I’ve often been called one of those glass-is-half-full kind of guys. I’d have to agree. It’s probably one of the reasons I look forward to the International Day of Happiness every March. Yes, there is an official day to celebrate happiness, thanks to the United Nations and their efforts to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.
It might seem like a strange time to celebrate happiness, but I think we need it more than ever. Times are tough, social isolation is rampant, and mental health is more fragile than ever.
Three ways to add joy to your day
If you’re looking to find a little more joy in your day, I encourage you to try one of the actions below. They are as effective as they are simple, and each one is within your power to do, right now. You need only put them in to action.
1. Be kind
Being kind can do as much for you as it can for others. This is especially true when your kindness is in the form of volunteering. In fact, you may even benefit more from your generosity than the receipient. It’s a great win-win, so consider volunteering to make a difference in someone’s life … and yours.
More good news about the health benefits of kindness comes from happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD. Dr. Lyubomirsky is a distinquished professor at the University of California, Riverside, and has devoted much of her career to studying human happiness. Her research reveals that acts of kindess can not only leave you feeling happier, less anxious and less depressed, but kind gestures can also leave you feeling better physically.
Harvard researchers agree. In one study involving nearly 13,000 adults over 50 years of age, the researchers found participants who volunteered at least 100 hours per year over a four year period had a lower risk of mortality, were more physically active and were more optimistic than those who did not volunteer.
2. Make quality connections
We know that people who are most socially connected are happier, healthier and live longer. But, it’s not about the number of friends you have, it’s about the quality of your close relationships that matter. These findings have been confirmed by one of the longest longitudinal studies ever performed, the Harvard Study of Adult Development. It’s a fascinating look (both forward and back) into healthful aging. The study began in 1938 and tracked the lives of over 720 men from their teens to old age (documenting their careers, personal lives, health and more). The study continues today with researchers now following the children of these men to see how childhood predicts how they will age.
This study also found that good relationships protect the brain. Men who reported having someone they could count on during tough times stayed sharper mentally and reported no decline in happiness compared to the men lacking such a close relationship.
The bottom line is what really matters is the quality and depth of our relationships. People who nurture good relationships are happier.
It takes commitment to build deep connections with others, but the effort is well worth it. Consider replacing ubiquitous screen time with people time. Give people your full, undivided attention. It really is such a gift. So often we are distracted and our attention is pulled away. Think of your presence as a gift of health and happiness, because it literally is!
3. Follow your passion
You’re sure to find more happiness when you follow your passion. In one study, university researchers found pursuing a passion contributes to greater overall happiness and helps reduce stress. Now could be a great time to start something that you’ve always wanted to do, but felt you didn’t have the time. Are you interested in learning a language, playing a musical instrument, starting a garden, painting, taking morning nature walks, or another personal desire?
One of my father’s passions was working in his laboratory, experimenting and learning something new everyday. Looking back, I believe he was probably happiest in his lab because it’s where he could work on new discoveries and create the products he loved, products that he believed made a difference in people’s lives. Of course, his passion led him to introduce what is believed to be the first multivitamin/multimineral food supplement in the North American marketplace back in 1934.
For me, I have to say that I’ve been blessed during this journey of life. Francesca and I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who share our passion for healthy living. Every day is a new day full of possibilities.
I hope you join me on March 20 to celebrate the International Day of Happiness, but more importantly, I hope you embrace those little moments of happiness in everyday life. The sunshine on your shoulders, an invigorating walk in nature, the laughter around the table, a gesture of kindness, or a heart-to-heart talk with a dear friend.
After all, your health depends on it.