In prior blogs we’ve stressed the notion that happiness is an important condition for and component of wellness. This was noted within the context of many different studies pointing out an alarming decrease in the happiness factor in the U.S. at this time. In this article, we’ll explore one simple technique suggested by Dr. Joseph Mercola and which anyone can practice to begin elevating our personal happiness index immediately.
Of course, there are many reasons for why we may not be able to say we’re happy or well satisfied with our lives. These reasons can include physical factors affecting our physical, mental and emotional health and vitality. It is always best to seek the counsel of a more holistic-oriented healthcare practitioner who will look at all areas of your life with the goal of pinpointing any possible physical causes such as brain chemical/hormonal imbalance for profound unhappiness. Barring these, let’s look at what Dr. Mercola’s key concept for creating happiness.
In his daily newsletter of August 9, Mercola reminds us that “only 1 in 3 Americans reports being ‘very happy,’ and nearly 1 in 4 experience no life enjoyment at all.” This sorry state has motivated a number of authors and researchers to find ways to combat what can be seen as a psychological dysfunction. Fortunately, there's hope.
As Mercola states,
“small changes in perspective and behavior can add up over time, and practicing gratitude is at the top of the list of strategies known to boost happiness and life satisfaction.”
That prospect is worth focusing on, particularly since it is not only a way to improve satisfaction in our lives but because, as proven by recent research, it also actually produces clear health benefits.
“enhancing your health and well-being, then, may be as simple as taking the time each day to reflect on what you're thankful for.”
Here are the salient points from the Mercola article entitled, “Gratitude Makes You Healthier, Happier and More Popular.”
Enriching relationships are key to happiness.
When we appreciate our relationships it increases both our relationship experience and satisfaction. In turn, our sense of pleasure is boosted which reduces stress. Finally, the more we appreciate our relationships, the more we are able to meaningfully expand our social circle.
Gratitude for everyday things helps us to become better people. Just by feeling gratitude for the everyday little things in life, we become more patient and organically strength our willpower enabling us to make better decisions in every arena of our lives.
Gratitude is a form of generosity which is linked to happiness.
Whenever we give to another no matter how small the gift or gesture we get happier.
Gratitude has been shown to combat depression.
“Experiments have demonstrated that getting in the habit of listing three things you're grateful for each day results in considerable improvements in depression, sometimes in as little as two weeks.”
Gratitude has antidepressive effects, it helps regulate mood-regulating chemicals, reduces stress, improves work performance and enhances emotional resiliency.
Grateful people tend to pursue health enhancing activities and good self-care.
As a result of a consistent practice of appreciation, all sorts of physical benefits result such as better quality of sleep, improved cardiovascular health, reduced pain and inflammation, better mental and stronger immune function.
Dr. Mercola offers a number of methods for cultivating happiness and you may come up with your own unique ways. Some of Mercola’s suggestions include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal—
“Focus on the benevolence of other people. Doing so will increase your sense of being supported by life and decrease unnecessary anxiety. Also, focus on what you have received rather than what's been withheld.” —Robert Emmons, founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology
- Writing thank you notes—Show others your appreciation in writing often. This isn’t done very much these days so the impact you’ll make on the one you write to will probably be significant.
- Saying grace at mealtime—Foster your connection to the food and the earth that gives you life.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff—Most centenarians interviewed say that the key to their longevity and happiness is that they learned how to let things go. Always see the bigger picture. This will help you realize it’s not worth it to angst over most of what worries you and it will help you grow and evolve in a satisfying way.
- Follow your own counsel—If you’ve got a problem or are facing a dreaded issue, what advice would you give to someone else if they came to you with that same situation? You should probably follow it.
- Express yourself nonverbally—A soft and caring touch, a hug, a smile—all these will not only positively affect the receiver, they will affect you as well.
- Become more selfless—Give genuine ‘other-directed’ compliments often.
“Research shows that using ‘other-praising’ phrases are far more effective than ‘self-beneficial’ phrases. For example, praising a partner saying, ‘thank you for going out of your way to do this,’ is more powerful than a compliment framed in terms of how you benefited, such as ‘it makes me happy when you do that.’”
- Practice being in the now moment—Make prayers of appreciation or follow a mindfulness meditation practice to develop a habit of lingering in the now moment of safety and peace.
- Make a nightly ritual of appreciation—These can be any activity you create to reinforce your appreciation for everything in your life such as a gratitude jar where you add notes of gratitude on a daily basis.
- Put your money into experiences rather than things—
“… spending money on experiences not only generates more gratitude than material consumption. It also motivates greater generosity.”
- The key to happiness is learning to appreciate what we have, do and are in the moment.
- Running after more money does not necessarily bring happiness. Once we learn to appreciate what we have right now, we allow more abundance to come. When that increased abundance comes, we’re ready to receive and utilize it in a healthy way.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help—Look into this simple meridian tapping technique that is proven to alleviate emotional stresses and restore inner balance and healing.
Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Gratitude Makes You Healthier, Happier and More Popular.” Mercola.com, Mercola.com, 9 Aug. 2018, articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/08/09/gratitude-benefits.aspx?utm_source=dnl.