If the stages of life can be viewed as chapters in a book, for many of us, what’s coming next will be filled with ups, downs, as well as good times and bad. However, despite the life adjustments that come with getting older, we need to remember the importance of achieving and sustaining happiness – a vital source of keeping the mind, body and soul healthy for the rest of our lives. This year, as we look to bring happiness and positivity back into our lives, here are a few things to remember.
1. Remember happiness is good for your health
Happiness is an emotion that has a long list of benefits that go beyond just feeling good for a certain period. The health benefits are astounding and include stress relief, improvement of blood pressure and heart problems, boosting the immune system and much more.
There have been several studies that have looked at the connection between happiness and health. In the last few years, a new systematic review of these was published in the Annual Review of Public Health. Overall, while the scientific community says more research is required, there is ample evidence to support the idea that feelings of happiness and satisfaction with life is associated with better health.
2. Add happiness into your life each day
It’s not a heavy “lift” to add happiness into your life each day. Think about the last time you laughed or genuinely enjoyed yourself. Maybe it was at a dance class with a friend or playing with your pet or grandkids. Take those moments and replicate them as much as you can. It’s previous moments like those that for many people evoke happiness. If you do not already have those moments or they seldom occur, do not be afraid to get out there and create them. If you are looking for suggestions on bringing happiness into your life, download our list of “21 opportunities to focus on happiness in 2021.”
3. Stay socially connected
Try not to isolate yourself and always be open to socializing, making new friends and creating new experiences. Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, LLC says that we are happiest when we socialize and connect with people each day. And while current social distancing protocols keep us from socializing safely face to face, there are options to connect virtually, and things could change soon.
For some, it is not easy to venture out your comfort zone and if that is the case, there are often local resources here in Monterey County for people ages 60+ to connect – whether it is for the general networking, taking classes or even dating. While in-person networking is not safe right now, there are virtual options including Aspire Health Plan’s Community Connections classes. Aspire has also compiled a list of local clubs and community centers to explore
4. Feel good about yourself
Another critical element to being happy is self-confidence. A paper written by a psychologist from Florida State University found a strong link between self-esteem and happiness. You can feel good about yourself and boost your self-esteem in a variety of ways through exercise, dating, a volunteer opportunity or pursuit of a passionate hobby. Find something that works for you and implement it into your routine. The better you feel about yourself, the happier you can be and can share it with others.
5. Train your brain
A few years ago, Richard Davidson, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin Madison wrote about well-being as a skill that can be learned. The road to happiness may not be as easy for some as it is for others. You may have to train your brain to be happy. For example, for some, their first instinct may be to think negatively, while others immediately see the glass half full. Seeing the world in a more positive light will naturally allow you to be surrounded by more positive people and experiences – which in turn will evoke happiness.
We started the “Choose Happy” program to continue to explore the link between happiness and good health, plus offer inspiration on ways to be happy and share positivity with one another. The important thing to do is to not underestimate the power of happiness. Being able to incorporate it into your daily life and share it with others can have dramatic effects on your life, your health and everyone around you.