Self-Care Challenge (Day 235): Understanding the Science of Happiness

Time Magazine Cover

On day 235 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I set out to better understand the science of happiness.

I don’t buy a ton of magazines these days, but while standing in the check-out line at the grocery store the other day, one caught my eye. It was the Time special edition on the science of happiness.

Yes, please!

I immediately needed to know more.

As I flipped through the pages, a series of questions flooded my mind:

Which comes first, health or happiness? Since happy people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, is it happiness that led them to behave in such a way, or was it their good health that enabled them to do so, thus making them happier?

There is still a lot we don’t yet understand when it comes to the recipe for happiness, but it seems that there are some common threads. How we think is a huge determinant of our happiness. Those who have difficulty letting go of emotions (often referred to as ruminators), have been found to experience higher levels of anxiety and depression.

So, how can you increase your happiness?

Surround yourself with a supportive network. We find strength and inspiration in one another, which is why it’s essential to build a network of supportive people.

Use your strengths. When we find ways to use our skills and strengths, we experience a greater sense of joy and happiness.

Smile. Yes, it appears that plastering a smile on your face – even if it’s a fake one – does act as a mood booster.

Practice self-care. For women, happiness appears to decline around age 40, especially so for women who are raising children, since “me” time is anything but plentiful. The good news is that happiness seems to rebound as the next decade comes into view. Not surprisingly, this correlates with having more opportunities to practice self-care.

What is your recipe for happiness?

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