What Are The Secrets To A Happy Life
When researchers studied the happiest people and scientifically analyzed what they had in common what secrets did they discover?
There was a clear answer to what differentiated these people from everyone else — and it wasn’t money, smarts, age, gender or race.
Secrets To A Happy Life #1 – Relationships !!!
Turns out, there was one factor that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships.
Social interaction was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor, more than, family income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race. The correlation between social support and happiness was 0.7. This may not sound like a big number, but for researchers it’s huge—most psychology findings are considered significant when they hit 0.3. The secret then is, the more social support you have, the happier you are.
In a studies it was found that the capacity to love and be loved was the single strength most clearly associated with well-being at age eighty.
If you do one thing today to be happier, spend time with friends. Not spending more time with people we love is something we regret the most.
Secret #2 – The happiest people are those that are very busy but don’t feel rushed…
Research suggests it is those fortunate folks who have little or no excess time, and yet seldom feel rushed. You’re tired. You want a break. But doing nothing is not the answer. Too much time is a burden and surveys “continue to show the least happy group to be those who quite often have excess time.” Boredom, it seems, is burdensome.
So what do you need to be doing? What’s the secret?
Do things you’re good at. “Signature strengths” are the things you are uniquely talented at — and using them brings you joy. People who deliberately exercised their signature strengths on a daily basis became significantly happier for months.
When volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups.
And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full month later.
Studies show that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become. Signature strengths are one of the secrets to a happy life and to experiencing more “flow” at work and in life. Exercising them is why starving artists are happier with their jobs.
The old adage “those who do what they love never work a day in their life” seems true.
Secret #3 – Don’t Stay In A Job You Hate
Karl Pillemer of Cornell University interviewed nearly 1500 people age 70 to 100+ for his book “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.”
What piece of advice were they more adamant about than any other? More than lessons regarding marriage, children and happiness?
Don’t stay in a job you dislike.
You know those nightmares where you are shouting a warning but no sound comes out? Well, that’s the intensity with which the experts wanted to tell younger people that spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake. Over and over they prefaced their comments with, “If there’s one thing I want your readers to know it’s . . .”
From looking back over long experience, wasting around two thousand hours of irretrievable lifetime each year is pure idiocy. Take a lesson from people who have already seen most of what life has to offer: do not waste time in a job you hate.
Secrets To A Happy Life #4 – Plan Your Happiness
It’s ironic that we treasure happiness so much yet often treat it as this random bit of alchemy we luck into. That’s silly. Passively waiting for happiness is a losing proposition. The secret is happiness needs regular appointments. Schedule the things that make you happy.
Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker, author of The Dragonfly Effect, explained:
…what is interesting is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to spend their time and how they actually spend their time… you find a large percentage know what projects and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects and with those people.
…once you identify the activities and people with whom you want to spend more time, calendaring your time thoughtfully becomes critical. When you put something on a calendar, you’re more likely to actually do that activity – partly because you’re less likely to have to make an active decision whether you should do it – because it’s already on your calendar.
Look at the things that make you happy and plan them into your calendar and schedule.
Do not wait for happiness. Game the system. Happiness card-counting. Happiness Moneyball. Refuse to leave it to chance.
Secret #5 – Happiness Isn’t Everything
No one confuses the type of happiness ice cream brings with the positive feelings one gets from raising a good kid.
Happiness is a vague word. We need happy feelings but we also need meaning in our lives. And research shows they are related but distinct:
Studies suggest that happiness is mainly about getting what one wants and needs, including from other people or even just by using money. In contrast, meaningfulness was linked to doing things that express and reflect the self, and in particular to doing positive things for others.
Meaningful involvements increase stress, worries, arguments, and anxiety, which reduce happiness. (Spending money to get things went with happiness, but managing money was linked to meaningfulness.) Happiness went with being a taker more than a giver, while meaningfulness was associated with being a giver more than a taker.
Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan did a 7 year study of over 43,000 adults age 40 to 79 asking if they had ikigai (a Japanese term for meaning in life) and then tracked their health.
People with ikigai were much more likely to be alive 7 years later.
Even when likely confounds were taken into account, ikigai predicted who was still alive after 7 years. Said another way, 95% of respondents who reported a sense of meaning in their lives were alive 7 years after the initial survey versus about 83% of those who reported no sense of meaning in their lives. The lack of ikigai was in particular associated with death due to cardiovascular disease (usually stroke), but not death due to cancer.
Happiness in the moment is not everything.
In his TED talk, Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow discussed two different types of happiness that sound very similar to the distinction between happiness and meaning.
The first is being happy in your life. It is happiness that you experience immediately and in the moment.The second is being happy about your life. It is the happiness that exists in memory when we talk about the past and the big picture. Stories are key here. This is closer to “meaning.”
Secrets To A Happy Life #6 – Give — But *Not* Until It Hurts
Giving makes us happier than receiving. In fact, it can create a feedback loop of happiness in your life.
Helping others reach their goals brings joy. Doing nice things for others today can literally make you happier for the rest of the week. Being a martyr however, stresses you out and is bad for your health.
Research shows that on the job, people who engage in giving end up feeling overloaded and stressed, as well as experiencing conflict between work and family.This is even true in marriages: in one study of married couples, people who failed to maintain an equilibrium between their own needs and their partner’s needs became more depressed over the next six months.
What to do? Do all your giving one day a week.
The chunkers achieved gains in happiness; the sprinklers didn’t. Happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts in a single day, rather than doing one a day. Researchers speculate that “spreading them over the course of a week might have diminished salience and power or made them less distinguishable from participants habitual kind of behavior.”
How much should you give? Remember The 100 Hour Rule. One hundred hours a year — in other words, 2 hours per week.
One hundred seems to be a magical number when it comes to giving and one of the secrets to a happy life. In a study of more than two thousand Australian adults in their mid-sixties, those who volunteered between one hundred and eight hundred hours per year were happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who volunteered fewer than one hundred or more than eight hundred hours annually.
In another study, American adults who volunteered at least one hundred hours in 1998 were more likely to be alive in 2000. There were no benefits of volunteering more than one hundred hours. This is the 100-hour rule of volunteering. It appears to be the range where giving is maximally energizing and minimally draining.
A hundred hours a year breaks down to just two hours a week. One of the secrets to a happy life is that if people start volunteering two hours a week, their happiness, satisfaction and self-esteem go up a year later.
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