6 ways to be happier

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

No. 1  — Give thanks
Happy people aren’t smarter or richer than their peers, but they are more grateful and often have these characteristics. Don’t save it for Thanksgiving. Let people know that you’re grateful for their help. Practice being grateful about something at least once a day.
No. 2  — Focus on physical activity
You don’t need to run marathons to reap the benefits of exercise. Even short workouts release certain brain chemicals that create feelings of joy and contentment. Go on a walk with your honey, then see No. 4.
No. 3  — Eat feel-good foods
While there’s no “happiness diet,” some foods — like Thanksgiving turkey — can give your mood a lift and may help ward off depression. Also included in the “feel good” mood category are bananas, fish oil, turmeric (curcumin), purple berries, and caffeine (in moderation). Stay away from refined sugar because blood sugar ups and downs can cause crankiness.
No. 4  — Snuggle up
Touching and hugging can release your body’s natural “feel-good hormone.” Plus, sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem and happiness, among other health perks. From lowering blood pressure and heart rate to increasing immune function and relieving pain, getting touched or doing some touching makes you healthier. Don’t have a snuggle partner? Get a massage, volunteer at a retirement home (a place often filled with those who need a hug!), or cuddle with your pet.
No. 5— Give back
As little as two hours of volunteering a week can give you that happy glow known as the “helper’s high.” Think Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the local library, food pantries, national parks, and animal shelters.
No. 6  — Tune in
Listening to music can provide an emotional pick-me-up, but choose wisely. Some songs may bring you down, but studies have shown a good beat can ease anxiety, lower stress and even boost heart health. Some suggestions? Wham! — Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Katrina & the Waves  — Walking On Sunshine, Bruno Mars  — The Lazy Song, U2 — Beautiful Day, Pharrell Williams — Happy, and Beyonce — Love On Top.
— Submitted by Laura DePaola