Smiling Can Help you Becom Happier

What is happiness? Happiness is said to be a state of mind where a person feels satisfaction, pleasure, or contentment. Studies have been conducted to determine what causes or effects happiness. These studies have focused on biological, psychological, philosophical and religious issues.

In a recent study researchers found that 50% of a person's happiness is dependent on one's DNA or genes, but don't be dis-heartened. Another 10 – 15% was attributed to a persons life circumstances such as socio-economic status, employment status, or marital status. That leaves 35 – 40% of ones happiness that is determined by a persons direct actions to effect their happiness. For example exercising, eating a healthy diet, or making a concerted effort to have fun through activities. The action of attempting to enjoy life may also directly or indirectly affect ones socio-economic status, employment status, and other life circumstances. In essence a person should be able to effect up to 50% of their happiness.

Research has also shown that older people tend to be happier than younger people. Whatever the reason older individuals had less stress from their careers, relationships, financial problems, and anger. So, teenagers, take heart life really does get sweeter with age.

Realistically we cannot be happy all of the time. A person has different moods that can be affected by circumstances and incidents beyond the control of an individual. An individual can effect their own happiness by taking positive steps towards that goal.

Here are just a few ideas about how an individual can take a proactive roll in increasing their level of happiness:

  1. Be optimistic – Don't automatically assume the worse all of the time. Some people try to protect themselves from failure by either not trying something or assuming it won't work out. This attitude can predetermine the outcome and eliminate any chance of success. Assume you will be successful and your confidence will show. Sometimes confidence is the edge you need in being successful.

  2. Trust your gut feeling. Your instinct is more important than you realize. Your 'gut feeling' or instinct is based upon knowledge you have gained through life experiences. Sometimes we over-analyze things and look at all the pros and cons and ignore our gut feeling.

  3. Forgive yourself – Many times we are our worst enemy when it comes to forgiveness. We may forgive others, but we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Let go the self-recrimination and vow to do better. You need to forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up emotionally. Say "I forgive myself".

  4. Stay close to family and a few close friends. Most people are happier when they keep in contact with their family. A few good friends to talk to and to socialize with is also important since we are social beings. Family can be a great support group when needed and usually with no-strings attached.

  5. Don't Take things too serious – It is important to be serious about certain things some of the time. However, not all things are as important as you would believe. Ask yourself, how important will this be in a day, week, month, year, or when I am old and gray. In the whole scheme of things there are only a few things that are really serious. Get in the habit of asking yourself the question.

  6. Learn when to say "yes" and when to say "no". Don't let people walk all over you or they will keep asking favors of you, say "no", you need that time to do what will really make you happy. Learn to say "yes" to what you want to do and have never allowed yourself the luxury of doing (take that class in photography, belly dancing, or floral arrangement).

  7. Smile – This is an easy one, yet many people forget to do this. Smile often, even when you don't feel particularly happy. The act of smiling may release endorphins and serotonin which are natural pain killers, helping you to feel good.

  8. Laugh – Again, similar to smiling, laughing may release endorphins and serotonin. Practice laughing even when you don't feel like it – you will feel silly doing this, which helps to elevate your mood. Watch a good comedy or listen to jokes and don't hold back.

  9. Learn to give and accept compliments. There is always something you can compliment someone on, try looking. Accept compliments graciously, say "thank you", don't assume there is an ulterior motive.

  10. Give a gift when it is not an anniversary, birthday or holiday. It doesn't have to be expensive. If you listen to what people are saying when they talk, many times they give clues or hints to what would make them happy.

  11. Try doing something that made you happy as a child. Children really know how to be happy. Try riding a merry-go-round, a swing, fly a kite, or watch a butterfly.

  12. Perform acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. Many people are kind because they expect something out of it or it is part of their job description. When you do something kind you will make at least two people's day better (yours and the person you were kind to). Acts of kindness can also be contagious, many times the person you were kind to will do the same for someone else.

  13. Turn on the music and dance. Dance by yourself, with your child, with your spouse or with family. It's amazing how contagious happiness is when you dance.

This is by all means not an exhausted list of things to do to make yourself happy. These are just some ideas to try. Enjoy the small things in life, the things you do every day and make yourself happy. Remember happiness can be contagious, so don't think that a goal of "being happy" is a selfish goal. It might be the best gift you could give your family and friends as well.