13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit COMMUNICATION MOTIVATION BY IBRAHIM HUSAIN

You know how some people seem to be happy no matter what happens to them?  They always have a positive outlook on life. They seem to enjoy things more than you and me, and their relationships with people thrive in a way that we only imagine.  You’ve probably wondered what it is about them that makes happiness so easy for them.  Well it turns out there is no special trick to happiness.  Just like anything else, it’s just something that we have to learn to make a habit.  Incorporate the following 14 behaviors into your daily life and you’ll find that happiness habits surround you.

  1. Change Your Perspective

There are plenty of reasons to not be happy.  Someone cut you off on the way to work.  You got a ticket.  You made a bad grade or got a less than stellar performance review, etc.  The interesting thing about not feeling happy when these things happen is that you aren’t in control.  You have chosen to let external forces dictate how you feel about life.  When you learn that you have control over these things, simply by changing your perspective, the whole world changes.  For example, take the “someone cut you off on the way to work” scenario.  By making an excuse for that person, such as that they are rushing to get their pregnant wife to the hospital (or some other emergency), you excuse their wrongdoing and are not negatively affected by it.  Hopefully they make it to the hospital in time and bring a beautiful child into the world.  It turns out Your Perception IS Your Reality.

  1. Get Some Sunlight

Sunlight makes us happy.  UV rays hit the skin and the body begins to produce vitamin D ( vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression, among other things).  When the sunlight hits your eyes it signals to your brain to slow down secretion of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep), and increases secretion of serotonin (a hormone associated with happiness and wakefulness).  What does all of this mean?  Getting more sun will make you happier.  If you aren’t getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on your skin per day, it’s a good idea to try and get out more.  Take a walk during lunch, sit outside for a few minutes instead of watching TV.  Make time for it.

  1. Make a Life List

Life lists are awesome.  They are the theme park of life planning.  Think about the things you want to experience and accomplish before you die.  While it may sound like a morbid pursuit, it’s actually pretty life changing and inspirational.  Especially when you make plans to start checking things off your life list.

  1. Learn a New Hobby

Hobbies are fun ways to experience happiness.  Whether you love to cook, play games, paint, or anything else, the joy of learning a new hobby is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can embark upon.  When starting a new hobby, focus on the joy of just experiencing something new. There is something magical about being a “newbie,” because with every experience there is something to be gained.

  1. Focus on Appreciation and Gratefulness

Learning to show appreciation and to be grateful for what you have is, in itself, a reward.  People who express appreciation and take time be grateful are happier and have more positive outlooks on life. Start with a simple experiment.  Every night before you go to bed, write down something that happened throughout the day that you are grateful for.  It won’t take long before that habit changes your entire perspective.

  1. Meditate Regularly

While meditation often gets the reputation of being spiritual and strange to those who don’t partake, it has benefits for practically everyone who gives it a real chance.  I don’t see meditation as spiritual. I see it as therapeutic.  I sit quietly for 5-10 minutes per day (I don’t time it‒I just do it), and focus on me.  Sometimes I close my eyes; sometimes I don’t.  But I focus on my breathing, I take stock on how I feel (physically and mentally), and I visualize what my day is going to look like.  It’s almost like a pre-game ritual.  Try it.  You wont be disappointed.

  1.  Embrace Your Fears

Fear is one of the big zappers of happiness.  Fear leads us to worry, causing stress and a focus on negativity.  One way to stop fear is to begin welcoming it into your life.  Obviously you don’t want to jump into the deep end on this one, but start small and start tackling your fears.  You’ll find yourself stronger, more confident, and happier with every fear tackled.

  1. Smile More

Where I live, it’s a common occurrence to exchange smiles with anyone you come into contact with. I’ve traveled enough to know this isn’t a common practice everywhere, but I think it should be. Smiling is easy to do, feels good, tells your brain you’re happy, and can be the one happy thing the receiver of your smile sees that day.  You can brighten up the lives of people around you with just a flash of your pearly whites.  With that kind of power comes great responsibility.  Use it, and use it often!

  1. Exercise Regularly

There are numerous benefits to exercise.  I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of that.  Stress relief, health benefits, etc.  But my personal favorite benefit is the release of endorphins.  They are natural pain and stress relievers, and they make you feel great.  I didn’t believe in the endorphin rush, or Runner’s High, as it’s commonly referred, until I started running.  Now I can’t get enough.

  1. Embrace Your Negativity

Some people swallow and repress the negative thoughts and feelings they have, thinking this will somehow make them happier.  Unfortunately, it always seems to come back, manifesting in stress, physical pain, or otherwise.  The truth about the negativity is that it’s necessary to understand and accept that sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes you will be stressed.  Sometimes things will happen that you have no control over.  Understanding and accepting this will reduce the stress you feel from repression, allowing you to get back to the things that make you happy.

  1. Challenge Yourself

One of the greatest things you can do in life is to set the bar high and then achieve.  By challenging yourself in ways that are achievable, but require work, you continue to work hard and improve yourself, often times leading to the outcome of being satisfied not with the accomplishment, but with the progress that you’ve made simply by having the goal.  Set challenging goals, and then create realistic plans to achieve them.  Every achievement becomes another step on the staircase towards your greatest, happiest self.

  1. Volunteer Your Time

There is no quicker way to feel happy than to help someone else, especially someone in need of help.  Volunteering your time is addicting, not just because you’re helping people in need, but because you feel good doing it.  It’s a humbling way to honor humanity and be grateful for the blessings that you’ve received.  There’s tons of reasons for the good feelings associated with volunteering, but suffice it to say it’s a no-brainer for both quick and long-term happiness.

  1. Posture and Breathing

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  Do it a few more times.  Feel that? Posture and breathing have a profound affect on your outlook on life.  In just a few moments, hunching and taking weak, shallow breaths can sap the life right out of you.  Focus on sitting up with your shoulder back and taking deep breaths as often as possible, and you’ll be happier throughout the day.

What did we miss?  What steps have you taken towards making happiness a habit? Tell us your habit in the comments below.

When you correct your posture, especially if you work at a desk all day, you’ll be rewarding yourself later in life. Back pain, stress etc. It all gets sorted.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/13-surprising-ways-make-happiness-habit.html

do people disrespect you?

people

communicating in exponential times‏

HERE IS A GREAT POST FROM PETER DIAMANDIS:  PeterDiamandis.com

——————

If you need to communicate something important to a friend, do you call? Visit? Email? Text? Skype? WhatsApp? Snap? Tweet? Message on Facebook, or LinkedIn?

How we communicate in exponential times is changing.

This blog is about the best practices, basic rules, and the emerging technologies in a rapidly changing (and increasingly fragmented) communication landscape.

[ Click to Tweet about this (you can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/KWYB9 ]

Communication 101

As more and more tools become available, we seem to have accepted the notion that communication is “contextual”:LinkedIn is for work. Facebook is for friends. Snapchat is for close friends. Texting is for something immediate, if not urgent. Slackis for your team. Twitter is for public broadcast. Skype is for long distance. Phone calls are for intimacy or something really important.

And a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that email is well, good enough.

The reality is that email is probably the worst form of communication.

For me, I get hundreds of emails per day, and frankly:

  • If the email is more than a few lines long, I don’t read it.
  • If I don’t get the point in the first couple of lines, I stop reading.
  • An email from a stranger asking me for something (without context or an introduction) gets deleted.
  • If an email comes in at the wrong time (i.e. I’m hyper busy), it probably gets buried and doesn’t get read.
  • It is so easy to misread someone’s intent or emotions in an email that it can lead to embarrassing situations.

As we invent more and more tools to communicate with each other, sometimes tech can become a crutch and a replacement for actual meaningful communications.

How Should We Communicate?

We are social animals, and we communicate A LOT through the intonations of our voice and our facial features.

Basic rules:

If there’s something critical to communicate – close a deal, raise capital, tell someone you love them or want to break up – do it in person.

If you can’t meet in person, then do it by Skype (or Beam, see below).

If you can’t do it by Skype, then do it by phone.

Everything else (today) is basically inadequate for anything really important. That being said, if you have to email, see below.

Where Will Technology Help in the Future?

The good news is that technology under development leapfrogs the current technology in place, and will create a more meaningful and intimate level of communications.

In the decade ahead, there are three key areas that will drive meaning capabilities:

Telepresence/Beam: While Skype is okay, it’s static and limiting. If you follow my work, you’ve heard me speak about Suitable Technologies and their Beam telepresence robot. Some call it Skype on Wheels, but it is much more. I have 15 Beams across all of my companies and one of them at home. Telepresence robots like the Beam (and its future derivatives) are the next best thing to being face to face. It really gives you the ability to move around and participate, as if you were there in the flesh. Even better, in the very near future this technology is going to give you superpowers. You will have the ability to pull up details on your screen about the person to whom you’re speaking. But it could get even stranger. Imagine having the ability to use the sensors on your robot to measure the heart rate and pupillary reaction of the person you’re speaking to during a negotiation. Technologies like the Beam will expand our sensory experience when we communicate.

Virtual Worlds: The next step in technology-enabled communication comes when we’re able to skip meeting in person, and instead meet inside of a high-resolution virtual world. A world in which two individuals can have their near-perfect avatars have conversations and interactions not possible in the real world. In these virtual worlds, the avatar’s facial features mirror your exact facial features using the same technology James Cameron pioneered in his moving Avatar. This is the direction companies like Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity is taking us.

Brain-Computer Interface: The ultimate form of communications will materialize in the following decade, as we develop Brain Computer Interface (BCI) — the ability to connect mind-to-computer and computer-to-mind. This will enable the most intimate level of communication conceivable, whereby you have the ability to understand a person’s most personal thoughts and feelings.

A Few Last Words About Email

Given that email is such a ubiquitous and prolific form of communication, and I get way too much of it, I’d like to share some email best practices. The truth is: sometimes it is the only way to reach somebody. Use these tips to email most effectively.

  1. Subject Line: The subject line matters a lot — much more than most people realize. Take the time to craft it a short, compelling subject line that is descriptive of the email that follows, or, at least evocative enough to get someone to open it.
  2. Opening Line: The opening line of your email (or at least the first two lines) is critical. Tell the person why you are writing and what follows.
  3. Brevity is King: A short email is one that gets read. Something that meanders on gets deleted or ignored.
  4. Make a Simple Ask: An email should have a single action or ask. Make it easy for the person you are writing to answer. For example, if you asking for a meeting, you can say: “Can you please respond with the name of your Admin with whom I can set up a call?” or, “Let me know what day next week works for a call?”

If you do these things, you should be able to get your point across.

Join Me

This is the sort of conversation we discuss at my 250-person executive mastermind group called Abundance 360. The program is highly selective and we’re almost full, looking for a few last CEOs and entrepreneurs who want to change the world. You can apply here.

Share this email with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above.

Best,
Peter

P.S. Every week I send out a “Tech Blog” like this one. If you want to sign up, go to PeterDiamandis.com and sign up for this and Abundance Insider.

P.P.S. I’ve just released a podcast with my dear friend Dan Sullivan called Exponential Wisdom. Our conversations focus on the exponential technologies creating abundance, the human-technology collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Head here to listen and subscribe: a360.com/podcast

How to Create More Mind-Blowing Moments and Memories

A great article…..

How to Create More Mind-Blowing Moments and Memories

Ask your parents or older loved ones questions……now!

I lost my parents both in 2009.

I wish I had asked them so many things before they died. Simple things like what they were doing when JFK was shot. What they thought about the Civil Rights Movement. What was their first Pirate game like? Steeler game?

Also deeper questions like; advice for facing challenges in life, in business, in relationships. How did they keep going when finances were hard? Did they have a mentor? What did the mentor do or say that helped? Helpful books they read?

Certainly I wanted to hear more about their childhood, life, and family. They told me many stories but I didn’t always listen like I should have…..I would ask them more about my grandparents and relatives…..

I suggest that YOU take time, in the next 30 days, and ask your parents, grandparents, or older loved ones in your life – ask them about life! Do it now!

I didn’t know my parents would die that soon, certainly not within 5 weeks of one another. I also know of other families that ‘lose’ loved ones to Alzheimer’s and other mental challenges where the body is here but the memories are gone.

I hope your loved ones live long and healthy lives.

But I Challenge you to ask them some questions now.

—-

Credit: Brendon Burchard created his own list and that list inspired this list. This list below was created by Mark Evans. Want to give credit to Brendan for the inspiration.

TIP: I recommend that you hire a professional videographer to help you create a high-quality video that will be cherished and watched over and over. If too expensive, maybe get a friend that won’t be as emotional.

You can record this in any of the following ways:

  • Be there in person (I would love to do this but I’d start crying on the first questions. Truthfully not everyone is like this of course.)
  • If you’re far away from this person, call in on a speaker phone and ask the questions while they are being interviewed.
  • Or, have the videographer ask the questions and when they finish recording the answers, they can edit you asking the questions. (This is what I did)

Also, you should always have the person you’re interviewing re ask the question. Example:

YOU: “Where were you born and where did you grow up?”
THEM: “Where was I born and where did I grow up? [and then the answer]

Questions
1. State your name.
2. Tell me the date and year you were born.
3. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
4. Describe what your life was like growing up.
5. Tell me about your parents.
6.What do you remember most about your mother?
7. What do you remember most about your father?
8. How did your parents meet?
9. If they had a message to share with their grandchildren, what would it be?
10. What are your fondest memories of your childhood?
11. What are your fondest memories of your teenage years?
12. Tell me about how you met your spouse. (Where did you meet? How did you meet? How did you know they were the one you wanted to marry?)
13. How would you describe your spouse?
14. Tell me about your career. (How did you choose that career? What made you successful at it?)
15. Tell me about some of the best times in your life.
16. Tell me about some of the most difficult times in your life.
17. What helped you get through the difficult times?
18. What events in your life do you think most shaped your life?
19. How did having children change your life?
20. Tell me about what life was like when you had each child. (Repeat this question for every child the person had.)
21. How would you describe the life you lived?
22. What do you want to be remembered for?
23. What are your fondest memories in life, overall?
24. What are you most proud of in life?
25. If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you do differently?
26. If you could make any change to the world, what would it be?
27. What message would you like to share with your family?
28. What things do you want me to pursue in the future on your behalf to keep your legacy living?

Diet soda

i love diet soda but I know that it isn’t a good thing

I just saw this on msn.com

-© Nicholas Liby/ flickr

On a recent unseasonably warm day in New York City, I, like many of my fellow cube farmers, headed outside to eat lunch in the sun. The park’s tables were packed with slender, natty finance dudes digging into take-away salads, turkey sandwiches, and tortilla-less burrito bowls from Chipotle. What amazed me were all the Diet Coke cans studding this giant sea of otherwise healthy tabletops.

A quick and extremely unscientific survey of these gents revealed that these guys, like you, already knew regular and diet soda are packed with artificial crap, are bad for teeth, and lead to obesity and diabetes (yes, even the sugar-free stuff). So, WTF?

Not surprisingly, most were downing it for the caffeine to counteract post-lunch food coma. But after digging deeper, I learned that what most guys were really avoiding was an afternoon coffee, fearing the extra caffeine found in a cup of joe would do more harm than good.

So these guys chose Diet Coke because they thought it was healthier. [ Cue palm-to-forehead slap. ]

It isn’t. Still .

Yes, a tall iced coffee from Starbucks can pack twice the jump juice as a can of Diet Coke, but it won’t keep you up at night or increase your risk of hypertension or ulcers. (A single Illy espresso has about the same caffeine as 12 ounces of Diet Coke, FYI.)

With coffee you not only get the feel-good focus buzz—a 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition argues the black stuff is one of the largest sources of life-extending antioxidants on the planet.

Soda, on the other hand, may provide a burst but only ups your risk for bad things. In fact, just this month, a 28-year study of 43,000 men found those who drank soda had a much higher risk of stroke than those who sipped coffee.

So be a (healthier) man and skip the soda. You know better.

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE THAT CAN STAND ALONE AND SPEAK BY ITSELF. NOTHING MORE THAT I CAN REALLY ADD OTHER THAN PLEASE READ AND USE IT !

From Psychology Today Magazine………

Fulfillment at Any Age

    How to remain productive and healthy into your later years
    by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

Giving thanks: The benefits of gratitude

      Why gratitude is good for your mental health

We all like being thanked. It’s a great feeling to have someone, especially someone who doesn’t stand to gain, tell us that we made a difference in their lives. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the good fortune of receiving some heartfelt thank you notes from students, pausing as they got ready to leave campus for the summer, or perhaps for good, to take a moment and let me know that something I said or did proved helpful to them. I’ve also had the good fortune of having favors done for me by people who went out of their way to help me solve a problem, fix something, or in fortunately only one case- return a lost cellphone. Being thanked and having reason to thank others are two sides of the same gratefulness coin. Both exemplify the positive in human behavior and provide us with a positive charge that boosts our emotional balance.

On the surface it seems like gratitude has everything to recommend it. There are a few gratitude traps, though. Some people feel uncomfortable about being thanked. They get truly embarrassed, dismissing the thanker by insisting that “it was nothing” (though clearly the thanker felt otherwise). There are also some uncomfortable aspects about thank-yous when it comes to thank-you presents that are overly generous or could be interpreted as bribes.

If you’re at the receiving end of a thank-you, you may feel unsure about how to reciprocate. Does a thank-you present require a thank-you note? What about thanking someone who’s helped you? Do you reward a person who returns a lost item with cash or just allow your relieved face to serve as its own reward? Then there’s the guilt factor: What if you let a few weeks slip by without sending a thank-you note for a birthday gift? Does it look worse to send a belated thank-you note or just to forget the whole thing and hope the gift-giver won’t notice? Thank-you notes inspire their own particular forms of angst, as was pointed out in one particularly insightful Social Q’s column of the New York Times (for the record: this column is a treasure trove of psychological insight on quirky behaviors).

It might be reassuring, then, to learn that the expression of thanks can be its own reward. Being the recipient of a favor can also make the favor-giver (if there is such a word) feel good too. Everyone benefits when thanks are freely given and just as freely acknowledged. 

There are always exceptional circumstances involving acts of extreme altruism. Heroes are known as the people who put the needs of others above our own. These cases put in bold relief the fact that a hero doesn’t expect thank-you notes or little gift baskets as acknowledgement of his or her sacrifice.

Many real-life heroes also do not expect thank-yous. Yet, when we benefit from the labors that others put out for our sake, we feel internally driven to and want to express our gratitude. And that’s a good thing, in more ways than one.

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough point out that gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. They point out the benefits of expressing gratitude as ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. People who express gratitude also are more likely to offer emotional support to others.

Expressing gratitude in your daily life might even have a protective effect on staving off certain forms of psychological disorders. In a review article published this past March (see below), researchers found that habitually focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life is related to a generally higher level of psychological well-being and a lower risk of certain forms of psychopathology.

Now how can you apply these ideas to your own life? Here are some suggestions to boost your own, shall we say, GQ’s (“gratitude quotient”):

1. If someone thanks you, accept the thanks graciously. Let the person know you appreciate being thanked. That’s all you need to do. Really.

2. If you find that difficult, think about why gratitude makes you uncomfortable. Do you not feel worthy of being thanked? In my study of personal fulfillment in midlife, I identified a subgroup of people whose own fulfillment was hampered by their lack of faith in their own worth. Chronic feelings of inadequacy can make it difficult for people to benefit from any thanks that come their way.

3. Look for small things to be grateful for. Not all acts of kindness have a capital “K.” A driver who lets you ease into a busy highway deserves a wave just as much as someone who holds open a door when you’re loaded down with packages. A smile will boost your GQ and make both of you feel better.

4. Don’t fret about gratitude infractions. If you forget to send a thank you note don’t worry about it and certainly don’t use elapsed time as an excuse to avoid the task altogether. Send a quick email and then get to the real thing. If you’re a chronic forgetter, though, you might try to figure out why. By the same token, if someone forgets to thank you, don’t ruminate over it, thereby raising your BP if not your GQ.

5. Keep your thank you’s short, sweet, and easy to write. One reason people procrastinate about writing thank you’s is that they want them to be original and not seem hasty, insincere, or ill conceived. This doesn’t mean the thank you should be one that is short enough to tweet but if you don’t build it up in your mind as having to be a magnum opus you’ll be less inclined to put it off. Whatever you do, don’t make excuses or lie about having sent a thank you that you never did (for more on lying and excuse-making, check out my previous post).

I’ll close by saying thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link. It’s the least I can do!

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. 

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2010

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