Yesterday I talked about the fact relationships rather than wealth seem to be key to our happiness. This morning I read through the transcript of an interesting PBS interview with sociologist Christine Carter: What Makes Us Happy? which affirmed much of what I said and thought your would appreciate her findings. I was intrigued by what she called happiness habits
- Regular exercise.
- Connecting to other people – evidently the strength of our ties to other people and I would add to God, is one of the best predictors of happiness.
- Gratitude and forgiveness contribute markedly to our happiness.
- Little acts of kindness, thinking of other people before ourselves tends to make us markedly happier in life.
And what about the habits we should avoid? This too was an intriguing list
- Materialism and consumption.
- Entitlement is a terrible habit of thinking. When we think we deserve something we don’t have be it a house, a car or a job we feel dissatisfied and often resentful.
Her advice on how to increase your happiness quotient could have come straight out of an exercise in contemplative practices or from my suggestions on taking a spiritual retreat. (yes I am harping on that again.)
I would advise you to do three things. One, take a moment to reflect on what you appreciate about your life today. Try and think of something that you haven’t thought of in the past that isn’t novel that you’re grateful for today. The second thing I would encourage you to do is to slow down a little bit and focus on one thing at a time. Really allow yourself to be mindful in each of your activities. Be really present instead of thinking about your next appointment while you’re in your current one. Slow down, focus on your breath a little bit and enjoy this moment. And the third piece of advice I’d give you about being happy today is to try and connect with as many people as you can.
You may wonder why I am so concerned about this issue. According to World Health Organization, globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. In the U.S. an estimated one in ten people are depressed.
So what are you doing to develop happiness habits today?