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It's good to get reinforcement that these conscious choices have deeper benefits and such a positive impact on wellness. Stress is a killer and there's no shortage of it in our modern lives. The pursuit of happiness is no trivial matter.
As say the YOU DOCS (Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD), "Happy feelings influence your brain and body chemistry in ways that make you better able to cope with pain and stress and to fend off colds, flu, heart disease, and even cancer. ...being happy isn't just luck. You can make yourself happier, day in, day out."
Here are some of their tips.
- Listen to music. Whether you love Bach or the Beastie Boys, music that makes you feel good increases your heart and breathing rates and makes your brain release dopamine, a lovely feel-good neurotransmitter. (Music can lower your blood pressure, too!)
- Hang out with upbeat friends. Your chances of happiness increase by 15% if someone in your immediate social circle is happy. (Find out more about how your friendships can help you live longer.)
- Take a joy break. Don't worry if you're among the 80% who say their jobs don't thrill them. Even a few minutes of doing something you love (singing, hiking, watching a sunset) can reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
- Talk nice to yourself. Is your inner voice quick to snap out things like, "How could you forget that, you idiot?" Trade put-downs for encouraging words; they set you up for success.
- Connect. Talk -- really talk -- to people you care about; you'll both benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," spreading a feel-good boost. Lovemaking does, too, in steady relationships (those couples report the highest happiness levels).
- Keep a gratitude journal. Simply writing down what you're thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic. (Don't miss these other tips for showing gratitude and feeling better for it!)
- Don't sit around. Physical activity is a significant happiness booster. Get moving for 30 minutes a day -- you'll also make your RealAge more than 7 years younger. (Check out these four secrets for walking off weight.)
- Meditate. It eases stress, improves sleep, strengthens immunity, and measurably increases happiness (in one study, by 20 points on a scale of 100). (Here's how to train your brain to meditate.)
- Help others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, hospital, or shelter. Giving back adds more meaning which is essential to happiness in your life.
- Go outside. Spending time with awesome Mom Nature makes you feel alert, enthusiastic, energetic, and, simply happy.