Everyone deserves to be happy, right?
Research has shown that once you take care of basic needs, additional money doesn’t materially increase your happiness level. We all know the quick purchase can provide short term gratification, but the longevity of this euphoria is not a sustainable source of happiness. Is there a blueprint that will likely increase our happiness?
A 2016 Forbes article I ran across shared some great research, and found a few methods that might generate happiness in our lives.
- Exercise. Strenuous workouts that put substantial emphasis on cardiovascular exercises (i.e. swimming, running, dancing, power walking, etc.) has recently been associated with growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain known to ward off depression.
- Eating. You are probably aware that processed sugars are linked to creating irritable moods, but until recently, the reasons have been unclear. Developing evidence indicates that our gut microbes alter our mental health in significant ways, and the foods we eat influence the amount and strains of bacteria in our gut, thereby impacting our mental health. Eating a plant-based diet results in less sugar and processed foods that facilitates body chemistry associated with happiness.
- Social. There is extensive research that suggests that communicating with other people on a regular basis may be the single best thing you can do for your mental health. We have a tendency to isolate ourselves when we become depressed, but if we have a community or support system of friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to fall back on, it can have a powerful counter-effect on depression.
- Structure. Evidence supports that people who maintain a structured schedule are better at warding off depression. For example, following a daily routine helps form habits which will keep you going when you are feeling down or depressed. Most habits may include eating well, getting exercise and engaging in social activity.
- Meditation. Studies have shown that eight weeks of meditation training does a better job of alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety than antidepressants. Among other things, medication reduces activity in the brain’s default mode network (DMNN), which is active when our minds are wandering into negative or stressful thoughts.
The article also compels one to be less self-critical and more self-compassionate. Anxiety and depression are triggered whenever we judge ourselves to be unworthy or not good enough.