Two Weeks to a Happier, Healthier You - Part 2
Posted by Katie Ostoich on April 16, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Sixty percent of happiness depends on your DNA and life circumstances, but what you think and do affect the other 40 percent—sweet news for your state of mind. We've already gone through the first seven days, so take the next seven to try the rest of our stress-reducing, joy-inducing plan. What do you have to lose (besides some negativity)? You'll be amazed at what one small tweak a day can do.
And if you don’t already, follow us on Twitter where I’ll be sending out daily reminders!
Day 8: Vary Your Thanks
Tonight, before bed, jot down a few things you love about your family. One morning next week, right when you wake up, do it again, this time focusing on what you adore about your pals. Then, the next afternoon, write down the reasons you're grateful for your job. Give thanks twice a week tops, focusing on whatever feels wonderful in your life.
Research has shown that writing down what you're grateful for increases energy, optimism and determination, and reduces greed, envy and anger. Changing when you give thanks and what for is even more beneficial. If you count your blessings too often (thrice weekly or more) or focus on the same old, same old, gratefulness becomes a chore, meaning you won't get the same charge you would by mixing things up.
Day 9: Just Do It...Yes,That!
Drop the remote, shut your laptop, turn on some tunes, and give your sweetie a little love, even if—shocker—you're not that into it at this very moment.
You probably know intuitively what research has shown: Getting it on reduces anxiety and depression and elevates mood. Even when women don't have an orgasm, simply being touched in a sensitive area can increase happy feelings all through the next day, the Archives of Sexual Behavior notes. Sex may alter brain chemistry by triggering the release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. And being close with your honey just plain feels good.
Day 10: Be a Faker
Put on a smile, whether you feel like it or not.
Feigning joy can induce joy. People who accurately made happy, angry or surprised expressions experienced those feelings two out of three times. The facial movements trigger physiological changes: I'm smiling; that must mean I'm happy. Read more about the power of faking it.
Day 11: Grab Some Girlfriend Time
Get your BFF and head to a museum, take a hike or spend an evening with takeout and Downton Abbey. If your pal isn't local, call or Skype her for a heart-to-heart.
Having one truly great friend affects your joy more than having a few dozen sort-of-close friends. A solid relationship with your nearest and dearest can improve your happiness by up to 10 percent. Girlfriends tend to talk about their thoughts and feelings, which promotes a special kind of intimacy and gives us a unique sense of support and belonging.
Day 12: Help the Local Economy
Whatever you need—a bottle of wine, new tires—don't drive miles out of your way to get it at a better price. Today, go to your local store and ask for the shopkeeper's recommendation. Then snag it, even if it isn't the exact thing you had in mind or the least expensive.
People who search for only the best, even if they find it, are less happy than those who opt for something that's good enough, research suggests. It might seem counterintuitive, but learning that good enough often is good enough buys you time to devote to more meaningful things, like family. When you buy locally, you also bond with a merchant, and relationships are a primary source of joy. That makes it a twofer, happiness-wise.
Day 13: Plan Fun
On your first free day, pencil in something you'd love to do. (A massage!) Then download the TimeAndDate.com Countdown app on Facebook. Every time you log on, you'll see how long you have until the pampering.
Looking forward to a future perk can give you a lift right now. People who book a vacation feel elation long before they board a plane, research finds—that is, you don't have to go anywhere to reap the benefits of a holiday. Maximize the high by reminding yourself of the upcoming event as often as possible. (Photo of a beach on your mirror? That works!)
Day 14: Put a Cherry on Top
When you have something unpleasant to do, like a hellacious commute or an appointment at the dentist, give yourself a positive finish to look forward to. When you reach the end of a long car ride, crank up your radio and groove out to "Mr. Roboto." After the cavity filling, treat yourself to a walk in the park.
Life as we live it and life as we remember it are two different things. When people look back on their day, it's the very best and the very worst moments that tend to have the greatest effect on how they remember it. What's more, people tend to recall feeling angrier, sadder and more tense during the worst moments than they actually reported experiencing during the event itself. If you engineer a positive outcome, you'll help offset a negative one. Not only will you recall a tough week at work, but you'll also recall that luxe mani-pedi on Friday evening.
So now you’ve finished living happily for these two weeks—enjoy it ever after!