How to live your happiest year yet!
It doesn’t matter what side of the bed you wake up on, it’s when you wake up that matters. Turns out, early birds have a sunnier disposition than night owls, because they’re more in sync with daylight hours (humans are diurnal, as compared with nocturnal). So if you’re not the sort to leap out of bed, adjust your internal clock by moving up your bedtime incrementally, by about 15 minutes every few nights. And shut down electronics two to three hours before you hit the hay. Your internal clock will adjust and, before you know it, you’ll wake up all smiles.
Of course not all your days can be filled with unicorns and rainbows, but turning a frown, you know, the other direction is actually pretty easy. Try these bliss-making moves, all backed by science. Your happy place is closer than you think!*
- Make Small Talk- Mama ever tell you not to talk to strangers? Well in this adult life where our lives are filled with waiting on long lines at the grocery store, or riding the train with long commutes to work, try and make simple conversation with your commuters. You will be surprised how many commonalities you may share with commuters! This will surely boost your joyful spirits for the entire day!
- Put on a Happy Face- We’ve all heard the link between smiling and feeling happy works both ways: feeling good leads naturally to a grin, and conversely, pasting on a smile can also keep you calmer under stress.
- Prepare yourself- Is there anything better than knowing dinner is ready as the workday ends? Cooking meals in advance, then storing or freezing them for later, may improve your mood. Given our compressed lifestyles, we are seldom able to cook a hot meal each day. Planning the week’s meals and preparing them as a family means you aren’t stressing out about what you will be cooking as the clock turns closer to 5PM.
- Plant some seeds- Backyard farmers: the hours you spend in the garden have even bigger payoffs than scrumptious produce. Growing and harvesting you own food is associated with happiness. It feels great to eat and share the food you grow!
- Make a getaway plan– The act of planning a trip and the anticipation you feel leading up to it may contribute to your good mood. In a study, only the vacationers who had fully kicked back and relaxed while away, reported a lasting happiness-boost after they came home. Sounds like a good reason to plan your next vacation at a soothing, stress-reduced spa!
- Feel amazed- When was the last time you said something was awesome and meant it literally? You know the feeling you experience while taking in an incredible natural vista or an artistic masterpiece? Feeling amazed is such a strongly positive emotion that it not only makes your soul soar, but also makes your body healthier.
- Say yes to cheese! If melty grilled cheese sandwiches and nachos dripping with queso have taught us anything, it’s that cheese is serious comfort food! Research has shown that during digestion, the protein case in cow’s milk may produce casomorphins, which can have a slight opiate-like effect on some cheese eaters – at least the lucky ones.
- Break up with your DVR- You may think you enjoy your nightly TV fix more if you start watching a show late so you can fast forward through the ads, but commercial breaks actually enhance your enjoyment. We are wired to chase and desire! If you keep delaying, you increase your longing to see the rest of the show. The season finale just got more riveting!
- Brighten your day! The most “happiness-inspiring” colors are ones you remember fondly from childhood. Think of your own happy memory and try and recreate that feeling. You can paint your living room lemon yellow or dress head to toe in spring green. Get inspired!
- Eat more Chocolate! – Research has shown that when people who suffered from stress were given small amounts of dark chocolate daily, their levels of stress hormone cortisol were lower after two weeks! Enjoy!
*Portions of article reprinted from: www.rachaelraymag.com