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The 7 Secrets of Highly Happy People

The 7 Secrets of Highly Happy People

Happiness is not something easily measured. After all, it is truly in the eyes of the beholder, and depends so much on our perspective of life. Happiness is not a one-size-fits-all concept!

That being said, there are some common elements of highly happy people. Happy people who have unlocked the secrets of happiness have the seven characteristics below. How many do you have? Take the short quiz at the end to find out! 

Secret #1 Highly happy people stop looking on the outside for what they need to find within.

They understand material things, and even people, could never be the key to their happiness. While they realize the importance of loving and supportive relationships, they never expect to find themselves in someone else, and never lose themselves trying to find someone else. In fact, highly happy people realize that over-dependence on others is actually the fast track to unhappiness and even relationship problems. They know that depending on others for happiness can be the source of unimaginable conflict, bitterness, blame and perpetual disappointment.

Highly happy people also are not fooled that ‘things’ –  such as fancy cars, expensive clothes and posh vacations – are the places where true happiness is found. They know all too well that when you base your happiness on mostly outside things, you can still feel empty within.

Secret #2 Highly happy people really, really like themselves.

Happy people have a foundation of self-love. Those who listen to negative messages in their head that they are not “smart enough,” attractive enough,” “lovable enough” and just plain not “good enough” end up spending their lives wanting to be someone else. Rather than be the best they can be, unhappy people spend futile time comparing themselves to others.

On the other hand, happy people would agree that it is wiser to compare themselves only to themselves and measure their progress over where they were yesterday. Yet, they are not unrealistic and expect their self-love to improve in a straight line.

Happy people know that comparing self-worth to others is risky business – there will always be someone wealthier, prettier, more popular, with smarter kids, better jobs and nicer cars. They realize that if you measure yourself against someone else’s yardstick, you will always come up short. Therefore, instead of trying to be like someone they admire, they learn from them.

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People who are happy with themselves don’t need power over others to feel good about themselves. They also live by the motto that, “No one has power over you unless you give it to them!”

Secret #3 Highly happy people fully realize that there are some things they will never get over.

People who are highly happy don’t expect life to always go smoothly, and realize that life’s happiness does not go on without interruptions: that in fact, a full life has times of great sadness. They are the last people to tell others to, “Get over it,” and are also patient with themselves in navigating through challenging times. They realize that there are some things so terrible in life that the best we can do is get through. They regard life-altering events – such as death of a loved one, a huge failure or career setback, relationship break ups, health challenges and life altering disabilities – as some of the issues that sever life into “before” and “after.” Rather than rail against life’s injustice, highly happy people learn that there still can be beauty and happiness after loss. They refuse to let major setbacks define the rest of their lives, and they find beauty on the other side of even a major trauma and loss. In essence, they deepen rather than weaken.

Secret #4 Highly happy people know the difference between ‘denial’ and ‘optimism’.

Highly happy people are not ones to live in denial when things bother them, but rather they are open and honest to themselves and others, and do not hide from themselves or their feelings. They have confidence in themselves that they can make a positive spin on almost anything that happens, without pretending to feel something they don’t. Rather than shrugging their feelings off, or pretending that they don’t care, they address their feelings and thoughts head on. Instead of blocking difficult thoughts and feelings with a ‘don’t worry about it’ mentality, they have faith in themselves to work though difficult feelings and find a lesson or silver lining. They don’t have ‘all or nothing’ thinking where they either gloss over their feelings or judge or berate themselves for feeling down. They focus more on how they get up after falling rather than how they fell down. They tend to ask themselves, “What did I learn?” Rather than, “What was I thinking?” 

Secret #5 Highly happy people realize the importance of being open to others rather than shutting down.

Humans are social creatures, and happy people tend to have strong bonds of friendship and closeness with family and friends. They seek support in good times and bad. Their network increases with passing years, valuing seasoned relationships while opening themselves up to new ones. They value relationships and do not take them for granted. They find they feel best when helping and giving to others, and allow others to help them, too.

The one thing that highly happy people do not do is to spend much energy trying to protect themselves from being hurt. Rather, they have enough confidence in themselves that looking to others for warmth, comfort and support has more potential to make them stronger, not weaker. They trust others, but realize the foundation for trusting others is trusting themselves. Using the analogy of a being a passenger on a rowboat in the middle of a lake, you will be more likely to trust the person rowing if you can swim.

Secret #6 Highly happy people are not bitter, but get better by forgiving.

Realizing the difference between condoning behavior and forgiving it, they don’t hold grudges because bitterness only hurts them – not the other person. They have long accepted the notion that people can only be as healthy as they are inside, and can not give you what they don’t have to give. It’s like expecting a door to be a chair, and expecting to get eggs at a hair salon. It just won’t happen.

They observe too many wasted years that people spend wishing, expecting, condemning and being angry because their loved ones, co-workers, friends and society can’t give them what they want or deserve. Rather than getting caught in the way others and even life itself ‘should’ be, they adjust their expectations, and let go of the rest. Sometimes that entails setting much better limits with toxic people in their lives, and in the case of abuse, to discontinue a relationship altogether.

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Highly happy people extend the courtesy of forgiveness also to themselves, and forgive themselves for not knowing then what they do now.  

Secret #7 Highly happy people live life looking and moving forward, not backwards.

Highly happy people learn from the past, they don’t live in it. They don’t get stuck in ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ thinking. They forgive themselves for not having the foresight to have what is now so obvious in hindsight. Instead of focusing on wondering, “Why,” they focus on, “What’s next?” They also do not live wishing for the ‘good old days’. They are too busy making memories now to live in the old ones, no matter how good they were. Old snapshots have a place in life, but they don’t want to be stuck there.  Powered by yesterday, with an eye on the future, today becomes the place to live.

Imagine yourself driving a car. You would not get very far driving through the rear view mirror!

So how about you?

Are you a highly happy person? Below is a quick quiz to see where you are on the continuum from highly miserable to highly happy. The higher the score, the more you are likely to be highly happy. Let us know how you do, and what you have to work on to increase your happiness quotient!

 

Quiz: Are you highly happy?

Rate each of the seven items on what best characterizes you. The higher you score, the happier you are! Use this quiz often as a way of measuring your ‘happiness quotient’, comparing your score only to your previous scores. If you score on the lower side, be easy on yourself. The idea is to keep moving forward and increasing your happiness quotient!

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Not True At All                                                                  Very True

____________________________________________________________________________________

1                       2                       3                     4                     5

 

1. _____ I don’t look for my inner happiness in outside things.

2. _____ I really love and value myself, and see this as a foundation for really loving others.

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3. _____ I regard challenges as opportunities to grow and deepen, and develop resiliency.

4. _____ I stay positive and optimistic, and try to make the best out of even the most troubling situations.

5. _____ I seek and give support to others, and widen my social network as I grow.

6. _____ I am able to forgive and don’t hold grudges, while setting limits on those who treat me poorly.

7. _____ I live life mindfully now, learning from yesterday with an eye towards moving forward into tomorrow.

More by this author

Judy Belmont

Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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