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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

10 Simple Ways To Live a Longer and Happier Life

10 Simple Ways To Live a Longer and Happier Life

We’d all like to know “the secret” for how to live longer and happier. Turns out, it’s not much of a secret after all.

So how to live a happy life? Do these 10 things and you will live a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

1. Eat Healthy Foods

It’s no surprise that people who live longer tend to eat healthier. Yes, junk food tastes good, but the simple truth is this: the easiest way to live a longer life is to eat the right foods.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: make sure 80 percent of the foods you eat (or more) come straight from nature. This means “real food” like vegetables, fruits, lean meat and dairy, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Skip the processed crap and fast food. It’s taking years off your life (and life off your years).

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2. Get Enough Sleep

If you want to be successful in life, don’t dismiss the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleeping 5 hours or less per night may decrease your life expectancy by as much as 15 percent.[1] So get a full 7 or 8 hours of shut-eye per night.

3. Quit Smoking Now

If you’re a smoker, you can expect to die 7 years sooner than the average person.[2] And the sooner you stop, the more likely you’ll be to add years to your life.

4. Stay Physically Active

Fact: exercise can help you live longer and stay happier. Even if it’s just 15-20 minutes each day, a little goes a long way.

And here’s another reason to stay motivated: a study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Labor Research found that people who exercise on a regular basis make 9 percent more in salary than their sedentary counterparts. Show me the money!

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5. Be Social

Socializing is an important part of living a long and healthy life, even for you introverts out there. So plan a lunch date with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Call an aunt, uncle, or cousin you’ve lost touch with.

Force yourself to go to the work happy hour and have a drink. Get out there and interact with others and you’re bound to meet some fascinating folks who will bring joy into your life.

6. Have a Couple of Drinks, but Not Too Many.

Here’s the best advice you’ll ever get on how to live longer. People who don’t smoke, exercise, eat five servings of fruits and veggies per day, and drink a moderate amount of alcohol live an average of 14 years longer than those who don’t.

So what does “moderation” mean? According to most health experts, up to 2 drinks per day. Drinking moderately can even protect against cardiovascular disease,[3] so break out the bubbly (just put the bottle down after you’ve had a couple).

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7. Dream Big

Happy people are dreamers. They set their sights high and aren’t afraid to fail. In fact, they embrace failure because they know it’s an essential part of growing and improving. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars.

8. Stay Thirsty for Knowledge

People who live long, fulfilling lives share this in common: they learn as much as they can about as much as they can.

Your education doesn’t end with school. Make it a point to learn something new each day. Read new types of books. Research different topics that interest you online. Have lunch with a friend who knows a lot about something you don’t know anything about.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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9. Make Time for Friends and Family

Ask 100 people what’s the most important thing in their life, and “family and friends” will be the number one answer for most.

The problem is, it’s easy to get caught up in the trivial moments of day-to-day life and lose track of what’s important to us. Even if you’re crazy busy, block out time on your schedule to spend with family and friends. Spending time with them is what makes life worth living. Don’t lose track of your priorities in life and yours will be a longer and happier one.

10. Be Thankful for What You Have

Too many of us focus on what we don’t have instead of looking at all the great things going on right in front of us. One study found that people who consciously focus on gratitude were happier, more optimistic, and even slept better than those who didn’t.[4]

So be grateful. Try these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

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Practice kindness. And say “thanks” to the people who have had a positive influence on you. Those are the real secrets to a living a longer, more fulfilling life.

More About Happiness

Featured photo credit: Antevasin Nguyen via unsplash.com

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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