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Three Tips to Enhancing Happiness

Posted by on Mar 8, 2011 | 8 Comments

I’m prone to episodes of mild depression.  This is especially common throughout February and March, which is probably a function of the cumulative affects of diminished light over the course of our long winters.  Damn you, seasonal affective disorder!

Anyway, here are three tips that can help enhance your mood.

1. Surround yourself with people that are happiness enhancers. Happiness begets happiness.  Other peoples’ moods tend to rub off on us.  If we follow Pareto’s principle and eliminate the 20% of the people in our lives that cause 80% of the unhappiness, we’ll take a major step towards increasing out own happiness.  Furthermore, spend more time with the 20% of the people that cause 80% of your happiness.  Both of these will pay huge dividends.  If you are in a situation where you cannot eliminate that bad 20%, work to actively reduce contact to a bare minimum.   Surround yourself with people that make you happy.

2. Avoid the daily news. Most of the time, news sucks.  Worse, it is not an accurate gauge of the negativity of the world.  For every tragedy or psychopath with body parts in their freezer, there are countless examples of good people doing good things that never makes the headlines.  Continually watching negative news stories does little other than give you a negative impression of the world around us.  Do we really need to know the current political climate of Libya?  Unless we have a vested interest in Libya, probably not.  Focus on the things you can control; don’t concern yourself with things that have no bearing on your life.  Ignorance is bliss.  Actively seek that ignorance.

3. Teach someone something. You don’t have to be a teacher to take advantage of this one.  Teaching is the method we use to share our experiences with others, and all of us are inherently good teachers.  What skills do you have that could benefit others?  Go out and teach them to someone somewhere.  This can be as simple as teaching a neighbor how to plant peas, teaching a kid how to throw a knuckle-curve, or signing up to teach folk dancing in a community education program.  Passing our knowledge to others is intrinsically rewarding, which leads to a deep sense of fulfillment… and happiness.

What else can each of us do to lead us to happiness?  Share your ideas in the comments section!

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8 Comments

  1. Mark Young
    March 10, 2011

    Thank you

  2. Kate (KittyK)
    March 9, 2011

    I would add…

    Make someone laugh at least once a day. Doesn’t matter if it’s a half-hearted smirk or an all out ROFL.. Just make someone laugh. (extra points if some partly eaten food or beverage comes out of their nose when you do it – or destroy their keyboard)

    Do something nice for someone. It could be giving a stranger your place in line at the supermarket. Or even something simple as holding a door. If you cheered their day up by doing that little something then ask them to pass the favour on.

    Learn or achieve one new thing. It could be a simple fact you didn’t know before, or a whole new skill.

    I could add more, but there maybe kiddies watching and I am sure there are some interwebby word censors lurking about somewhere.

  3. hmduey
    March 9, 2011

    Great advice! I haven’t watched the news since 1991 or so (when the first Gulf War was on TV 24/7). I couldn’t fathom watching that and I just gave it up then. You’re also 100% spot on about removing the negative people from your life. This has worked for me tremendously. It doesn’t mean don’t be there for your friends, but it does mean that if that friend is unhappy ALL the time and complains about everything, it’s time to think about giving them up (or as you said, limiting time with them).

    I invested in one of those SAD lights a few years ago; I have the same problem with darkness and I’m in FL. I even have problems after just four days of rainy weather! It really has helped me, but you have to use it for a few days in a row to notice the difference.

  4. Ludo
    March 8, 2011

    Increase your daily intake of Niacin (Vitamin B3)!

  5. Jen
    March 8, 2011

    Great tips! I love the news thing. And Shel’s suggestion is great. Our problems never look as bad when we’re helping someone else. And I like Jen’s suggestion of being grateful. Another thing that helps me is to laugh. Whether it’s at the youtube baby ripping paper or a good comic (Brian Regan), laughing always helps me. You can’t fake a smile for long, it soon becomes real without really trying!

  6. Jen
    March 8, 2011

    I would add: Count your blessings, especially the “little” things. When I was recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery (almost 10 years ago), I realized how much I took the simple act of mobility for granted. Most of the time, thinking about these blessings (health, food and shelter) re-focuses my “problems” into what they really are — pretty insignificant in the whole scope of things.
    Also, when I go running now, even if I’m not feeling great or running as fast as I would like to, I’m still very thankful and joyful for the ability to run, period.

  7. Angie Bee
    March 8, 2011

    I was going to add the same as what Shel said. It always makes me feel happy ,even when I am at a point that I don’t even want to be happy,to take care of someone else.
    As soon as the focus is taken off of myself and I start giving instead of looking to get I instantly feel lighter and the feeling grows and I forget about my own discomfort.

  8. shel
    March 8, 2011

    thank you for saying “avoid the news’ the news is sucky. according to the news we are all about to die, be plunged into war, lose our jobs, heads are going to explode yada yada. avoid at all costs, nothing you can do about it anyway.

    i would add:
    4) do something for someone. if you are blue or anxious or what have you, look outside of yourself. see if someone needs help moving, an encouraging word, a loan til payday, a hug – whatever. then give it. i guarantee as much as you bless the giver, you’ll be blessed more yourself