Five Ways to Spend Five More Minutes Being Happy

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on April 29, 2013

Inspiring Moment: Children at Play/Twister photo

I’ve been reading lots of articles lately on something that should come naturally to all of us, but often doesn’t in our busy work-a-day worlds: how to be happy.

Often children are described as “happy-go-lucky.” Adults, not so much.

Here are five tips to help you find happiness in everyday life.

1. Know what you treasure most.

In an article in the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine, author Jean Chatzky refers to Lois Vitt, Ph.D., founding director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies. “The things in life we value usually fall into one of four categories,” according to Vitt.

If you’re a personal-values person, you’re happiest spending on yourself. Therefore a wardrobe boost might do the trick.

If you’re a social-values person, buying gifts for friends and family improves your spirits.

Those driven by physical values enjoy getting things that engage the senses, such as a new bike or a luxuriously renovated bathroom.

If you’re driven by financial values, you relish money in its purest sense, from saving and investing to getting good deals.

Therefore, figure out what you value most, and spend accordingly.

In an article in the same magazine entitled, “Give Yourself a Happiness Makeover, by longevity expert Dan Buettner, I picked up the following two tips.

2. Get a daily dose of friends.

According to Jim Harter, Ph.D., co-author of “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements,” the happiest people are those who purposefully plan for social times and get at least six hours a day of interaction with friends or family. And, for each unhappy friend, our happiness declines by 7 percent!

3. Ignite your passion for compassion.

Givers tend to be happier people. In a test group, those people who were given money and spent it on others were happier than those who spent the cash on themselves. Altruism stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as sugar and cocaine, according to Jorge Moll, M.D., Ph.D.

In an article in the Washington Athletic Club (WAC) Magazine, entitled “Internal Wisdom,” I picked up our two final tips. Kathleen Keneally, LAc, LMP, LMHC, offers the following sage advice.

4. Listen to your body.

Take better care of yourself by really being aware and “listening” to your body. Our sensory system sends us signals about our own health, according to Keneally. “If we listen and pay close enough attention, we are more likely to experience ongoing health and wellness.”

5. Look for levity and creativity in everyday life. 

In the same article, Dr. James Weber, a yoga therapist, discusses the link between laughter and creativity and a longer life. He says we all hear a lot about eating healthy foods and getting enough exercise. But finding humor in situations and laughing out loud every day can be an important anti-aging technique. Add to this doing something new and different every day–thinking and acting outside our normal comfort zone–and you may just add years to your life, and have fun doing it.

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