January 5, 2014 | Posted in: Living Hartfully

In America and many other countries the generations seem to be making more and more money than their parents and grandparents did, yet their happiness and health doesn’t keep up with the upward trend in income. There are many researchers out there on the topic of happiness and what it takes to create happiness in our lives. Some chalk it up partially to genetics and circumstances and all agree that it is a choice in mindset, outlook and lifestyle. From my work with entrepreneurs, executives and employees all over the world; I would say it is first and foremost a personal choice and about the choices we make from the mindset we’ve decided to have and the way we choose to view the world, our circumstances and how we’ve chosen to move through the world. We may not have absolute, total control of our circumstances, but we certainly do have control over how we react to them. We can’t be inspired leaders if we don’t feel inspired. We can’t give what we don’t have and as you’ll see in one of the following tips; folks need to be around other happy and inspired people. Leaders first need to take charge of their own lives and get themselves to a happy and inspired place before they can even begin to think of leading and inspiring others.

Here are some insights from researchers and from moi on how to live your life happier, healthier and Hartier this coming year and in years to come.

  1. Mashing up the mindset of an Optimist with the pragmatic insight of a Realist is what psychology researcher Sophia Chou found to be the happy medium to being happier. The blending of a clear view of present circumstances with the creative outlook of an Optimist brings about more positive ways of dealing with situations.
  2. I’ve found studies where being in the presence of negative ions helps with our happiness, mood and health. The places that produce negative ions is in a pine forest where the pine needles bristle against each other in the wind and create the reaction and the smell we love. Also being at the beach or near a waterfall where the water is crashing onto itself releasing the negative ions. The sights, sounds, whole body experience along with the ionic atmosphere help elevate our moods.
  3. Choosing to spend money on multiple small pleasures versus splurging on a couple larger ones gives people the feeling of being more in control of how they treat themselves. When we treat ourselves to treats more often, we feel more cared for and loving, even if that pleasure is one piece of divine dark chocolate per week as opposed to a trip to the islands every few years. A 2011 study published by the Journal of consumer Psychology found that happiness is more strongly associated with the frequency than the intensity of people’s positive affective experiences.  So go ahead and break up the pedicure and manicure into two visits to get more bang for your happiness buck.
  4. Eat lunch outside, at the park, near the beach, in view of pleasant scenery, at a sidewalk café… anywhere but at your desk or inside a corporate cafeteria. Scientists from the University of Sussex measured the happiness of employees after they ate lunch. And you guessed it, those who ate at their desks failed miserably on the happiness factor. So get outdoors, take a walk, take in some sun and fresh air and dine with friends to up your levels of happy during your lunch hour. I personally love to walk my dog and dine al fresco for lunch for a double shot of oomph during my day. Now there’s a twofer – puppies, play, and outdoor eating.
  5. Having a sense of order, calm and feeling that we’re in control and powerful beings brings us more happiness. It’s the act of FEELING in control, though we may not be in control, which brings us more joy. Doing activities such as keeping to somewhat of a schedule, making our beds, having our desks and our home and our lives more in order while allowing wiggle room for error and spontaneity allows for happiness to flow to us. Order contributes to inner calm according to Gretchin Rubin, the creator of The Happiness Project and the feeling of being powerful over your time and your life leads to feeling more satisfied with your life.
  6. BE HERE NOW and keeping focused on the present and exactly what is happening to you right now… oh look, a SQUIRREL! Brings on more happiness than those with a wandering or worrying mind or those with Shiny Object Syndrome according to research from Harvard psychologists. Eckhart Tolle’s books on being focused on the now and his insight into how to BE in the world advance this aspect of being harmonious with the moment. As I’ve coached supervisors for discussing performance appraisals: to focus on the past fixes blame and to focus on the future fixes the problem. Be present with the team member and deal with the behavior that is happening right now and then move toward the future while being mindful of what can be done right now to fix the issue.
  7. I’ve heard from many sources and mentors that we usually earn the average income of the five people we most hang out with. Hmmmmm. A similar thing happens to us when we hang around happy people. Surrounding yourself with positive, happy, healthy people who choose to have a sense of humor about circumstances, choose healthier living habits such as eating their fruits and veggies and not smoke, tend to rub off on you as well. Also having close friends with whom you can confide and share experiences is also a key happiness factor.  Not to mention an activity partner to help kick your butt into gear on the ski slopes, tennis courts, the gym or bike path. A little friendly rivalry or egging on doesn’t hurt when you know somebody is counting on you to show up with workout clothes and ready to go. This is a twofer: exercise and friendship.
  8. You already got  two twofer in #4 and #7 making that 9 tips in total for this posting…. Under promise and over-deliver. Watch for the next posting for 8 more happy, healthy and Harty tips for the New Year and years to come.

I’ll leave you with this thought by the great Dale Carnegie:  Success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get. I hope you get both.

As the CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) at Hartful Living including GaiaHart.com and BizBuilderCards.com; I’m a Messenger and Mentor for women entrepreneurs, connecting them to their capacity to energize their work and their lives in the art of living Hartfully. At BizBuilderCards.com, you can make a living through giving with greeting cards and gifts to build your network net worth as an additive to your current business or an easy way to send gratitude and kindness to the world.