In this recession, how can anyone feel upbeat? Experts say the secret is to stop trying to fill your days with moments of pleasure.
Tips for being happier:
1. Spend $20 on an experience rather than an item. “Wonderful experiences remind us of the thrill of being alive, whereas purchasing something inevitably leads to comparisons,” says Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.
2. Keep friends around. “It doesn’t matter if you have 3,000 Facebook friends or two close buddies,” says Todd Kashdan, a professor of positive psychology at George Mason University. “You only need to have that sense of belonging or acceptance.” Surround yourself with cheerful individuals.
3. Remain grateful. Being grateful improves happiness. You can conjure those feelings by spending time with the less fortunate.
4. Start an optimism journal. “It’s like diet and exercise—you get out of it the effort that you put into it,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness. You can start simple. “Every time something bad happens, think of one positive side to it,” she suggests. “It’s really hard at first, but then it gets easier.”
5. Get out and sweat. Studies indicate that burning off 350 calories three times a week in sustained, sweat-inducing activity can help reduce symptoms of depression.
6. Practice acts of kindness. “These little acts give you a sense of purpose beyond money that you’ve earned,” Kashdan says. “These acts of kindness are occurring all the time and remind us that we live in a benevolent society.”
— Adapted from “10 secrets to finding happiness during the recession,” Deborah Kotz, U.S. News and World Report.