More Lessons From The Blue Zones of Happiness
As 2017 winds down and we all look back on what has or hasn’t been working in our lives this past year, it’s good to have some guidance from the experts about how to be happier.
This post continues last week’s blog post, which reviewed some of the ideas presented in the November National Geographic cover story, “These Are The World’s Happiest Places”, by Dan Buettner. This week I am giving you a few of the additional ideas he presents in his new book, The Blue Zones of Happiness.
Much of the book centers around the the places he found that scored the highest in happiness: Costa Rica, Denmark, and Singapore, and how we can design communities that emulate the strategies these countries use to build the happiness of their residents.
Moreover, there are lessons we can learn from these communities about things we can do on an individual level to increase our own personal happiness, regardless of where we live.
Here are 5 more lifehacks that you can put on your list for 2018 to make the coming year even better!
1. Nurture your relationship with your Significant Other.
Studies show that our relationship with our SO can account for up to 90% of our happiness level. It’s worth thinking for a minute about your relationship with your partner. Is there some area that didn’t get enough attention in 2017?
Maybe you spent the majority of your time together collapsed in front of the TV, exhausted from a long day at work. Or maybe you spent all your time together talking about the kids. If this is the case, make sure to plan some time to spend together away from the house, just the two of you.
It doesn’t have to be dramatic– it’s much more important that it’s regular. A weekly walk together where you don’t talk “business” can make a difference and bring you closer.
2. Find some friends at work.
Two-thirds of Americans report that they have too much stress at work.
One of the things that most improves quality of work experience, is having a best friend at work. So– cultivate friendships with your co-workers to improve your job satisfaction. Attend company get-togethers and celebrations. The more you get to know your co-workers on a personal level, the happier you will be at work.
3. Sleep 7 1/2 to 9 hours a night.
Turns out that a good night’s sleep is good for you in all kinds of ways.
Americans tend to dismiss sleep as a waste of time; people often “compete” with friends and co-workers about how little sleep they got the night before! This is unfortunate, as studies show that sufficient sleep makes you both healthier and happier. And everyone knows that we look better and feel better after a good night’s sleep!
Arianna Huffington wrote a book called The Sleep Revolution after collapsing from exhaustion in 2007. She has become a crusader for the importance of sleep for health and happiness. Her book is excellent, but if you would like to read something shorter, you can find information and resources here on how to get enough sleep this holiday season.
4. Open your home to Nature.
Studies show that exposure to nature has specific health benefits. The Japanese have a practice of contemplative walks in the woods known as “shin-rin yoku”, or “forest bathing”, which has been shown to lower stress, improve mood, and even build your immune system!
You can bring some of the positive benefits of nature to your home by working in the garden, or even by nurturing some houseplants.
Also, try to bring as much natural light as possible into your home. Buy some full-spectrum bulbs to lighten any dark areas.
And finally, just in time for New Year’s Resolutions:
5. Create meaningful goals and regularly measure your progress.
This is the time of year when creating goals (or “resolutions”) is already on everyone’s mind. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable, and reflect your personal values. Use the previous suggestions as a guideline, and also consider the areas discussed in last week’s blog about how to increase your happiness.
Be sure to set up a time frame for measuring your progress. Studies show that regular progress toward a goal is more important than the goal itself, but don’t worry about intermediate setbacks; progress is never in a straight line!
If you missed the first article in the series, Here's the link for 10 Lessons From the Happiest People In the World.
Need A Little Extra Help Getting Happy?
When you’ve tried everything you can think of, and you still struggle with anxiety, depression, or relationships with your loved ones, therapy can be a great option. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation about how therapy can help you with your specific concerns. If I can’t help, I will help you find someone who can!