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How to Be Happy: 6 Habits for Happiness
Over the past two decades, research on mindfulness, the science of happiness, and the neurobiology of the brain suggests that happiness is not a choice, but rather something we do. In fact, trying to be happy is counterproductive. So, if trying to be happy doesn't work, then what does? Well, research indicates that practicing certain habits induces a sense of well-being, which doesn't mean being happy all the time, but rather that we feel contentment with our lives despite life's ups and downs, and isn't that what happiness is all about, feeling good about our lives? So, what are these habits for happiness?
Habit #1: TAKING CARE OF OUR BODIES because a mountain of research supports the notion that regular exercise, a good diet, and proper sleep are highly associated with improved mental health. In other words, for our brains to remain healthy, we need to feed them regular exercise, a good diet, and proper sleep.
Habit #2: DEVELOPING CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS because our brains seem to be hard-wired to need emotional support from others AND to give it as well. However, it's the quality of these relationships that matters, not the quantity, because research suggests it's difficult to develop a sense of well-being and contentment if we live in emotional isolation. Thus, having at least a few close and emotionally intimate relationships helps feed our brains to keep them healthy.
HABIT #3: PRACTICING MINDFULNESS, which means savoring the joys of life while directly facing its challenges without obsessing on them. It means being intentionally and fully present to the unfolding of our lives with an attitude of curiosity and wonder rather than with constant judgment. Practicing mindfulness and mindfulness meditation develops and strengthens the mid-prefrontal cortex, the most highly evolved part of our brain, which then weakens its connection to our lower brain stress reactions, thus, allowing us to respond to life's challenges rather than reacting in a knee-jerk manner. Living mindfully is a proven practice for decreasing stress, improving emotional regulation, and improving self-care, all of which help to create a sense of well-being and contentment with our lives.
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Copyright 2005-2017 Serenity Online Therapy
All Text and many photos by Carl Benedict
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