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How To Be Happier: Advice from BNET Readers

Last week, I wrote a post about research from Stanford and Wharton on scientifically proven ways to be happier. That study identified five basic strategies:

  • Spend time with the right people
  • Engage in "socially connecting" activities.
  • Daydream
  • Focus on the "here and now."
  • Be aware that your perception of happiness will change as you age
The response from BNET readers was overwhelming (which made me happy). Best of all, BNET readers shared their tips for increasing their own happiness.

Here's a sampling. I hope some of them work for you!

  • Write down your happy moments. Tim Noyce says he finds "great value" in journaling happy moments or achievements. It's easy to forget powerfully positive moments, he says. Reading them in a journal is emotionally uplifting.
  • Take a look at the big picture. Jenyj89 says having breast cancer in 2009 made her reassess her priorities. "Your family should be your WORLD," she wrote.
  • Believe in a higher power. Several readers, among them Calil West and 2TallTexan, mentioned the power of God to instill happiness2TallTexan says a belief in the supernatural increases happiness, and that children who believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy are happier than those who don't.
  • Work out. DataDude1 says he would add "staying physical... Take a break from the computer!"AirGate Solutions agrees: "Get out and exercise!" From Manabozho: "Exercise is huge."
  • Do good deeds. Deancubed said, even if you don't volunteer, "trying at least once per day to do something nice for someone else outside of the norm is a great way to uplift your spirits."
  • Find a hobby. Nigel.colter says having a hobby has been "a great source of happiness." And he notes that it's widened his social circle as well.
  • Become an entrepreneur, if you hate your job, Mike Van Horn says.
  • Jay Taffet writes, "Avoid spam email from the mind." He says we internalize thoughts like "I'm upset" "I'm anxious" even though we would never say "I'm a hurt elbow" or "I'm a sore knee." We consider what's going on with our physical self differently than we do our mental self, even though both kinds of mental messages--"I'm upset" and "I'm a hurt elbow"-- can be ignored if we work at it.
  • Bentonsmom makes a related point: "Your brain responds to what you tell it and this includes the attitude and emotion you say it with... If you tell yourself you are going to have a great day, you will." She also suggests living with compassion for those around you (hard to argue with that one).
  • Jim.marks references the work of academic Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology and author renowned for his work in the area of positive psychology. His suggestion: Set appropriate goals that provide immediate feedback and measurable progress.
  • Lyndsay Katauskas recommends women keep a "Have-done" list, or reiterate their accomplishments to a partner each day, to combat the stress of a never-ending "To-Do" list.
  • Finally, from Mvanderford: "Don't forget the benefits of a good night's sleep." Hear ye, hear ye.
Any we've missed? Or is everyone happy now?

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Photo courtesy flickr user DownTown Pictures
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance editor and writer. Follow her at www.twitter.com/weisul
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