Happiness Habits

Monday, June 15, 2009

Research shows that you can increase your happiness level. Dr. Martin
Seligman conducted research on 1,000 participants. They took an authentic happiness survey and then they were assigned one of these exercises to complete in a week:

1. Write every night for a week about early memories.
2. Write and deliver a note of gratitude.
3. Write down 3 things that went well each day and their causes.
4. Write about a time when they were at their best and reflect on their strengths.
5. Take the character inventory, note their strengths, and use them in the next week.

All showed increased happiness and decreased depression. Follow-up studies revealed that the longer the participants did the exercises, the greater the happiness increased.

How can we apply these principles? We don’t always choose our circumstances, but we always choose our reaction to them. I have made a habit of counting my blessings so that I can get a happiness boost each morning. As I run on my treadmill, I can see my Happiness Board where I’ve posted pictures of friends and family and positive sayings to encourage me bring a smile to my face.

Jesus instructed his disciples to stay in love with him so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). Let’s work on increasing our joy, our happiness, by adopting some new Happiness Habits.

Try one of these researched-based Happiness Habits

1. Count your blessings
Keep a Gratitude Journal. At least once a week, write down 3-5 things for which you are thankful.
Make a Happiness Board. On a display board pin pictures, words, and memorabilia of things or people that make you happy.
Make a Joy Box
Say a “Blessing Prayer” each day thanking God by calling out your blessings to him.
2. Acts of kindness
Do random acts of kindness for strangers.
Do strategic acts of kindness for friends and family.
Volunteer in a ministry.
Identify your key strengths and use them in a new way.

3. Savor life’s joys
Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Take “mental pictures” of pleasurable moments and review them in sad times.
4. Thank a mentor
Express your appreciation to someone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you through a challenging period.
5. Learn to forgive
Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to someone who has hurt you.
6. Invest time and energy in friends and family
Spend time with friends or family at a special outing.
7. Take care of your body.
Take extra care of an area that you’ve neglected: sleep, exercise, healthy eating, stretching, smiling, or laughing.
8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships.
Add a time of devotion and meditation to your day.
Put $1.00 in a basket every time to “blame, shame, or complain.” Give the money to charity at the end of a week. (We have about 60,000 thoughts a day – one per second during each waking hour. 90% are the same thoughts you had yesterday. For the average person, 80% of these thoughts are negative.)
Memorize scriptures and say them as affirmations during the day.

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