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Old 08-05-2009, 08:54 AM   #1
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How to be happy

Interesting article found on CNN this morn. Some of these I do; some of these I need a little work on!

10 instant tips to be happier now

By Gretchen Rubin

(REAL SIMPLE) -- A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life.

As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.

"What do I want from life?" I asked myself. "Well...I want to be happy."

I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls; I was a writer, living in my favorite city.

I had friends; I had my health; I didn't have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk.

I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act? Real Simple: How to make positive changes in your life

I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that's the kind of thing that appeals to me.)

In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture.

If I followed all the advice, I wanted to know, would it work?

Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.


1. Don't start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry.

Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness. Real Simple: 34 low-cost, make-you-smile ideas

2. Do let the sun go down on anger.
I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime.

Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock.

Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I'm feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I'm feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective. Real Simple: Small, helpful gestures with big impact

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness.

The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.

People who do new things -- learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places -- are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well.

I often remind myself to "Enjoy the fun of failure" and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don't treat the blues with a "treat."
Often the things I choose as "treats" aren't good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day.

While it's easy to think, I'll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine...a pint of ice cream...a cigarette...a new pair of jeans, it's worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do.

You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn't automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help.

I've learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences.

For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.

7. Don't insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met.

When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they're satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision.

Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can't make a decision until they've examined every option.

Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they're often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy.
I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, "I'm just too tired to go to the gym"?

Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

9. Stop nagging.
I knew my nagging wasn't working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house.

Wrong.

If anything, more work got done.

Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging.

I hadn't realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new light bulb on the counter); using just one word (saying "Milk!" instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself.

Why did I get to set the assignments?

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You're born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that's that.

Although it's true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control.

Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won't take you a whole year.

***

After some reflection, I'd like to add a couple of my own:

--Be resilient. Learn to roll with life's punches, get back on the horse, etc. Learn that shit happens and don't sweat the small stuff (as long as I'm milking the cliches).

--Develop significant relationships with people. Close friends and family can be lifesavers, literally.
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:28 AM   #2
Trilby
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See? This is what is wrong with people. She's young (no hair dye) married to the "love of her life," has healthy children AND a job she loves AND lives in a city she loves and she's healthy AND has good friends?



she's not happy?

Cry me a river, stupid bitch.
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:38 AM   #3
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oh come on. She had an epipany on the bus bri!

( totally teasing and with you on this ) big ole yawn.
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:51 AM   #4
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I think sometimes we concentrate so much on the bad things in life, and don't appreciate what we have.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:52 PM   #5
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True but I don't even like what other people write inside greeting cards! Sometimes statements are so pat, so obtuse, so over done.

I must have a jaded heart. I want a truth that's going to hit me right between the eyes. Kinda like what lj said in one of those threads I am too lazy to look up. Sometimes truths about happiness take your breath away. These did not but I get your point cloud. I think YOU have a beautiful mind.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianna View Post
See? This is what is wrong with people. She's young (no hair dye) married to the "love of her life," has healthy children AND a job she loves AND lives in a city she loves and she's healthy AND has good friends?



she's not happy?

Cry me a river, stupid bitch.
Hey, guess what, Bri? I'm in the same boat. I'm married, employed, reasonably healthy, etc. And. suicidal, on occasion.

Cry me a fucking river indeed.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:08 PM   #7
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It does not matter if you are beautiful or rich or successful. Happiness doesn't reside in those things.

And Skyshide, THANK YOU for the wonderful compliment!
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:30 PM   #8
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I was a little worried as she set off... but actually that seems a pretty good list of advice to me. Don't start with profundities and fake it til you feel it are the kinds of things my mum has taught me.
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Pie View Post
Hey, guess what, Bri? I'm in the same boat. I'm married, employed, reasonably healthy, etc. And. suicidal, on occasion.

Cry me a fucking river indeed.

being "occasionally suicidal" wasn't on that cupcakes' list.
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In Barrie's play and novel, the roles of fairies are brief: they are allies to the Lost Boys, the source of fairy dust and ...They are portrayed as dangerous, whimsical and extremely clever but quite hedonistic.

"Shall I give you a kiss?" Peter asked and, jerking an acorn button off his coat, solemnly presented it to her.
óJames Barrie


Wimminfolk they be tricksy. - ZenGum
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
3. Fake it till you feel it.
All this ever got me was mental fatigue from the effort of faking it.

Quote:
5. Don't treat the blues with a "treat."
While it's easy to think, I'll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine...a pint of ice cream...a cigarette...a new pair of jeans, it's worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.
Whether "I'll feel good" or whether "this will . . . make things better" are not really the same question. It may well be that a glass of Scotch will make me feel better, but won't really improve the situation. That doesn't mean I shouldn't have the drink. (It also doesn't mean I should.)

Quote:
6. Buy some happiness. . . . For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.
Wait, what? Isn't this exactly what we aren't supposed to do in #5?
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:41 PM   #11
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The fake it thing really does work. It may not make you happier per se, but it can certainly alleviate stress and make the people around you happier.

#5 is very important, and a hard lesson to learn. It's about the long and short term effects.

#6--I had to do a double take on that, too, and I think it's poorly worded. What I got out of that is, "use your money in support of your values and your significant relationships."
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveDallas
All this ever got me was mental fatigue from the effort of faking it.
But do you have that same mental fatigue when you're not faking it too?
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:47 PM   #13
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I think the difference between number 5 and number 6 is avoiding meaningless indulgences, versus not being afraid to spend money on concrete items. The booze/cigarette/ice cream is gone once you consume it, and its effects are basically over. The big-ticket item, however, might get used again and again and again. Really, the two pieces of advice are for different personality types. I am definitely the type who will not buy something even if I can afford it, simply because I am a miser. Number 5 does not apply, because I basically don't treat myself to anything, ever, but number 6 definitely does.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:01 PM   #14
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I also noticed the tension between 5 and 6. I think Clod is wise on this - there are differences between the two.

Faking it works. If you are down, FORCE yourself to hold your face in a big silly grin for 30 seconds. This does cause the release of neurochemicals, esp seratonin, that are associated with feeling good. Seriously.
Do the grin in private, though.

Number seven is something that I have been very slowly learning. Don't wait for the perfect thing, get something that WILL DO. Otherwise you'll be waiting for ever, and have nothing.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:04 PM   #15
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#4 which is essentially, break out of your rut and learn something new, is very valuable.

#7--I'm a maximizer, so I have to work on this
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