The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read: The Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. Part 3 of 3

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Welcome to part 3, the last of my series, The Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, please do. They are loaded with great tips as well. I broke this into three posts so readers would have a chance to digest each recommendation. Each one is important, and each one will work at increasing your happiness.

This is the more controversial of the three posts. As with parts 1 and 2, this post has a lot of good information. Some may not agree with everything, and may even have something against what I say, but give it a chance. Read it over, think about each point. You don’t have to agree with everything…these suggestions still work (although the verdict is still out on having kids) but they have to work for you, your personality and your beliefs. Here are the recommendations making up part 3 of The Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. Please pass this on.

Explore ways to relax – meditation techniques and yoga
Although it’s changing, there is a fear in some out there of both yoga and meditation. I’ve heard it said in response to recommending yoga, that it is a “slippery slope.” To where they think they might slide…I’m not sure.

Neither yoga or meditation are religions. They are techniques…practices. Meditation is the practice of slowing down, of taking time to not worry, to not be distracted, to enjoy the moment. There are many benefits of learning the principles and techniques of mindful meditation. By learning to focus on our breathing, we can calm ourselves in stressful situations so we can react appropriately. It can also help us focus on what’s important. A technique can be as simple as taking a slow deep breath while counting to five, then exhaling counting to three, and repeating this five times, thinking about the sensation of breathing while you are doing it. Try it. There are many good books and blog posts written on different techniques.

Yoga is a mindful exercise. I would even argue that it could be one of the most well rounded, most efficient, and beneficial exercises we can do. It often employs some of the meditative techniques during and at the end of a session. Start with beginners yoga and don’t get discouraged. We all have to start somewhere.

Slow down and enjoy the moment
Be aware, and present…thinking about what we are seeing and how we are interpreting what’s going on around us. Whether you’re playing with your kids, cooking dinner, or talking to your spouse, try and focus on what you are doing right then and there. Put your concerns aside about all the things you have to do, all the things that stress us out, and enjoy what you are doing.

Try to think the best of people
If something is said or done that could be interpreted in more than one way, try and give the person the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be naive and don’t be a doormat, but when ever possible, think the best of people.

Have pets
There are times when being a pet owner can be stressful, frustrating, expensive, and a lot of work, however, pets have an amazing way of lifting our spirits. The wag of a dog’s tail as you rub it’s head, the purr of a cat as it makes bread in your lap, fish coming to the surface when you feed them…they remind us that we make a difference. This is an important ingredient for achieving and maintaining happiness.

Show respect
There are many people we come across who have been through a lot. Whether it’s an elder, a veteran, someone who is trying their best, or someone who is just trying to get by. It may simply be someone who has been around and seen things we haven’t. Show them the respect they deserve. Slow down. Don’t rush them. Listen to what they have to say. Learn from them. It will likely make their day…and yours.

Spirituality
I throw this one in because it’s mentioned a lot in articles about happiness. There are some studies which support a notion that people who are spiritual are happier. I would suggest that it is not as important that we be religious or spiritual, but instead, that we be content with our beliefs in that area. We should all explore what spirituality means to us personally and continue to ask questions until we are content with our beliefs.

Be Organized…Intentional Living
I’ve had a number of periods in my life when I’ve felt overwhelmed…bogged down by overcommitments, deadlines, and demands on my time and mental energy. The more things pile up, the more we become stressed, scattered, and fragmented in our though processes, and at the same time, we become less productive. It’s a terrible feeling, but sadly, it’s all too common. It is human nature to desire some degree of control in our lives. If we feel we’ve lost this, hopelessness sets in.

One of the best ways to combat this is to be organized. Spend some time, every day, planning. What do you want to accomplish tomorrow? What about in the next week? What projects do you have hanging over you and what is the smallest next-action step that will move you forward on each. There are many great books on this. Even a little time organizing will lead to greater satisfaction in your accomplishments, give you more control over your life, less stress, and more happiness. Think of it as intentional living.

Have kids
Like spirituality, I’m mentioning this one because the topic of kids is often discussed in happiness books. It might come as a surprise that current research suggests that having kids makes us miserable. Well, okay…maybe not miserable, or at least not all the time…but couples with kids rate their happiness significantly lower than couples without kids. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there is no rebound. As far as I’ve found in the available research, there is no payback…our happiness returns to the same level as those that don’t have kids…once the kids move out! Sorry to break the mythical illusion passed down from generation to generation, that having kids is fantastic.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “I thought you were recommending we have kids.” I do, because I believe the research is flawed. It hasn’t been researched closely enough yet. Anyone who has had kids knows it is hard…in fact, it is damn hard, but it is rewarding. I believe that with kids, we have higher highs and lower lows. If you can ride out the lows, the rewards are like nothing I’ve experienced before. To watch your child take their first steps…okay, you’re still be in the zombie years then and just want to go to bed, but later…to watch them score a basket in basketball, to see the excitement in their eyes, to see them joking around with friends, to have them look up to you…you can’t explain the feeling. So I say to ignore the research we have so far, and continue to perpetuate what may turn out to be the greatest myth in human history.

Limit the things that bring you down
1. Beware the effects of the news.
If you are sensitive to what you hear and what is going on around you…and all of us are to some extent, limit how much of the news you are exposed to. This might seem unreasonable to some…like poking your head in the sand. However, mainstream news is inflammatory and designed to stimulate fear and concern, and is almost all negative. You do not need it. Believe me, if something important is happening, you’ll hear about it. You can quickly skim internet feeds if you want a brief, controlled summary, reducing some of the impact on your stress level. Also give some consideration to greatly reducing how much television you watch, altogether.

2. Limit the time you spend with people who are bringing you down.
This might sound selfish, but is it really? Think of all the people you come in contact with. Your partner, kids, family, co-workers…these are all people you can have a positive impact on. You need to have the mental energy to be there. Given the power of mindful actions, of acts of kindness, of being aware of how you can help each of these people by being present and happy, ask yourself, can we really afford to be brought down? I’m not saying don’t be there for someone in need, but I am saying be careful how much of yourself you donate to things that bring you down.

3. Limit your Debt
Debt has to be one of the greatest stressors in today’s society. Be careful to keep it under control.

There you have it…the ultimate guide to increasing happiness. Concrete tools to implement. I suggest you try as many as you can. Review these strategies regularly. Print this out. Pin it at work, and at home. Bookmark it on your computer or tablet. Go back to it. Re-read it. Keep a Happiness journal mentioned in Part 1. Start watching and being aware of your thoughts, and what is influencing them. Implement as many of these strategies, as consistently as you can, for one month. Then report back here and comment on your progress.

Please let me know what you think. Do you think these strategies make any difference? Do you think we have any control over our happiness?

Wishing you well,

Silas Payton
I have a blog where I post articles on writing, happiness and other areas of thought stimulation. Click here if you wish to visit.
If you’re interested in purchase my thrillers, they are available right here on Amazon.

Image from Philippe Put on Flickr

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The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read: The Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. Part 2 of 3

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This is part two of a three part series, divided to not overwhelm, and to allow anyone a chance at trying each and every strategy. In part one of the Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness, I discuss the benefits of keeping a Happy Journal. If you haven’t read it go do that now. I recommend a standardized list of things you look for and track each day. If you consistently look for things that make you happy, your brain will start to see them where you might not have before. Tracking what makes you happy also helps highlight just how much you enjoy them, and helps you make decisions. After doing this a while, I quickly realized that one of my favorite things is playing basketball with my kids. It may sound obvious but believe me, these things get lost in the busyness of life. Now, I’ll almost drop anything to play some ball.

The suggestions laid out in this Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness do take a conscious effort, but they get easier with practice.

In your Happy Journal, I suggest the following two headings:
Things that made me happy (3), or that I feel grateful about, and my successes:

People I helped, Acts of Kindness, &/or Gifts given:

If you maintain a digital Happy Journal, you can copy and paste it over and over. If not, just write it at the top of the page and refer to it. This has to be as simple as possible so we don’t avoid doing it daily.

We should all strive to be as consistently happy as possible. When we are happy we are more productive, have a better quality of life, are healthier, and we make life better for those around us. I know the strategies in this three part series will help. Each one might not fit with you but try them all. Find what works best for you. Review this list over and over as a reminder and pass it on. Here are my recommendations in part 2.

Make someone laugh
Laughing is one of the best ways to bump up your happiness and the happiness of someone you meet. If you can make someone laugh, you may be turning their day around, as well as yours.

Give something away
This can be in time, material items, or money. Studies have shown that when we give something away, we feel better, not only at the time but anytime we look back and remember doing it. This can be volunteering our time, or giving what we can to a charity or someone in need. Of course, there are many other reasons to give of yourself other than to make yourself feel good, but it is a bonus. Make a note in your journal, of what you gave away that day.

Get some sunshine
This may go against popular convention for the past decade or two, but we know exposure to sunlight, effects our levels of three very important chemicals in the body: Serotonin, Melatonin, and Vitamin D. There is a biological mechanism by which we feel better when we get some sun. Don’t take this as my support for tanning beds or sun bathing…that’s not what I’m saying. Some safe sun exposure has been shown to be healthy and make us happy. M. Nathaniel Mead wrote a good article in Environmental Health Perspectives, outlining the health benefits. You can read it here. As a word of caution, there are many variables and much disagreement on how much sun is safe, so I’ll leave that up to you to research and decide upon.

Nurture your relationships
We are happier when we have a significant other in our lives. Be sure to protect your relationships. Show some love. Some gratitude. Do something special for them. I love the saying, “The grass is always greener…where you water and take care of it.” This also goes for other relationships we have, whether it be our family or friends, keep in touch. A short email, or phone call can go along way.

Focus energy & spending on experiences – Conscious Spending
Studies have shown that when we do something, we tend to be happier than when we purchase material items. This can be a dinner out, a show or concert, or a trip. It doesn’t need to cost a lot. I doesn’t need to cost anything. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s something you enjoy and will look forward to. To get even more benefit from it, plan ahead. If we book it in the future, we enjoy the thought of it coming up, we enjoy doing it, and we enjoy looking back at it, with fond memories…all of which increase our sense of well-being and happiness. I’m not suggesting you go on a big trip instead of covering your basic needs, saving, or working toward something you really want. This is more about conscious spending.

Exercise and Eat well
In many cases, we feel better when we are active. Fifteen minutes of mindful exercise…walking, biking, running, yoga, gardening…can be very helpful in making us feel better. This evening I was becoming more and more agitated with the constant interruptions of being in a house with three kids, four cats and a dog. During one of my interruptions, I came back to find a cat had eaten the chicken off my dinner plate. While I tried to salvage the un-munched portion, my twelve year old son asked if I’d play some basketball. Thirty minutes of laughing and joking with each other totally changed the direction of my evening. My ego took a beating, as he cleaned my clock, but my mood was much better for it.

Equally important is the food we eat. Cooking and eating healthy meals together with family (even with the cat), whenever you can, is a great way to bond while getting the benefits of quality healthy food. Healthy eating is a very complicated subject that I’ll leave you to explore further.

Feel music
One of the fastest ways to instantly feel better is to feel some music. Put on something with a beat and really feel it. Don’t just listen to it, but feel it. Move your body to the beat. A hand, a foot, nod your head, shake, move…it doesn’t matter what or how you move but move something…feel it. This works. Go try it now.

Part three will be coming next week.

How have you found any of the suggestions so far? Leave your results or any recommendations in the comments. Do you think any of this really matters?

Wishing you well,

Silas Payton
You can find more articles on writing, happiness, and other areas of thought stimulation on the Silas Payton Blog.
If you’re interested in spreading the love by purchasing my thrillers, they are available on Amazon.

Image by Gatto Mimmo on Flickr. Not one of my cats, but I envision mine looking this happy after eating my chicken.

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The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read: The Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. Part 1 of 3

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I’ve been reading and following the research about happiness for over twenty years. Over this time, I have seen the effects we can have by making simple changes in what we allow to influence our thoughts. We all have ups and downs, which is natural, but it is generally agreed, that most of us want to be happy. I’ve put together a list of strategies that can change our outlook…to increase the positive influences in our lives while limiting things that bring us down. Many of these have been proven through research to help, and some, which are based on our current understanding of how the brain works, I’ve just found to be helpful on my own. All are designed to increase or highlight our happiness and sense of well-being.

Background
It looks like some of our ability to be happy is genetically coded. In fact, genetics is thought to account for 50% of how happy we normally feel. We can’t control this portion, but it does means we have 50% which we can play with, and influence. Our brains are massive consumers of energy, but at the same time, they try to be as efficient as possible. Without our awareness, our brains are looking for patterns…categories to slot new information into for easy recall. I’m sure most have experienced this. When you are reading a particular style of magazine, home and garden for example, you start to see all the things you’d like to improve around your house and yard. If we immerse ourselves in anything, we start to see more of it. Ever buy a new-to-you car and suddenly start to notice all the other people who drive the same car?

Because of the patterning of memory and thought processing, our brains have uncontrollable biases based on the kind of information it has recently been analyzing and storing. At the beginning of most abnormal psychology text books, there is a disclaimer which states, do not be alarmed if when reading this, you feel you have many of these disorders. As we read, watch, or listen to something it creates fresh patterns of thinking. Our brain then wants to use these fresh patterns to view and categorize new information. Commercials use this principle as well. Marketing companies plant images and emotions into our brain so when we are hungry, we envision their burgers, or when our car needs replacing, we want their product. We see things based on how the brain has recently being patterned. Fortunately, with this knowledge, we can actually re-train our brains to see, notice, and feel more reasons to be happy.

Knowing how the brain works gives us tremendous power to influence how we think, feel, and react to situations…how we perceive what goes on around us. A number of the suggestions I pose here work on this powerful principle. Try some. Try them all. Every one might not be a match for you, but I have no doubt that by implementing some of these strategies, you can increase your happiness, and the happiness of those around you.

The strategies:

Train your brain to find events that make you happy.
Get yourself a journal, or set up a document on a tablet. Dedicate a few minutes a day, to increase your happiness. Every night, write down three things that made you happy that day. Write three sentences about each one. This can be something you did, an accomplishment, something that happened to you by chance…it doesn’t matter. Don’t cut corners here…our brains need to focus and think about what it was that made us happy, and why. Doing this regularly will subconsciously train our brains to look closer for events and encounters in our day that make us happy.

Be grateful.
Sometimes we have crappy days…days when we’d be hard-pressed to think of anything that made us happy. At the end of each day, give some thought to what you can be grateful about. A friend, a relationship, something that happened in your past. It doesn’t matter what it is or was. If you can’t think of anything that made you happy on a given day, think of something you feel grateful about and make a note of it in your journal.

Remember and celebrate your successes.
Success is very personal thing. We all define it differently, but if you feel good about something you’ve achieved it is a success. Maybe you received a complement, achieved something you were working towards, got a good mark on a quiz. If you feel good about an accomplishment, write it down in your journal. It is important to celebrate and remember our successes. It doesn’t need to be a big celebration, but there should be a mental recognition or a personal pat on the back.

Help people with acts of kindness.
This is absolutely my favourite. Help as many people as you can, making sure you help at least one person each and every day. And, of those people, try and make one of them someone you don’t know. It can be anything you think will make a difference for someone. Hold a door open, wish someone a nice day, or lend a hand. You can even re-post a blog article, buy an author’s book…anything counts. Studies have shown that when we are kind to someone else, not only do they feel good, but we also feel good. As an added benefit, acts of kindness increase the likelihood that both parties will go on and do further acts of kindness for someone else. It creates a spreading positive feedback loop. Record any acts of kindness in your journal at the end of the day.

Smile
Like I mentioned above, our brains group certain reactions, feelings, and behaviours together. We generally smile when we are happy, or laughing. Our brains have these linked together in a pattern and we can use this to our advantage. Even if we don’t feel happy, if we smile, it tricks our brain into thinking we are happy. If our brain thinks we’re happy, we start to see things that make us happier. Also, when we smile, it makes people around us smile and feel happier.

Tune in next week for part 2 of the Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness. Until then, try these consistently and let me know how they work for you.

You can now link to Part 2 here.

Wishing you well,

Silas Payton
You can find more articles on writing, happiness, and other areas of thought stimulation on the Silas Payton Blog.
If you’re interested in spreading the love by purchasing my thrillers, they are available on Amazon.

Image by Kevin Stanchfield on Flickr

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One of my All Time Favourite Books on Happiness.

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I’ve been pre-occupied lately, posting and tweeting about a recent book promo for Going Under, and the launch of the Jack Daniels & Associates Kindle World, which includes my second book White Lady. Launching two books in just over a month has been quite an experience…an overwhelmingly pleasant and enjoyable experience. I’m trying desperately to get my third out within three months of the first…if it wasn’t for the editing.

In returning to happiness posting, I wanted to share with you, one of my all time favourite books on the topic. It’s called Stumbling on Happiness, by prominent Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert.

It is a look at the research of what makes us happy as well as what doesn’t make us happy. It looks at the flaws of what makes us worry and puts in perspective that most of what we worry about is based on our ideas of what our future will be…which is in turn, based on our very flawed memory of the past. It is a funny read, highlighting the research in a way that you can play along and ask yourself what you would pick or do in the situation. The results are surprising.

Publishers Weekly says: Not offering a self-help book, but instead mounting a scientific explanation of the limitations of the human imagination and how it steers us wrong in our search for happiness, Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, draws on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and behavioral economics to argue that, just as we err in remembering the past, so we err in imagining the future.

I’ve included an interview with Daniel Gilbert so you can get a feel for his humour and area of interest, but regardless of what you think of the interview, I encourage you to try the book. (With Amazon, you can return it if you don’t like it.) It will change the way you look at your worries and help put in perspective, what happiness is.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Silas Payton

Please Note: I am an Amazon Affiliate which I set up to get an extra 10% when people purchase my books through linking on the right of the blog (which I encourage you to do if you like thrillers). Unfortunately, it also involves any books purchased via linking from my blog. I do not want to profit AT ALL from books I have enjoyed and hope will increase happiness for someone else, along the way. Please use my link above to read about it, but cut and paste the title into Google to bypass this. Just get the book!

Daniel Gilbert, Harvard professor of psychology and best-selling author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” on Wednesday presented an impressive array of scientific research from economics, psychology, and neuroscience to assess his mother’s recipe for happiness.

“If your mom was like my mom, she gave you more advice than you probably wanted on how to be happy,” Gilbert said, before telling the capacity audience at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology that “mom was partially right” in suggesting three keys for happiness: marriage, money, and children.

With a photograph of his late mother on the screen behind him, Gilbert asked the audience members how many believed getting married led to happiness. He laughed when a woman in the fourth row pushed up the left arm of the man next to her. Smiling at the man with the forcibly raised arm, Gilbert nodded, “You’re right!” And so was mom, he said.

“Married people are happier than unmarried people. They are healthier, live longer, have more sex,” and do better on nearly every indicator of happiness, Gilbert noted during his lecture titled “Happiness: What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You.”

Gilbert pointed out that the quality of a marriage is, unsurprisingly, closely connected to one’s level of happiness. On average, marriage “makes you happier for eight to 15 years,” making it a worthwhile “investment,” but happiness levels may diminish over time, Gilbert said. Of course, “staying in a bad marriage” makes people unhappy, he said, but people in bad marriages “get much happier after divorce.”

Gilbert then turned to money, describing how people typically deny a connection between money and happiness. Gilbert explained that he’d once conducted informal research at the Boston Common, asking people if money could buy happiness. Nearly all of them responded in “Hallmark card clichés” about how the important things in life are free. Gilbert offered the audience a Cheshire-cat smile before delivering his findings: “Of course money buys happiness,” he said. “A little money can buy you a lot of happiness, though a lot of money buys you only a little more happiness.”

The interplay of money and happiness is subject to diminishing marginal returns, noted Gilbert, who showed a graph revealing a correlation between the two increases at lower income levels and lower returns at higher levels. What’s the sweet spot where each dollar buys the most happiness? Gilbert cited a per capita income between $50,000 to $75,000.

He then suggested that people with higher incomes aren’t spending their money on the right things. Time spent resting, for example, the dream of so many working people, simply doesn’t deliver happiness. “People are happiest when the mind is engaged,” Gilbert said, whether talking, creating, or having sex (another point for marriage). “People are [also] happier when they give money away rather than spending it on themselves.”

Gilbert then discussed children, mom’s last ingredient for happiness. While people might refer to them as “bundles of joy,” said Gilbert (who has a son and grandchildren), “they’re not a source of happiness.” He displayed a bar graph showing that childless adults are much happier than parents. “Once people have kids, there’s a downturn in happiness,” he said, which isn’t reversed until the kids move out. “The only symptom of empty nest syndrome,” Gilbert said, chuckling, “is nonstop smiling.”

So why do people speak so joyously about their children? Gilbert likened having kids to watching a Red Sox-Yankees game where no run is scored until Sox slugger David Ortiz hits a game-winning homer in the ninth. “One will always remember that magical, momentary ending,” but forget the uneventful innings before. “That’s just like spending a day with a 5-year old,” he said, when an “I wub you” from the child may validate all the difficult hours.

“Of course we love our kids,” said Gilbert. “I never said don’t have kids,” but the scientific data is tough to refute. Mom’s advice on kids may thus leave something to be desired.

Gilbert concluded his good-natured deconstruction of mom’s happiness formula with a final word: “Maybe your mother doesn’t know everything about happiness, but call her anyway.” While our mothers never considered backing up their theories of happiness with scientific data, Gilbert put his mom’s recipe under a powerful microscope, offering insights, surprises, and plenty of thought-provoking science.

This interview with Daniel Gilbert was originally posted on The Harvard Gazette

Tips for Happiness in Daily Life

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Some days are harder than others. Some days it feels like from the moment you wake up, things are difficult. You stub your toe on the way to the shower. You find out there’s no more soap. You drop your razor and it breaks. Every have one of those? Ya, who hasn’t.

The question is…should this dictate the rest of the day? Should 15 minutes control your emotions and the way you see things throughout the remainder of the challenges, encounters, and exchanges you have for the entire day? This could easily be the case. Once we get looking for and expecting everything to be going wrong, sure enough we’ll find it.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s damn hard to do sometimes, but there are ways we can change the direction of our day. We can be aware of our thoughts, be kind to people, breath deeply, relax, do something we enjoy…but it starts with being aware that we have some control over our emotions and outlook.

Here’s a great article with tips on how we can change the direction of our day…to take control and bring more happiness to our lives and the lives we touch.

Silas Payton

Tips for Happiness in Daily Life

You can make your life happier. It is a matter of choice.

It is your attitude that makes you feel happy or unhappy.

We meet various situations every day, and some of them may not contribute to happiness. However, we can choose to keep thinking about the unhappy events, and we can choose to refuse to think about them, and instead, think about and relish the happy moments.

All of us go through various situations and circumstances, but we do not have to let them influence our reactions and feelings.

If we let outer events influence our moods, we become their slaves. We lose our freedom. We let our happiness be determined by outer forces. On the other hand, we can free ourselves from outer influences. We can choose to be happy, and we can do a lot to add happiness to our lives.

What is happiness?

It is a feeling of inner peace and satisfaction. It is usually experienced, when there are no worries, fears or obsessing thoughts. This usually happens, when we do something we love to do, or when we get, win, gain, or achieve something that we value. It seems to be the outcome of positive events, but it actually comes from the inside, triggered by external events.

For most people, happiness seems fleeting and temporary, because they allow external circumstances to affect it. One of the best ways to keep it, is by gaining inner peace through daily meditation. As the mind becomes more peaceful, it becomes easier to choose the happiness habit.

Tips for Happiness in Daily Life:

1) Endeavor to change the way you look at things. Always look at the bright side. The mind might drag you to think about negativity and difficulties. Don’t let it. Look at the good and positive side of every situation.

2) Think about solutions, not about problems.

3) Listen to relaxing, uplifting music.

4) Watch funny comedies that make you laugh.

5) Each day, devote some time to reading a few pages of an inspiring book or article.

6) Watch your thoughts. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, start thinking of pleasant things.

7) Always look at what you have done and not at what you haven’t.

Sometimes, you begin the day with the desire to accomplish several objectives. At the end of the day, you might feel frustrated and unhappy, because you haven’t been able to do all of those things.

Look at what you have done, not at what you have not been able to do. Often, even if you have accomplished a lot during the day, you let yourself feel frustrated, because of some minor tasks you didn’t accomplish.

Sometimes, you spend all day successfully carrying out many plans, but instead of feeling happy and satisfied, you look at what was not accomplished and feel unhappy. It is unfair toward yourself.

8) Each day do something good for yourself. It can be something small, such buying a book, eating something you love, watching your favorite program on TV, going to a movie, or just having a stroll on the beach.

9) Each day do at least one act to make others happy.

This can be a kind word, helping your colleagues, stopping your car at the crossroad to let people cross, giving your seat in a bus to someone else, or giving a small present to someone you love. The possibilities are infinite.

When you make someone happy, you become happy, and then people try to make you happy.

10) Always expect happiness.

11) Do not envy people who are happy. On the contrary, be happy for their happiness.

12) Associate with happy people, and try to learn from them to be happy. Remember, happiness is contagious.

13) Do your best to stay detached, when things do not proceed as intended and desired. Detachment will help you stay calm and control your moods and reactions. Detachment is not indifference. It is the acceptance of the good and the bad and staying balanced. Detachment has much to do with inner peace, and inner peace is conductive to happiness.

14) Smile more often.

Written by By Remez Sasson. Originally posted on www.successconsciousness.com
Image by BK on Flickr

What Will You Go Through to do What You Love?

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We each have things we love to do. Some are easy, some strenuous…which is often part of the enjoyment. But what will you go through to be able to do what you love?

I love to write. I wish I had started earlier in life. When I’m actively writing a story, I escape into it. It’s on my mind constantly. I thoroughly enjoy it and have a hard time setting limits…but I can’t stop living either. I have a career and a small business, a wonderful wife, three teens (one is 12), a geriatric dog and four cats, all of which need and deserve my attention. As such, I’ve adapted my writing to fit into my lifestyle. I write anywhere, anytime.

I do most of my writing on an iPad mini, although I also use a laptop. Before everyone goes Apesh-t about ergonomics, I’m going to do a post at some point soon, addressing the merit of using a tablet for some of your writing.

With the flexibility to write anywhere, anytime, I’ve written in some bizarre places. I’ve written in hotel rooms, in many hotels in many cities while vacationing. I’ve written at the edge of an ocean and the edge of a Great Lake. I’ve written poolside in hotels, poolside in my back yard, on beaches, on docks “watching” my kids sail, in stores while my wife shopped for cloths, in the car, at the curling club while my kids played, in our gazebo, or sitting on the deck under the pergola. I’ve written in restaurants (first draft was auto corrected to restraints — no, I have not done that…yet). I’ve written in hockey arenas, on the sidelines of soccer fields and football fields. I’ve written at work (this is rare), in almost every room in the house, on every table in the house and on every seat in the house — yes, even those seats. I’ve written in bed and on the floor.

I’ve even written on the step, waiting for my very old, but wonderful dog to pee. But today, I must say, tops it all off. I may be taking this writing thing a bit too far. Today I stood writing, waiting for my dog to pee…outside in the snow…in minus twenty-five degree (Celsius) weather.

Where is the most bizarre place you’ve written? Or, What have you gone through to do what you love? I dare someone to top today’s foolishness. Leave your best location or circumstance in the comments.

Write on,

Silas Payton

Image taken today, of my wonderful 17.5 year old dog. Oh, and it was too cold for him to pee, so he came in the house and did it…no, I’m not kidding. 🙂 And for those interested, I was working on an upcoming book called 14 Gable Lane.

What Will You Go Through to do What You Love?

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We each have things we love to do. Some are easy, some strenuous…which is often part of the enjoyment. But what will you go through to be able to do what you love?

I love to write. I wish I had started earlier in life. When I’m actively writing a story, I escape into it. It’s on my mind constantly. I thoroughly enjoy it and have a hard time setting limits…but I can’t stop living either. I have a career and a small business, a wonderful wife, three teens (one is 12), a geriatric dog and four cats, all of which need and deserve my attention. As such, I’ve adapted my writing to fit into my lifestyle. I write anywhere, anytime.

I do most of my writing on an iPad mini, although I also use a laptop. Before everyone goes Apesh-t about ergonomics, I’m going to do a post at some point soon, addressing the merit of using a tablet for some of your writing.

With the flexibility to write anywhere, anytime, I’ve written in some bizarre places. I’ve written in hotel rooms, in many hotels in many cities while vacationing. I’ve written at the edge of an ocean and the edge of a Great Lake. I’ve written poolside in hotels, poolside in my back yard, on beaches, on docks “watching” my kids sail, in stores while my wife shopped for cloths, in the car, at the curling club while my kids played, in our gazebo, or sitting on the deck under the pergola. I’ve written in restaurants (first draft was auto corrected to restraints — no, I have not done that…yet). I’ve written in hockey arenas, on the sidelines of soccer fields and football fields. I’ve written at work (this is rare), in almost every room in the house, on every table in the house and on every seat in the house — yes, even those seats. I’ve written in bed and on the floor.

I’ve even written on the step, waiting for my very old, but wonderful dog to pee. But today, I must say, tops it all off. I may be taking this writing thing a bit too far. Today I stood writing, waiting for my dog to pee…outside in the snow…in minus twenty-five degree (Celsius) weather.

Where is the most bizarre place you’ve written? I dare someone to top today’s foolishness. Leave your best location or circumstance in the comments.

Write on,

Silas Payton

Image taken today, of my wonderful 17.5 year old dog. Oh, and it was too cold for him to pee, so he came in the house and did it…no, I’m not kidding. 🙂

25 Wonderful Happy Life Quotes, thoughts & Sayings

I recently had an experience that I thought I’d share. I’m big on acts of kindness and spreading happiness. I just finished a free book promo for my debut novel Going Under: A Bill Roberts Thriller. The numbers were pretty good but decreasing on the third day, so I asked for help. I spend my days helping others. I’m a quiet introvert who doesn’t ask for help. I’m new at this writing thing and don’t have a lot people I’ve worked with yet but I know a few names from following blogs. So, I sent out a couple emails. The response was extremely helpful and positive…wishing me well, retweets and Facebook posts.

It was so positive, I thought I’d ask my Twitter followers. The response was overwhelming. I’ve been following this Ebook revolution since 2010 and one of the things that I’ve noticed time and time again, is the support and sense of community among the writers, bloggers and self-publishers. Any time I’ve asked questions from authors or bloggers, the response has been great. But this? This was amazing. I send everyone who helped a big thanks.

I found some quotes on happiness I’d like to share. As I tend to on my blog, I’m going to add my 2 cents worth.

If you choose to look for opportunities, you’ll find them. If you choose to look for things that are good in people, you’ll find them. And if you choose to look for reasons to be happy, you also find them.
Silas Payton

Happiness is not in our circumstance but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are. John B. SheerinTo get up each morning with the resolve to be happy…is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Albert Camus

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste, that they hurry past it.
Kierkegaard

Resolve to keep happy and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
Helen Keller

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
Thich Nhat Hanh

For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.
Andy Rooney

One ought to seek out virtue for its own sake, without being influenced by fear or hope, or by any external influence. Moreover, that in that does happiness consist.
Diogenes Laertius, Zeno

No matter how much madder it may make you, get out of bed forcing a smile. You may not smile because you are cheerful; but if you will force yourself to smile, you’ll end up laughing. You will be cheerful because you smile. Repeated experiments prove that when man assumes the facial expressions of a given mental mood — any given mood — then that mental mood itself will follow.
Kenneth Goode

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
Marcus Aurelius

The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.
Charles Langbridge Morgan

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.
Albert Einstein

When we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.
C.S. Lewis

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
Count Leo Tolstoy

Tranquil pleasures last the longest; we are not fitted to bear the burden of great joys.
Christian Nestell Bovee

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis.
Margaret Bonnano

If we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.
Edith Wharton

Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
Henri Nouwen

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.
Henry Van Dyke

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.
Agnes Repplier

Happiness is not in our circumstance but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are.
John B. Sheerin

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
Mark Twain

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Buddha

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.
Martha Washington

Quotes found on http://www.verybestquotes.com/happy-life-quotes/

Why Happiness Matters

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Some people are more miserable than others. Although, part of this may be genetic, we know that to some extent, we can influence how happy we feel. There are some who would say, why bother? Besides the obvious…that it feels good to be happy, we are more kind to others when we are happy. I could argue that as a society, we do better when happiness increases.

Here is an article outlining some other benefits of happiness. Leave a comment of your thoughts.

Silas Payton

Does happiness matter? People react to this question in surprisingly different ways. Some suggest that there are far more significant things to worry about; others see happiness as vitally important and something that every human being ultimately wants in life. To explore this conundrum, we need to start by looking at what happiness actually means.

Happiness relates to how we feel, but it is more than just a passing mood. We are emotional beings and experience a wide range of feelings on a daily basis. Negative emotions – such as fear and anger – help us to get away from danger or defend ourselves. And positive emotions – such as enjoyment and hope – help us to connect with others and build our capacity to cope when things go wrong.

Trying to live a happy life is not about denying negative emotions or pretending to feel joyful all the time. We all encounter adversity and it’s completely natural for us to feel anger, sadness, frustration and other negative emotions as a result. To suggest otherwise would be to deny part of the human condition.

Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times – but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times, in order to experience the best possible life overall. Or, in the words of the biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard: “Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.”

One popular misconception about happiness is that happy people are somehow more likely to be lazy or ineffective. In fact research shows the opposite is true: happiness doesn’t just feel good, it actually leads to a wide range of benefits for our performance, health, relationships and more.

For example, economists at Warwick University showed different groups of people either a positive film clip or a neutral film clip and then asked them to carry out standard workplace tasks under paid conditions. The people who were primed to feel happy were 11% more productive than their peers, even after controlling for age, IQ and other factors. Similarly, researchers at Wharton Business School found that companies with happy employees outperform the stock market year on year and a team at UCL has discovered that people who are happy as young adults go on to earn more than their peers later in life.

Schools that focus on social and emotional wellbeing have better academic results. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Schools that focus on social and emotional wellbeing have better academic results.

In healthcare, doctors who are happy have been found to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, even when this happiness was induced simply by giving them the small gift of a sugary sweet. In education, schools that focus on children’s social and emotional wellbeing experience significant gains in academic attainment as well as improvements in pupil behaviour. Happiness has also been linked to better decision-making and improved creativity.

So, rather than success being the key to happiness, research shows that happiness could in fact be the key to success.

But it doesn’t just help us function better: happiness also brings substantial benefits for society as a whole. For example, a review of more than 160 studies found “clear and compelling evidence” that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers. They are around half as likely to catch the cold virus and have a 50% lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.

Happier people are also less likely to engage in risky behaviour – for example, they are more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to be involved in road accidents. Happier people are even more financially responsible, tending to save more and have more control over their expenditures.

But perhaps most importantly of all, people who are happier are more likely to make a positive contribution to society. In particular, they are more likely to vote, do voluntary work and participate in public activities. They also have a greater respect for law and order and offer more help to others.

There is even evidence that happiness is contagious, so that happier people help others around them to become happier too. An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over 20 years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across “three degrees of separation”. In other words, how happy we are has a measurable impact on the mood of our friend’s friend’s friend.

When it comes to the happiness of society as a whole, however, the sad truth is that in recent decades we have become substantially richer but no happier. The positive benefits of higher incomes have been undermined by rising inequality and falling levels of trust and social cohesion. We’ve also reached the point where mental ill health is one of our greatest social challenges – causing more of the suffering in our society than either unemployment or poverty.

This is why increasing numbers of policymakers and leaders are now calling for measures of progress to be based on human wellbeing and happiness, not just economic factors such as growth in GDP. Here in the UK, the government has introduced a programme to measure national wellbeing, and influential figures – including former cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell – are calling for wellbeing to become the overall measure of prosperity and the main guide to public policy.

This shift towards prioritising happiness is important because this also reflects what the majority of people want. In a YouGov poll commissioned by Action for Happiness, a majority (87%) of UK adults said they would prefer a society with the “greatest overall happiness and wellbeing”, rather than the “greatest overall wealth” (8%). The findings were consistent across all regions, age groups and social classes.

So happiness does matter – the scientific evidence is compelling. The pursuit of happiness is not some fluffy nice-to-have or middle-class luxury; it’s about helping people to live better lives and creating a society that is more productive, healthy and cohesive. As Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Of course, being happy is not some magical cure-all. Happy people still get sick and lose loved ones – and not all happy people are efficient, creative or generous. But, other things being equal, happiness brings substantial advantages.

Perhaps the most powerful insight of all comes, not from the research, but from the responses I’ve heard from many hundreds of parents when asking them what they want above all for their children. Nearly all say something like: “I really just want them to be happy.”

Happiness is the thing we want most for the people we love the most. That’s why it matters so much.

Written by Mark Williamson, originally posted on theguardian.com.
Image by Patrick on Flickr

Ignorance is Bliss — Sort of: How Not Watching the News Makes us Happier

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Over five years ago, I stopped watching the news. It was one of the best moves I’ve made to improve my happiness. Sound crazy? In fact I stopped watching mainstream television altogether. I’m sure half of you are ready to stop reading this now, but don’t.

The mainstream news as we know it, is designed to promote fear and anxiety. That’s how they entice viewers to tune in and keep coming back for more. The media does this under the guise of keeping us informed of what we need to know. I would argue that most of it we don’t need to know. In most cases, it doesn’t directly effect us and there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.

I’m definately not saying we shouldn’t have the news, or reporters risking their lives to share what could otherwise remain hidden. I’m not saying we should become ignorant and uninvolved. I am saying we have the ability to tune in to small doses…to filter what, and how much we are thinking about. I am fortunate enough that in my work setting, I hear about anything important going on in my community or the world. If I’m interested, I can find all I need to about it very quickly. I just choose to not immerse myself in something geared to manipulate me and produce fear, frustration and anxiety.

About mainstream television…we still watch shows as a couple or a family by way of the Internet. But, we watch what we want, when we want, with no commercials. How often do you end up watching something, because it’s the only thing on. Well stop. Add up all those hours. Think of what you could do with that time, especially if it was something positive, enjoyable, and not stress producing. If I look back, I’ve never been more productive, creative, excited, and happy. Give it some thought. Try it for a while.

Here’s an excellent article by someone who shares my conclusions on the idea of getting ride of mainstream news and television. One of the ways to stay up is to cut out what brings you down. Leave a comment of your thoughts.

Silas Payton

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson

Around 2 years ago I stopped reading and watching mainstream news. I don’t read a single newspaper, offline or online, and I don’t watch any TV at all. I recently mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook and it created a lot of discussion, so I wanted to expand on my thoughts and experiences.

When I first started ignoring news, I felt that I was simply making an excuse, that if I had more time I should read the news. Today, however, it is a very deliberate choice and I feel consistently happier every single day due to ignoring the mainstream news. It just so happens that the last 2 years have also been the most enjoyable and productive of my entire life, and have contained some of my greatest achievements. Here are a few reasons I think we should stop consuming mainstream news:

News is negative

“The news media are, for the most part, the bringers of bad news and it’s not entirely the media’s fault, bad news gets higher ratings and sells more papers than good news.” – Peter McWilliams

The most interesting fact I learned in the last few years about mainstream media is that is that almost all news reported is negative. Studies have shown that the ratio of bad news to good news is around 17:1. That means that 95% is negative. This is a massive number, and I’m sure if you stop to think for a moment about the most recent news you watched, it has also been overwhelmingly negative. In my experience, 95% is absolutely the correct ratio in the news. However, 95% is a very bad reflection of the real ratio of good to bad in the world. Many great things happen, they just don’t sell newspapers.

Mainstream news report about wars, natural disasters, murders and other kinds of suffering. It seems the only natural conclusion of watching or reading mainstream news is that the world is a terrible place, and that it is getting worse every day. However, the reality of course is the complete opposite: we live in an amazing time and the human race is improving at a faster pace than ever before.

The effect of negative news

“When you turn on the television, for instance, you run the risk ingesting harmful things, such as violence, despair, or fear.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Another very interesting thing I’ve learned in the last few years is the incredible impact that being around the right people can have on your trajectory to achieving what you want. This comes down essentially to your environment, and whilst it can mean some hard decisions to change our environment, we actually have a lot of control over it.

These two aspects – that we are subconsciously affected by our environment, no matter how much willpower we believe ourselves to have, and that we have much more control over our environment than we realise have been a key factor of some of the success I’ve had in the last few years.

In a TED talk titled “Information is food”, JP Rangaswami compared eating McDonald’s for 31 days, as in Supersize Me, to watching Fox News for 31 days. In essence, mainstream news is the fast food of information. There are much healthier types of information we can and should consume.

The opportunity cost of watching news

The other key thing that I think it can be easy to overlook, is what you could be doing in the time you are spending watching the news.

I remember as a kid, my parents always used to watch the 6 o’clock news. It became so ingrained, it was what would always happen at exactly 6pm, and if we didn’t watch it, we would surely miss out on something vital that could affect our lives.

As a teenager, over time I managed to gradually escape that more and more often. At first, I simply turned to something I enjoyed. I played games online in the evenings instead of sitting with my family and watching the news. The most interesting thing, however, is that my passion for gaming turned into a powerful hobby of learning to code, and I accredit this for a lot of my startup success.

Not only is watching news going to put an out of proportion amount of negative thoughts in your mind, which will affect what you can achieve, it is also valuable time where there are many amazing and meaningful things you could be doing:

you could go to the gym and feel better every day
you could help someone and at the same time feel happier
you could build an MVP which could turn into a startup
you could write an article and start building a useful resource for others
Try a month off mainstream news

Abstaining from mainstream news has been one of the single best decisions I’ve made in the last two years for both my productivity and my happiness. If you’re still in a habit of watching or reading news, I strongly recommend you take Thomas Jefferson’s advice and try a month off news:

“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”

Do you read or watch mainstream news? Have you thought about stopping consuming it? Have you also given it up and felt better? I’d love to hear from you.

Written by Joel Gascoigne at Joel.is
Image by flash.pro on Flickr