It is fascinating to read about 900 working women who were asked to record what they had done the day before. Were they happy with what they noted down? Unfortunately, no! They were shocked to see how many things they had done that they hated doing. In other words, they were missing out on happiness. So, read this post to discover 10 things every woman needs for a happy life.
1. Savor happy moments
Instead of worrying all the time and fretting about getting from A to B, try savoring happy moments, feelings and sensations. Worries will do nothing for your happiness.
“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that—thoughts.” – Allan Lokos
Dr. Fred Bryant from Loyola University Chicago is an expert on this, and his book called Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, is well worth reading.
Why not try to prolong the pleasure on some of the following:
- Enjoy the smell and taste of coffee or other things you eat and drink. Turning off devices and TV really helps.
- Concentrate on the here and now.
- Note what you can be thankful for.
- Wallow in pleasant memories.
- Bask in the pride of having achieved a mini goal today.
These happy, savoring moments put worries in their place.
“What worries you, masters you.” – John Locke
2. Discover your favourite exercise
There’s no need to list all the health benefits of regular exercise here. But did you know that exercise can ward off depression and in some instances works better than antidepressants? Study after study shows how endorphins (often nicknamed the happy chemicals) are released in the brain after any type of exercise. Mood is improved and there is a general feeling of happiness. Don’t miss out on this marvellous tonic. Choose a sport you really like and you will be getting a dose of happiness on a regular basis.
3. Look after your friends
Did you know that the number of social contacts and friends you have affects your longevity, health and happiness? Support from friends in times of stress and the comfort and joy that they can bring are obvious indicators. About 5,000 adults were tracked for nine years in Alameda County (near San Francisco). Results showed that there was a definite correlation between the number of social contacts and healthy old age. Those who lived in isolation died younger.
4. You need a sense of humor
“A cigar may just be a cigar, but a joke is never just a joke.” – Sigmund Freud
Laughing at jokes, making jokes or just laughing at funny videos on YouTube are all ways of making you happier. It is true that you can use jokes to help lessen the pain of trauma, illness and mental stress. That is good for your happiness as humor helps you see the positive side of life and can make you more resilient. Watch this video and see how cancer patients who were happier and had a sense of humor had much better chances of recovery.
5. Reading helps you dream
Reading can inform you, help you fantasize, take you to exotic locations and is a wonderful escape valve. Have a list of books to help you reach your reading goals. We should also never forget to encourage our children to read from early on in life, so that they too will experience the joy of reading for:
6. Find a mentor
Many women in their careers need to have a mentor who can be there to guide, instruct, advise and encourage. This is a much more practical way to progress than admiring an idol from afar!
It is tempting to look for someone with a similar background and experience to your own. If you do that, they will not be so quick at identifying your weaknesses or needs. Try to be transparent about giving feedback on the outcome of their advice. Do not be afraid to tell them if you chose not to follow their suggestions.
7. Get a hobby or interest
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Director of the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University, has done some fascinating work on the study of happiness. He defines a deeply satisfying experience as a state of consciousness (‘flow’), which is the basic ingredient of happiness. One of the best ways of encouraging this state is to have a passion, interest or hobby: sport, art, literature, cooking or whatever. It is while you are absorbed in this activity that you can reach this state of flow. Best of all, you are unaware of time passing while doing it. It is one of the best recipes for happiness.
8. Build your self-esteem
Did you know that there is a part of the brain, the anterior cingulated cortex, that is particularly active in generating all those negative thoughts and all those doubts about your beauty, talents and intelligence? Guess what? In women this part of the brain is actually larger than in men! So there may be a neurological explanation for all those doubts that erode your self-esteem.
Read the book The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California in San Francisco, to understand more about this. To put it briefly, labels you inherit in childhood tend to stick, your failures take up far too much room in your brain and you end up having problems in building your self-esteem. The best way to combat all this is to start reading about female heroines who made their mark against all the odds. With time you can change your negative way of thinking and start singing your own praises for a change. You can ignore what magazines tell you that you should look like and find clothes that suit your body shape better.
9. Don’t forget loving relationships
Can surgery, sex or money make you happy? You have never had it so good in that you can choose your life partner and there is no obligation to enter marriage or have children, in most countries. Yet women in western society have to do a complicated juggling act to appear beautiful, to be successful at work, in marriage, and parenting, and running a home that meets with peer and family approval. This materialistic attitude forgets one important factor. The happiest women are those who are involved in loving relationships (family, partners or friends). You never worry too much about wearing the right shoes. You are far too involved in something much bigger than yourself.
10. Be grateful
Happy women feel grateful a lot of the time. You may keep a gratitude journal if that suits you. But the main thing is to think that life is a precious gift. Just say thank you as often as you can.
What makes happiness in your view? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured photo credit: Personal Excellence /Christine Chua via flickr.com