Health Column: A Dose of Happiness

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By Alecia Sexton

Staff Writer

Happiness does more than make us happy. True happiness has the power to give us confidence that we never knew we had and inspires us to be the best version of ourselves.

A blossoming tree in the Winnick garden

Experiencing joy or positive well-being combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile, according to clinical psychologist and Ph.D professor at Stanford University, Sonja Lyubomirsky, is harder to come by.

Research done by the American Psychological Association has concluded that one pathway to happiness, oddly enough, may be letting yourself experience negative emotions and thoughts without hesitation. Trying to suppress negative emotions and bottling up unpleasant thoughts have been shown to decrease energy levels and lead to a weakened immune system.

So, even though anger, jealousy, fear and worry are all wicked emotions to experience, it may be more beneficial to acknowledge the feeling, accept it, and let it pass.

Another consideration for happiness may be the overall outlook we have on life and on situations. When we go into situations anticipating them to go south, then, regardless of the actual outcome, they will be perceived to have gone south.

On the other hand, if we look at situations, even difficult ones, as being positive, or we consider what we may learn or get out of a difficult situation, then our thoughts and bodies reflect that and happiness results.

Dr. Lyubomirsky concluded in her article, “The Happiness Diet,” that reflecting on happy moments and thinking about loved ones for simply eight minutes per day can have a mind- set changing effect on our own happiness. Think of it as eight minutes of “training” to wire happiness neurons to your brain. Once they’re wired, then they can be used all day, everyday, leaving you feeling whole and fulfilled.

A good chunk of your happiness is in your own hands, what changes are you going make to ensure that life is ‘meaningful and worth-while’? The possibilities are endless.

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