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Want To Be Happier? Hire A Housekeeper, Researchers Suggest

Many who have the means to buy themselves more free time don’t do so

For people who wish there were more hours in the day, spending a bit of money to get rid of onerous tasks would make them much happier, but researchers say very few actually make the investment.

A study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found buying time makes people happier than buying material things.

UBC psychology professor and study author Elizabeth Dunn said although the idea of being happier by having someone clean your home or do other unwanted chores seems obvious, the study found even small investments like shopping at a more expensive, but closer-to-home, grocery store makes a difference.

Protects from time stress

“Theoretically what we think is that buying time protects people from the negative effects of time stress in daily life,” she said. “When you’re rushing around, feeling pressed for time, that seems to take a bit of a toll on people’s day-to-day happiness.”

Researchers gave 60 people taking part in the study in Vancouver $40 to spend on two weekends. The first time they were told to use the money on any material item they wanted.

Dunn said people reported buying a nice bottle of wine, clothes and board games. Researchers then surveyed the group to determine their level of happiness following the purchase of the item.

On the second weekend, participants were tasked to use the money to save them time — such as taking a taxi instead of public transit, have someone mow their lawn, and in one case having a “neighbour boy” run errands.

Better than shopping

Dunn said they compared the group’s level of happiness following both instances of spending, and found people were much happier when they bought themselves more time.

Surprisingly, Dunn said only two per cent of the group reported that they would spend money on things that would give them more time.

“It’s not what comes to mind to people as a way to increase their happiness and the rates at which people are engaging in this type of expenditure are surprisingly low,” Dunn said.

That attitude wasn’t limited to the Vancouver participants.

The study also surveyed 850 millionaires in the Netherlands and found almost half of them don’t spend money to outsource their most disliked tasks.

Many could but don’t outsource

Buying more time requires the means to do so, Dunn said. But a survey of 6,000 people in Canada, the U.S. and Europe showed those who have a bit of discretionary income would benefit from spending it on getting rid of the chores they dread.

The minority of people who do buy time-saving tools typically spend $80 to $100 a month, Dunn said, adding the study shows even $40 can make a difference.

‘Even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,’
– Elizabeth Dunn, UBC psychology professor

“People who don’t feel like they’re rolling in dough may feel like that’s a frivolous way to spend money, but what our research is showing is that even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,” she said.

Guilt factor

The reason behind people’s aversion to treating themselves to time savers is unclear. Dunn said her team’s best guess is that people feel guilty spending money on things they could do themselves.

“People may feel like I can do this so I should do this, and so I hope our research helps to break through that perhaps misguided cultural assumption,” she said.

Dunn said her team intends to do a follow-up study to better understand why people don’t spend money to buy time, and see how age, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics play into the reasoning.

source: www.cbc.ca     The Canadian Press    Jul 25, 2017


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This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life

Here’s some wisdom gleaned from one of the longest longitudinal studies ever conducted.

Prioritizing what’s important is challenging in today’s world. The split focus required to maintain a career and a home, not to mention a Facebook feed, can feel overwhelming.

Enter the science of what to prioritize, when.

For over 75 years, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study has tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two populations: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study).

Due to the length of the research period, this has required multiple generations of researchers. Since before WWII, they’ve diligently analyzed blood samples, conducted brain scans (once they became available), and pored over self-reported surveys, as well as actual interactions with these men, to compile the findings.

The conclusion? According to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one thing surpasses all the rest in terms of importance:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Not how much is in your 401(k). Not how many conferences you spoke at–or keynoted. Not how many blog posts you wrote or how many followers you had or how many tech companies you worked for or how much power you wielded there or how much you vested at each.

No, the biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.

Specifically, the study demonstrates that having someone to rely on helps your nervous system relax, helps your brain stay healthier for longer, and reduces both emotional as well as physical pain.

The data is also very clear that those who feel lonely are more likely to see their physical health decline earlier and die younger.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship,” says Waldinger. “It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

What that means is this: It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge group of friends and go out every weekend or if you’re in a “perfect” romantic relationship (as if those exist). It’s the quality of the relationships–how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another.

According to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, there are two foundational elements to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

Thus, if you’ve found love (in the form of a relationship, let’s say) but you undergo a trauma like losing a job, losing a parent, or losing a child, and you don’t deal with that trauma, you could end up “coping” in a way that pushes love away.

This is a very good reminder to prioritize not only connection but your own capacity to process emotions and stress. If you’re struggling, get a good therapist. Join a support group. Invest in a workshop. Get a grief counselor. Take personal growth seriously so you are available for connection.

Because the data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.

The next time you’re scrolling through Facebook instead of being present at the table with your significant other, or you’re considering staying late at the office instead of getting together with your close friend, or you catch yourself working on a Saturday instead of going to the farmer’s market with your sister, consider making a different choice.

“Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” acknowledges Waldinger. But he’s adamant in his research-backed assessment:
“The good life is built with good relationships.”

By Melanie Curtin     Writer, activist        @melaniebcurtin
source: www.inc.com


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Important Truths About Happiness

If you ask ten different people how to achieve happiness, it’s very likely you will receive ten different answers. Everyone has different views and thoughts about what makes them happy, and in some ways, it’s definitely a uniquely personal journey. However, there are some universal keys and skills for living a truly happy life that can make all the difference.

Personally, I believe happiness should be a subject they teach in school, starting at an early age.

It is, after all, one of our most important life skills, if not the most important. There are proven methods and techniques for being fundamentally happy which can be learned and practiced just like playing the piano. But, unfortunately, unlike piano lessons, happiness lessons aren’t something we commonly engage in.

Growing up, we’re misled to believe that happiness comes to us through success, material things, relationships, achievements, and other external sources. While these things can be wonderful and can contribute to a happy life, they’re only bricks and are not part of the foundation of happiness.

Building a foundation for living a fundamentally happy life across the board takes deliberate effort, knowledge, practice, and the development of habits that support happiness from within, even through dark times.

Like so many, I spent years and years of my life as an achievement junkie, chasing happiness, finding it in small, temporary doses through external sources. While these things would bring temporary highs, I would always find myself returning to a basic setting of lack and emotional mediocrity.

It wasn’t until my early thirties that I finally realized my strategy wasn’t working.

I finally changed course, turned within, and through dedicated practice and working with some wildly inspiring mentors, I discovered how to change my core emotional setting to one of overall happiness and peace. Since then, my life has drastically changed. I no longer go through long periods of darkness, there are more good days because I have learned to create them that way, and I have a much easier time bouncing back from setbacks and hard times.

While there are many elements to building a foundation for lasting happiness, including the practices of mindfulness, gratitude, self-acceptance, and love, there are three important truths about happiness that have stood out to me as things that often go unrecognized, but once understood, can change the way we think about and approach happiness.

The first is that being sad now and then is actually part of a happy, balanced life.

It’s a complete myth that truly happy people never feel depressed, defeated, or distraught. On top of this, we often tend to beat ourselves up for having these feelings instead of surrendering and allowing them to flow through. It’s about learning to recognize that there are valuable lessons to be learned from any life situation, and knowing that underneath everything you are guided and loved. It’s also about going within and feeling grateful for those opportunities, and learning how to deliberately find joy, even in the smallest doses, during the tough situations.

People often ask me how I am so damn happy all the time.

The answer is I’m not, but I have learned to find joy, peace, and lessons within the sad times, which helps me bounce back that much faster. And, I always know my happiness is the foundation of my life, even on the not-so-great days.

The second truth is that being happy is a way of life that takes deliberate hard work, concentration, and practice. Sometimes you even have to struggle and fight for it by defending personal boundaries and making hard decisions.

The good news is that the more you work at it, the better you get and it will begin to come naturally.

There are happiness muscles, and the more you work them and keep working them, the stronger they get and the more they will support you. This is a concept I wish I’d come to know much earlier in life.

You can learn to be a happier person just like you can learn to play a game of chess.

In chess, you learn and develop skills and strategies for setting yourself up for success, deciding exactly what to do when pieces are lost, and how to bounce back when the going gets tough. Being happy works very much the same.


Finally, being happy is much more physical than you would think.

It’s true that it comes from within, but everything physical, from what you eat to physical activity to simple physical acts like cracking a smile affect energy levels and brain chemistry, directly impacting our level of happiness. Aristotle said, “Happiness is a state of activity.” He was absolutely right.

Happiness is not just something we feel, it’s something we do.

Next time you feel down or anxiety ridden, think activity. Start working on a project you’ve been putting off, get some exercise, meditate, put on some music and do a happy dance, down some ultra healthy food, even just move around a bit and do some stretching. The results are immediate. Do these things daily and your level of overall happiness will increase drastically.

Take on the challenge of building yourself a solid foundation of happiness practices and skills that will be there to support you in living your happiest life. Ultimately, being happy is a conscious choice we must make on a daily (and sometimes even moment by moment) basis.

You can absolutely change your internal setting to one that idles regularly on happiness and joy, but it does take effort.

Be willing. Make it a project. Start with small changes. Read books on how to be happy to see what resonates with you. Create practices in your life that make you feel happy, keep them up, and don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect at it. We’re all works in progress, which is part of what makes life a beautiful adventure.

by Kristi Ling           02/2016


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Depressed people are likely to get colds more often while happy and energetic individuals get sick less often.

  • Listening to music for at least 5-10 minutes a day strengthens the mind, making it easier to deal with emotional stress.

 

 

  • Smiling, even in a bad mood, can immediately improve your mood because these muscles are enough to trigger happy chemicals in the brain.

  • When people talk to themselves in the third person, they are able to better control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior, a study found.

 

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Why Happiness is Healthy

Follow CNN’s Project Happy to explore what happiness means today, dive deep into the different ways we pursue it and find some tools to help make your life better. Come join us and #gethappy!

(CNN)Happiness – you know it when you see it, but it’s hard to define.

You might call it a sense of well-being, of optimism or of meaningfulness in life, although those could also be treated as separate entities. But whatever happiness is, we know that we want it, and that is just somehow good.

We also know that we don’t always have control over our happiness. Research suggests that genetics may play a big role in our normal level of subjective well-being, so some of us may start out at a disadvantage. On top of that, between unexpected tragedies and daily habitual stress, environmental factors can bring down mood and dry up our thirst for living.

Being able to manage the emotional ups and downs is important for both body and mind, said Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard School of Public Health.

“For physical health, it’s not so much happiness per se, but this ability to regulate and have a sense of purpose and meaning,” Kubzansky said.

Why be happy?

Many scientific studies, including some by Kubzansky, have found a connection between psychological and physical well-being.

A 2012 review of more than 200 studies found a connection between positive psychological attributes, such as happiness, optimism and life satisfaction, and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Kubzansky and other Harvard School of Public Health researchers published these findings in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

It’s not as simple as “you must be happy to prevent heart attacks,” of course. If you have a good sense of well-being, it’s easier to maintain good habits: Exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, researchers said. People who have an optimistic mindset may be more likely to engage in healthy behaviors because they perceive them as helpful in achieving their goals, Kubzansky said.
Lower blood pressure, normal body weight and healthier blood fat profiles were also associated with a better sense of well-being in this study.

For now these studies can only show associations; they do not provide hard evidence of cause and effect. But some researchers speculate that positive mental states do have a direct effect on the body, perhaps by reducing damaging physical processes. For instance, another of Kubzansky’s studies found that optimism is associated with lower levels of inflammation.

If what you mean by happiness is specifically “enjoyment of life,” there’s newer evidence to support that, too. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that people ages 60 and older who said they enjoyed life less were more likely to develop disability over an eight-year period. Mobility was also related to enjoyment of life. This study does not prove that physical problems are caused by less enjoyment of life, but suggests a relationship.

Where happiness comes from: genes + environment

There is substantial evidence that genetics play a big role in happiness, according to Nancy Segal, psychologist at California State University, Fullerton, and author of “Born Together — Reared Apart.”
Research has shown that identical twins tend to have a similar level of happiness, more so than fraternal twins. And in identical twins, one twin’s happiness is a better predictor of the other twin’s current or future happiness than educational achievement or income, Segal said.

“If you have happy parents and happy children, I think that people usually assume it’s because the children are modeling the parents,” she said. “But that’s not really so. You need to make the point that parents pass on both genes and environments.”

What’s more, there seems to be a certain level of happiness that individuals have generally, to which they usually gravitate, Segal said. That level depends on the person, and the situations he or she is in.
Even if genetics has a big influence, though, that doesn’t mean anyone is biologically stuck being unhappy, she said. It might take more work if your baseline mood is low, but certain therapies have proven useful for elevating psychological well-being.

The environment is still quite important for psychological well-being, too, Kubzansky said.
“To say to someone, ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ is kind of not looking at the whole picture of, what are the environmental constraints on things they can do?” Kubzansky said.

 

Money and time

You might be thinking: “Maybe I would be happier if I had more money.” There’s that old cliché “money doesn’t buy happiness” – but is it true? A 2010 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that emotional well-being rises with income up to a point, which seems to be a household income of $75,000. Day-to-day happiness did not increase with higher incomes.

But when participants were asked about overall satisfaction with their lives, that did continue to rise in conjunction with income, even after $75,000, Princeton University researchers Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found. Their results show a sharp distinction between how people see themselves in terms of happiness “today” vs. life satisfaction.

“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” Kahneman and Deaton wrote. “Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”

Would you be happier if you bought the car you always wanted? Several studies suggest experiences make us happier than possessions. That’s partly because once you have purchased something, such as a new car, you get used to seeing it every day and the initial joy fades, experts say. But you can continue to derive happiness from memories of experiences over time.

Experiences form “powerful and important memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world,” Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell University, told CNN in 2009.

But if you’re in the market for a birthday present for your sweetheart, a material object can still be meaningful, becoming a keepsake with sentimental value that increases over time, Gilovich said.

Or maybe you’ll be happier once you’ve lived longer. Research has also found that some sense of happiness may come with age.

Older adults may be able to better regulate their emotions than younger people, expose themselves to less stress and experience less negative emotion, Susan Turk Charles, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN in 2009. More science needs to be done on whether the diminished negative response is also associated with a feeling of happiness.

Happiness: Living in the moment

But what about right now – what can we do to make ourselves feel more positive?

If you’re seeking to increase your own sense of happiness, try mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness means being present and in the moment, and observing in a nonjudgmental way, Susan Albers, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told CNN in 2010.

Can mindfulness help manage pain and mental illness?

Mindfulness comes from Buddhism and is key to meditation in that tradition. Therapies for a wide variety of conditions, including eating disorders, depression and PTSD, incorporate mindfulness. Focusing on the here and now is a counterbalance to findings that mind-wandering is associated with unhappiness.

Activities such as keeping a gratitude diary and helping other people are also associated with feelings of well-being, Kubzansky said.

A variety of smartphone apps are also available that claim to help you monitor and enhance your moods. But don’t feel you have to face emotional challenges alone; a professional therapist can help you get to where you want to be.

If a sense of well-being makes a healthier person, then policy-makers should also promote large-scale initiatives to encourage that, Kubzansky said. Creating parks to encourage exercise and insituting flexible work-family initiatives are just some of the ways that communities can become healthier as a whole.

So remember: A glass half full might be healthier than a glass half empty.

Want to find out more ways to get happy? Visit our Project Happy page at cnn.com/happy.
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN      Fri April 3, 2015
 
source: www.cnn.com


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How To Get Happier Now With Almost No Effort

You can lift your spirits without a gym membership, wearing Lycra or even leaving the house.

For sedentary people, getting out of the chair is enough to improve happiness, new research finds.

It turns out that very light activity is surprisingly effective in raising people’s level of well-being.

Mr Gregory Panza, the study’s first author, said:

“…simply going from doing no physical activity to performing some physical activity can improve their subjective well-being.
What is even more promising for the physically inactive person is that they do not need to exercise vigorously to see these improvements.
Instead, our results indicate you will get the best ‘bang for your buck’ with light or moderate intensity physical activity.”

Light physical activity is equivalent to a leisurely walk.

The kind of walk that doesn’t make you sweat, breathe faster or even change your heart rate.

Moderate activity is walking fast enough to nudge up your vital signs for around 15 minutes.

It’s amazing how little
you have to do
to make yourself happier right now.

Vigorous exercise is equivalent to going for a jog.

The study looked at 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.

The biggest gains in happiness were seen among those who were the most sedentary and then did some light or moderate physical activity.

People who sat around a lot had the most to gain.

Mr Panza said:

“The ‘more is better’ mindset may not be true when it comes to physical activity intensity and subjective well-being.
In fact, an ‘anything is better’ attitude may be more appropriate if your goal is a higher level of subjective well-being.”
People doing vigorous activity did not see increases in their happiness.
This is the reverse of a recent study that found vigorous activity can actually decrease mental well-being.
Dr Beth Taylor, a study author, said:
“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being.

We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology (Panza et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Why the Grass is Never Greener and How to Be Happy Today

Lifestyle. Opportunities. Wealth. Just think how far we’ve come in the past 100 years—especially when you look at what we have today compared with our great grandmothers’ generation.

My great grandmother married very young, lived in the same place her whole life, and had 11 children. She never had a “career” and never got a chance to go on a vacation. Her life was hard, poor, and lacking in any real opportunity.

I wonder if she ever dreamed about moving to another city, or transforming her life, or about seeing the world with just a backpack. I bet she did, but back then there weren’t as many opportunities as we have today.

Thanks to technology, the Internet, and an improved society, our lifestyles are completely transformed. We have choices. We can live pretty much anywhere we want. We can travel and see the world.

We can secure jobs on the other side of the planet. We can start our own businesses and serve clients thousands of miles away. It’s definitely an exciting time.

But when there is a wealth of opportunities, choices, and places where we could choose to live, you’d think we’d all be happy, right? Wrong.

You see, the problem with having choices is that we become restless. We can’t settle on what we already have or be satisfied with what we’ve got because we’ll always be wondering about the next big thing.

It’s called “the grass is always greener” syndrome. We think someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness.

We lie awake at night torturing ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important.

There’s also this sense of time pressure, particularly with my generation who had the saying “The World is your Oyster” drilled into us from a young age.

This means there can be a sense of urgency, because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.

Photo by Hello Turkey Toe
“If you worry about what might be,
and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.”
~Unknown

We also think we’re special and that our lives are destined to be adventurous, thrilling, and hugely successful. And when they’re not turning out that way? We become depressed. We want more. We get “grass is greener” syndrome.

That’s when we become unhappy and spend all of our time and energy on focusing on what we don’t have rather than counting our blessings.

Some of us might start to move around a lot—often to find the “perfect” city or town, somewhere we can call “home,” somewhere we’ll be happy. Others might jump from one job or relationship to the next, never fully committing to anything.

But once we’ve made that leap to the other side—once we’ve moved to where we thought the grass would be greener and where we’d be happy—we discover that it is no different. We start to wonder about the grass being greener elsewhere.

We are never truly happy when we have “grass is greener” syndrome. It’s a fact.

Focusing on things we don’t have is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to a miserable existence and causes us to forget what’s most important—and that’s what’s happening right now.

As John Lennon once said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And that’s certainly true.

We all seem to be victims of ignoring what’s actually happening right at this very moment, which is only natural when we have so many choices and opportunities available to us.

We can all forget the whole point of happiness, and that’s peace of mind, acceptance, and mindfulness. Essentially, it’s being happy no matter where you are in the world, or what you’re doing, or whom you’re with.

Being mindful quiets the mind and brings us a sense of peace that no other quest for a “perfect life” could ever bring.

Mindfulness helps you to appreciate life as it happens. It stops us from agonizing over what might’ve been or what could be. It just brings us back to the present.

Don’t get me wrong—opportunity is a marvelous thing and I only wish my great grandmother had the choices I enjoy today. But I’m slowly coming to realize that my great grandmother might’ve been just fine with her lifestyle.

She was quite possibly happier than me. Her life was simple and perhaps there’s a clue in that. Maybe the simple life is where we can all find peace.

Yes—embrace everything that comes along. Yes—go out and see the world and enjoy everything this life has to offer.

But whenever you feel yourself losing focus and wondering about where you’ll be happy next, bring yourself back to the present, look at what you already have, look around you and enjoy the moments that are happening right now.

Find peace in reading a good book, doing some gardening, going for a walk in the countryside. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds and breathe deeply. Start to notice what is happening right now, and I guarantee you’ll find peace.

Because happiness isn’t about where you live or the things you do. It isn’t about being on an impossible mission to do everything, see everywhere, and accomplish everything you ever dreamed.

Happiness is a state of mind.

How you achieve it is by building a life around your current location. Making new friends, settling into a routine, finding ways in which to enjoy “the moment” rather than dwelling on all the things you could be doing or the places you could be visiting.

Remember that all we ever have is right now. Forget about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Take each day as it comes, and most of all, stop thinking that the grass is greener, because it never really is.

By Katy Cowan