How can I be happy?

Stress, anger, depression and pessimism are all thought to contribute to heart disease and other forms of illness. Although happiness may be related in part to your genes, research shows there are many ways to improve your happiness, including the following:

  • Accept the things you can’t change, and learn not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on the things you can change - mainly your attitude and approach to life.
  • Point out the positive in every situation. Keep a gratitude journal to force yourself to find one or more things you are thankful for each day. Doing so will give you some positive perspective. Things can always be worse.
  • Surround yourself with happy, positive people. Devote yourself to your relationships with family and friends. People are what make life meaningful, and the support that close friends and family offer you during stressful times is invaluable.
  • Offer a helping hand. Volunteering to help people less fortunate than ourselves automatically fosters feelings of gratitude.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s okay to rely on family and friends to help you out. They likely won’t mind since it’s always good to feel needed. And you can always return the favor. 
  • Be physically active every day. Being active can help you stay mentally positive by releasing hormones linked with happiness (called endorphins). You may also feel better about yourself when you are more physically fit. 
  • Get a pet! Petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure. Plus, caring for pets can be an emotionally rewarding and physically active experience. 
  • Savor life’s pleasures and wonders. Keep long-term goals in mind, but try to live in the moment and not worry excessively about the future. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, you can enhance or "practice" happiness through meditation. Experiences also make us happy. In fact, in the long run, gaining memories through experiences such as travel give you a bigger happiness boost than acquiring possessions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.