a special feature from Kay & Leslie, founders of Grandparentslink

What would bring true happiness to you? A winning lottery ticket? A vacation home on a faraway beach? A new car? Bah, humbug.  You don’t need that! In fact, a growing body of research suggests that lasting individual or family happiness isn’t about momentous events or acquiring more things. It’s about learning to savor life’s small pleasures…together!

We often speak of “finding” happiness- as if it’s something we stumble upon, a lucky penny on the sidewalk of life. Actually, it’s an emotion over which we have a fair amount of control. Science is confirming what Dorothy had to go to Oz to discover; happiness is not somewhere over the rainbow – it’s right in your own backyard. And if you have seen the new movie, Trolls, there’s a theme of what happiness means running through this lovely film.

Oh, and one more thing…if children are around, understand that introducing kids to happiness ‘habits’ is a package deal. “It’s buy one, get one free. You can’t teach these habits without getting happier yourself,” says Christine Carter, PhD, author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.

Working on a positive attitude and outlook create happy emotions, which are amplified, and the benefits are stronger and contagious to those around.

SO…ready to get happy? Take a look at these 7 ideas and strategies for raising the happiness bar!

  • Commit acts of kindness. Take a moment and say thank you. Take three moments and acknowledge someone who is in your life- open your eyes- certainly there’s someone or something you’d like to acknowledge.
  • LOL—a lot Yes, laughter is the best medicine, and it appears to work best if you’re diligent about getting your daily dose. A little giggle here or there produces one of the main brain chemicals (known as dopamine), which is associated with happiness and pleasure.
  • Jump for joy. Your posture and how your body moves can actually contribute to a boost in your mood.  Open your shoulders, uncross your arms, and stand up straight and tall. Oh, and if you want, try a little skip here and there in your step!
  • Unplug for a while.  The key to happiness is not found in that little screen on the phone or computer, so get over it.   Go ahead and get connected by talking, conversing; make time for each other and put away all things digital for a break! Yep, that’s right, we gotta learn to turn it all off.
  • Get into gratitude.  Let’s take time out to really express our appreciation for each other, for thoughtfulness, and all things we are grateful for. Go ahead and do the old fashion thing: write a thank you card, and don’t send a digital note. You will be surprised how much happiness is derived from expressing a moment of care.
  • Play outside!  It’s a proven fact that being outside, with a little exercise and fresh air can boost your self-esteem and mood no matter what the age group!  Remember the ideology behind recess?!
  • Celebrate sunny thinking. When you wind down after a busy day, take a re-cap and think about two or three ‘happy’ moments that transpired in your day. Believe it or not, a little optimism before you go off to sleep can be all the encouragement you may need to begin the following day. One day carries into the next.

And, smile! Putting a smile on your face can do wonders for you and everyone else you come in contact with…