The highest Chakra represents our ability to be fully connected our spiritually.
Location: The very top of the head.
Emotional issues: Inner and outer beauty, our connection to spirituality, pure bliss.
Feeling stressed? Of course you are. You have too much on your plate, deadlines are looming, people are counting on you, and to top it all off, you still have holiday shopping to do. You are under a lot of pressure -- so much that at times, you suspect the quality of your work suffers for it. You find yourself forgetting things, your thinking lacks clarity, and your creative juices refuse to flow.
This is life in the modern workplace. It is more or less impossible to be any kind of professional these days and not experience frequent bouts of intense stress. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren't is not whether or not you suffer from stress, but how you deal with it when you do. In the spirit of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, here are nine scientifically-proven strategies for defeating stress whenever it strikes.
1. Have Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is, in essence, cutting yourself some slack. It's being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding -- without harsh criticism or defensiveness. Studies show that people who are self-compassionate are happier, more optimistic, and less anxious and depressed. That's probably not surprising. But here's the kicker: They are more successful, too. Most of us believe that we need to be hard on ourselves to perform at our best, but it turns out that's 100 percent wrong. A dose of self-compassion when things are at their most difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance by making it easier for you to learn from your mistakes. So remember that to err is human, and give yourself a break.
2. Think About the "Big Picture"
Anything you need or want to do can be thought of in more than one way. For instance, "exercising" can be described in big-picture terms, like "getting healthier" -- the why of exercising -- or it can be described in more concrete terms, like "running two miles" -- the how of exercising. Thinking big picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge, because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose. Something that may not seem important or valuable on its own gets cast in a whole new light. So when staying that extra hour at work at the end of an exhausting day is thought of as "helping my career" rather than "answering emails for 60 more minutes," you'll be much more likely to want to stay put and work hard.
3. Rely on Routines
If I ask you to name the major causes of stress in your work life, you would probably say things like deadlines, a heavy workload, bureaucracy, or your terrible boss. You probably wouldn't say "having to make so many decisions," because most people aren't aware that this is a powerful and pervasive cause of stress in their lives. Every time you make a decision -- whether it's about hiring a new employee, about when to schedule a meeting with your supervisor, or about choosing rye or whole wheat for your egg salad -- you create a state of mental tension that is, in fact, stressful. (This is why shopping is so exhausting -- it's not the horrible concrete floors, it's all that deciding.)
The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make, by utilizing routines. If there's something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day. Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night. Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress. In fact, President Obama, who assuredly knows a great deal about stress, mentioned using this strategy himself in a recent interview:
"You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. .. You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can't be going through the day distracted by trivia." -- President Obama, Vanity Fair
4. Take Five (or 10) Minutes to Do Something You Find Interesting
If there were something you could add to your car's engine, so that after driving it a hundred miles, you'd end up with more gas in the tank than you started with, wouldn't you use it? Even if nothing like that exists for your car just yet, there is something you can do for yourself that will have the same effect -- something interesting. It doesn't matter what it is, so long as it interests you. Recent research shows that interest doesn't just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy. And then that replenished energy flows into whatever you do next.
Keep these two very important points in mind: First, interesting is not the same thing as pleasant, fun, or relaxing (though they are certainly not mutually exclusive). Taking a lunch break might be relaxing, and if the food is good it will probably be pleasant. But unless you are eating at the hot new molecular gastronomy restaurant, it probably won't be interesting. So it won't replenish your energy.
Second, interesting does not have to mean effortless. The same studies that showed that interest replenished energy showed that it did so even when the interesting task was difficult and required effort. So you actually don't have to "take it easy" to refill your tank.
5. Add Where and When to Your To-Do List
Do you have a to-do list? (If you have a "task" bar on the side of your calendar, and you use it, then the answer is "yes.") And do you find that a day or a week (or sometimes longer) will frequently pass by without a single item getting checked off? Stressful, isn't it? What you need is a way to get the things done that you set out to do in a timely manner. What you need is if-then planning (or what psychologists call "implementation intentions").
This particular form of planning is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task (e.g., "If it is 4 p.m., then I will return any phone calls I should return today") can double or triple your chances of actually doing it.
So take the tasks on your to-do list, and add a specific when and where to each. For example, "Remember to call Bob" becomes "If it is Tuesday after lunch, then I'll call Bob." Now that you've created an if-then plan for calling Bob, your unconscious brain will start scanning the environment, searching for the situation in the "if" part of your plan. This enables you to seize the critical moment and make the call, even when you are busy doing other things. And what better way is there to cut down on your stress than crossing things off your to-do list?
6. Use If-Thens for Positive Self-Talk
Another way to combat stress using if-then plans is to direct them at the experience of stress itself, rather than at its causes. Recent studies show that if-then plans can help us to control our emotional responses to situations in which we feel fear, sadness, fatigue, self-doubt, or even disgust. Simply decide what kind of response you would like to have instead of feeling stress, and make a plan that links your desired response to the situations that tend to raise your blood pressure. For instance, "If I see lots of emails in my Inbox, then I will stay calm and relaxed," or, "If a deadline is approaching, then I will keep a cool head."
7. See Your Work in Terms of Progress, Not Perfection
We all approach the goals we pursue with one of two mindsets: what I call the "Be-Good" mindset, where the focus is on proving that you have a lot of ability and that you already know what you're doing, and the "Get-Better" mindset, where the focus is on developing your ability and learning new skills. You can think of it as the difference between wanting to show that you are smart versus wanting to get smarter.
When you have a "Be-Good" mindset, you expect to be able to everything perfectly right out of the gate, and you constantly (often unconsciously) compare yourself to other people, to see how you "size up." You quickly start to doubt your ability when things don't go smoothly, and this creates a lot of stress and anxiety. Ironically, worrying about your ability makes you much more likely to ultimately fail.
A "Get-Better" mindset, on the other hand, leads instead to self-comparison and a concern with making progress -- how well are you doing today, compared with how you did yesterday, last month, or last year? When you think about what you are doing in terms of learning and improving, accepting that you may make some mistakes along the way, you experience far less stress, and you stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.
8. Think About the Progress That You've Already Made
" Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work." This is what Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer refer to as "The Progress Principle" -- the idea is that it's the "small wins" that keep us going, particularly in the face of stressors.
Psychologically, it's often not whether we've reached our goal, but the rate at which we are closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to end up that determines how we feel. It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you've accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.
9. Know Whether Optimism or Defensive Pessimism Works for You
For many of us, it's hard to stay positive when we've got assignments up to our eyeballs. For others, it isn't just hard -- it feels wrong. And as it turns out, they are perfectly correct -- optimism doesn't work for them.
It is stressful enough to try to juggle as many projects and goals as we do, but we add a layer of stress without realizing it when we try to reach them using strategies that don't feel right -- that don't mesh with our own motivational style. So what's your motivational style, and is "staying positive" right for you?
Some people think of their jobs as opportunities for achievement and accomplishment -- they have what psychologists call a promotion focus. In the language of economics, promotion focus is all about maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities. For others, doing a job well is about security, about not losing the positions they've worked so hard for. This prevention focus places the emphasis on avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibilities, and doing what feel you ought to do. In economic terms, it's about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you've got.
Understanding promotion and prevention motivation helps us understand why people can work so differently to reach the same goal. Promotion motivation feels like eagerness -- the desire to really go for it -- and this eagerness is sustained and enhanced by optimism. Believing that everything is going to work out great is essential for promotion-focused performance. Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance -- the need to keep danger at bay -- and it is sustained not by optimism, but by a kind of defensive pessimism. In other words, the prevention-minded actually work best when they think about what might go wrong, and what they can do to keep that from happening.
So, do you spend your life pursuing accomplishments and accolades, reaching for the stars? Or are you busy fulfilling your duties and responsibilities -- being the person everyone can count on? Start by identifying your focus, and then embrace either the sunny outlook or the hearty skepticism that will reduce your stress and keep you performing at your best.
Put some or all of these strategies for fighting stress, and you will see real changes not only in the workplace, but in every area of your life. With the holidays around the corner, you might want to work on creating a few if-thens for dealing with the relatives, too. "If I'm about to lose my mind, then I'll have some more eggnog" works wonders for me.
This post appeared originally on HBR.org
For more science-based strategies you can use to reach your goals and get happier and healthier, check out Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.
Trying to figure out where you go wrong when it comes to reaching your goals? Check out the free Nine Things Diagnostics.
For more by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., click here.
Arthur H. Belmont, LMFT
has over 20 years of experience working with children, teens and adults who are struggling with relational, emotional or behavioral issues.