It’s the time
of year when
and many of
and want to
a cave until
as many as
6 percent of Americans that urge
becomes crippling. They have SAD,
or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Such seasonal mayhem is caused
by shortened and delayed sunlight
hours. Light and darkness are
connected to mood. As our brain
waits to receive the morning light
and that light comes later, our
body’s timing pushes later and we
have difficulty waking. You can help
prevent the doldrums with early
morning exercise (at first light so
your body gets more sun) and a
healthy diet. If that doesn’t help,
your doctor may suggest medication
or a light therapy box, which uses
intense rays to trick the body into
thinking it’s summer.
FAKE IT Research shows that going
through the motions can trigger
emotions. So smile at passersby
until your grin becomes genuine.
Approach your workday with a jaunty
step until you actually get caught up
in real enthusiasm.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS It may
sound hokey and old-fashioned, but
it works. People who keep a gratitude
journal, pausing each day to list
three things that they’re thankful
for, are happier and healthier.
ASK OTHERS WHAT MAKES THEM
HAPPY By asking people about
happiness, you encourage them to
stop what they are doing and reflect
on what is meaningful. And it’s
contagious. It’s almost impossible
to hear about someone’s happiness
without being caught up in it
SEEK HELP Don’t let depression go
untreated. See your doctor.
Happiness is healthy. One study from the University of California, Berkeley found that female grads with genuine smiles in yearbooks went on to have more satisfying marriages and a greater sense of well-being. And the University of Kentucky found that 90 percent
of those in the most positive quarter of the novices at the School
Sisters of Notre Dame were still alive at age 85, versus only a
third of the least positive 25 percent. So much for the old adage
about the good dying young.
Can you embrace bliss, even if it seems as if you’re more down
than up lately? Happily, the answer is yes. “Happiness is rather
like a cholesterol level—influenced genetically, but also by things
we can do,” says David Myers, psychology professor at Holland,
Michigan’s Hope College and author of The Pursuit of Happiness.
Remember, though, not to overthink it. Don’t make happiness
itself the goal. Instead, concentrate on its main ingredients: solid
relationships, gratitude, and that magical thing called hope.
ɋ NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS Research repeatedly shows
that people’s happiest experiences come from intimate
relationships—friends, family, spouses.
ɋ LEARN TO APPRECIATE You can sustain the feel-good by
savoring things. The ability to see ordinary things with a sense
of wonder is essential to contentment.
ɋ BE KIND Positive events lead to further kindness. That’s what
a Cornell University study found when researchers gave
chocolate chip cookies to half the students in the library. When
student volunteers deliberately dropped books on the floor,
the people given cookies were much more likely to help those
whose books fell.
How to be
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