Get the happiness habit!

Get the happiness habit!

Firstly, good health may be one of the strongest predictors of happiness. Interestingly, this hinges more on how we feel about ourselves over medical assessment results. Feeling healthy and robust from perhaps a good diet, regular exercise and sleeping pattern contributes significantly to overall wellbeing.

 Regular exercise can help improve your mood- particularly aerobic exercise which can have results similar to antidepressants, on mild to moderate depression.

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It's a two way street. Happy, contented, optimistic people tend to be healthier, have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, living longer than pessimistic, angry people.

Secondly, religion - having a faith or spirituality – can also be linked to enhanced happiness and well being. Similarly, having a strong partnership or happy marriage, firm family bonds and friendships can also contribute significantly.

Thirdly, age - happiness tends to increase incrementally with age - 5 per cent each decade! And while less than a third of 18 year olds would describe themselves as happy, almost half of 80-somethings would.

As for making millions, no, money isn’t the answer. Lottery winners are no happier than the rest of us, and accumulating money itself doesn't confer happiness unless it helps offset those stress-inducing recession debts and facilitates pleasurable activities.

On the other hand, being unemployed or 'unfulfilled', or having untapped potential can be a major impediment to happiness.

 3 steps to a happier you

The good news is, it is actually possible to make yourself a happier person.
1. Do - rather than daydream

Much unhappiness stems from our ability to spend a lot of time 'inside our heads' and not noticing what's going on around us. Because the human mind is able to focus on things that aren't happening right now, we can rush around on automatic pilot at the same time as we are reflecting, worrying, analysing, anticipating, recalling, planning and comparing - and brooding.
Professor Williams says the antidote to this is mindfulness - 'it's about being back in touch with your senses, so you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste things as
if for the first time.
You can train yourself to start doing this by bringing your full attention to small every day acts. Learning this kind of regular mindfulness, or 'being in the moment', has been found to reduce cardiovascular mortality and prevent depression. depression

2. Find pleasure

Pleasure doesn't equal happiness, but if experience enough pleasurable moments then already we're tipping the happiness/unhappiness balance in our favour.
The aim is to consciously schedule events and surround ourselves with people that give us joy and pleasure.
Dr Ben-Shahar recommends making a list of 'rituals' that can make you happier. It could be exercising three times a week, meditating for 15 minutes a day, watching two films a month, going out for dinner with your partner every Thursday, or reading for an hour a day. Introduce no more than two rituals at a time and make sure they become habits before you create new ones.

3. Find meaning

People who focus on leading a meaningful life tend to be happier than those of us who strive for short term good times, explains Dr Ben-Shahar. The key is to have a long term goal to focus on, plus shorter term goals along the way.
He recommends making a list of things that are meaningful and pleasurable to you.

Then next to each item on your list, write down how much time you devote to it. Doing this is helpful to determine whether or not there's integrity between your highest values and the way you live. As with increased integrity comes increased happiness.

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