In Pursuit of Happiness

People spend their lives pursuing happiness. Some people think a shiny new convertible or a bigger house will allow them to capture the happiness that has eluded them. Yet, according to researchers, money and material possessions are not the key ingredients to greater happiness. David Myers and Ed Diener reached a similar conclusion and broadened the happiness factor by noting, “Happiness grows less from the passive experience of desirable circumstances than from involvement in valued activities.”

So what valued activities or insights might help you achieve happiness and end your pursuit of happiness once and for all? Read this list and learn.

  1. Accept yourself and express your individuality. Psychological researchers have proven if you express your uniqueness and accept yourself, you automatically become a happier person.
  2. Develop quality relationships. Research indicates over and over again, individuals who have quality relationships with their spouses or significant others have a more positive, cheerful outlook on life. In fact, according to one happiness researcher, “people who [have] satisfying interpersonal relationships became happier over time.”
  3. Embrace your core beliefs. Do you know what is most important to you in your life? To embrace your core beliefs you must be able to answer that question. By knowing your core beliefs you can be guided in your daily decision making and thereby achieve greater happiness in life.
  4. Exercise. You are always hearing about the positive effects of exercise. Well, here’s one more. A recent Scottish study shows if you exercise at a minimal level of once a week for twenty minutes you decrease psychological distress and increase happiness. Furthermore, according to British Heart Foundation Professor, Andrew Steptoe, happier people gain more than happiness. They also receive health benefits, such as increased protection against heart disease and strokes.
  5. Find happiness in the little things. If you are always looking for big highs and intense moments of happiness, you are likely to be disappointed. Psychology Today claims “learning how to take pleasure in the little victories, recognizing their important in our lives, and working hard to minimize the negatives will accomplish more than waiting around for a burst of intense pleasure.”
  6. Foster Happiness. Two of the most important ingredients for happiness are attitude and intention. So, don’t just try to be happy, instead take a proactive approach and consciously construct your life so that you foster happiness.
  7. Have Sex. According to research done by two Dartmouth College economists, “sex enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations’ that … increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to … an additional $50,000 in income.” So, don’t ask your boss for a raise, but do ask your significant other for boost your happiness level by having sex.
  8. Forgive. Resentment and anger rob you of happiness and although you forgive someone for a wrong he or she has committed against you, the real benefit of forgiving comes back to you. It changes your thought pattern, increases hope, and allows you to experience joy.
  9. Look for the positive in life. People who have a positive outlook and make positive choices tend to attract happiness, and because positive people seek out pleasure and search for positive outcomes, they are, of course, happier.
  10. Shun loneliness and connect. According to a University of Chicago professor, John T. Cacioppo, in his groundbreaking new book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, (released just this month) social connections contribute positively to everything from awareness to physiology to behavior. Moreover, social connections are a key factor in human survival and a key factor required to achieve happiness. Caccioppo’s book also discusses the physical, emotional, and mental impacts of loneliness and provides solid steps to overcome it.

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