I was reading an article in a magazine that really hit home- a woman named Gretchen Rubin actually studied happiness. I have often wondered what research has been done on this topic. Sometimes I measure other people’s happiness by asking, “How are you today?” If they roll their eyes and say, “Where should I start?” I give them a low happiness rating for the day. If they smile and say, “The weather is beautiful, my kids are in school and things are pretty great.” I assume they are happy.
I aspire to be that second person most of the time. But, there are days when I am that haggard mom who rolls her eyes. I thought you all might be interested to hear a couple of her ideas after her year long study of happiness. She has a blog too, it is called the happiness-project. You can read her words on her site- I am just paraphrasing:
1. Start simple: Rather than jumping in with daily meditation or answering deep questions about self-identity, start with the basics like getting a good night sleep or not letting yourself get too hungry. Science backs up that these two factors have a big impact on happiness.
2. Challenge yourself to do something new. The brain is stimulated by surprise and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation. People who do new things- learn a game, travel to unfamiliar place- are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. Learn to “ENJOY THE FUN FAILURE”.
3. Excercise. Even a 10 minute walk can brighten the day.
4. Stop nagging. Nagging your husband and kids to do something is often ineffective. Use other tactics like leaving a note, clue or a one word reminder. For example, if you need your husband to change a lightbulb, set it out on the counter where he can see it. Or if your kids forget to pick up their shoes as they walk away say, “Shoes!”. Nagging can have adverse effects on both the nagger and the nagee.
5. Take Action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament. Although genetics do play a role, about 40% of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect and taking concious steps to make your life happier really does work.