happiness

Improving happiness

Vanessa King is from Action for Happiness, an organisation that raises awareness of psychological well-being.  I was reading an article written by Vanessa over the weekend and am going to try some of the techniques/exercises that she recommends to increase happiness.

Exercise 1 – Notice The Good Things

Based on the theory that counting your blessings is really good for you an experiment was completed by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania.  Subjects were asked to note three good things that had happened to them that day and why they were good every night for a week.  Results showed increased happiness and reduced depressive symptoms for up to six months.  If you do this every night when you get into bed, it will not only help to improve sleep but retrain your brain to notice positives, which consequently breeds positive emotions and overall happiness.

Exercise 2 – Decide To Do Good

Write down any acts of kindness that you do over the course of a week and read them back to yourself on a Sunday evening to give yourself that warm sense of well-being all over again.  In an experiment, people who did five random acts of kindness per day boosted their mood for up to six weeks.  “When we do things for others the areas of our brain that light up are the same as when we get a reward” according to Vanessa.  There’s something about doing things for other people that cements our relationships with loved ones and connects us with strangers”.

Exercise 3 – Go Experience Shopping

Trying new things brings you lasting happiness as it creates new memories, enhances social networks and exercises the brain.  Spending money on new experiences is much more beneficial than the short term benefits of buying material possessions such as a new pair of shoes.  The pair of shoes will be just another purchase and you will soon want to go and buy the next thing that you don’t really need.  Try investing your money more wisely in your mental well-being by spending it on an experience.

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I've worked as an Occupational Therapist for many years dealing with physical and mental health patients, both in hospitals and the community. Living a healthy, well balanced life with a good diet, regular exercise and a taking a positive outlook are crucial to becoming a very well being indeed - sometimes easier said than done!

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