If you’re in a place in life where you look around you and think, “I’ve got everything I ever wanted, so why aren’t I happy,” this article’s for you. Dan Buettner, the author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way has researched what makes people happy. He’s come up with a short list of how to bring more joy into your life, based on his studies.
Here are his suggestions, along with my spin on how to get happy and improve emotional health:
1-Live in a place that’s right for you. Interestingly, the research tells us that most people find joy living in a place that has lots of sun and people. Living on water also brings plenty of cheer, or so they say. But what if you’re a person who loves to bundle up and go snow-skiing? I’ve met some people over the years who’ve said they would “hate” to live in Florida because of the heat. So, even if the research says to seek sun and water, those elements of living may not make you happy. Look for “the place” that you believe will bring whatever it is you’re looking for.
2-Use the mornings to achieve things that make you feel positive. Buettner suggests (AARP website) that if you have a decent night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and engage in physical exercise for a half-hour, you’ll likely feel happier than those who didn’t do those three things.
Although I love to sleep late and would love to dispute this suggestion of Buettner’s, the fact is that even when a night owl like me arises earlier (between 7:00 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.), eats a healthy breakfast of yogurt and blueberries, and takes a brisk 45 minute walk after sleeping a full eight hours, I feel fantastic!
If you love sleeping in until 10:00 a.m., you could institute these suggestions a bit later in the day. Keep in mind, though, that when you enjoy a good breakfast and conquer your exercise before 9:00 a.m., you might feel like a million bucks.
3-Save your pennies. I thoroughly agree with what Buettner (NPR website) discovered in his longevity research: saving money makes people happier than spending money. I know some of you out there reading this are thinking, “Huh?” but it’s true. When you cease shopping and begin to watch your money rise, feelings of financial security will improve your emotional health. Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to have a nice cushion of cash and not have to worry about your future. Try it, you’ll like it.
4-Make your living space fit you (and make sure it’s sunny). As a mental health therapist, I firmly believe that when you create spaces in your home where you can engage in the activities you love, that’s painted with colors you adore, you’ll enjoy life more. Also, make the room nice and bright. Design home spaces that make you feel good.
5-Reduce your stress with a pup. It’s a stretch for me to believe that I would be happier if I had a dog, but the research tells us that people who do have less stress and a healthier blood pressure. Of course, before you get a dog, you should be sure you’ve got the money, the time, and the desire to provide good care for it. I’m not so sure that this suggestion would work for everyone.
Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, Dan Buettner, book