How to be Happy Step #2: Create a Peaceful Ritual
In the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert healed from a hurtful divorce by spending month meditating at an Indian ashram. That's obviously not realistic for the majority of us, but we all could use somepeace—away from the Internet, TV,smartphones, and Twitter (find happiness without leaving home—Give your own Eat, Pray, Love a try)! And there's evidence to show that a little break is enough. All you need to do is take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath. "Be aware of the sound it makes as you inhale, the feel of it as it enters your lungs, the way your body loses tension when you exhale,"says Anderson. "It's okay if you're a little bored at first. Acknowledge that thought and then let it go." This helps develop mindfulness, or being in the moment. "Cultivating this quality allows you to become more flexible when dealing with tough situations, to be open to an experience without labeling it good or bad," says Anderson. And the benefits don't stop there. A study in Psychological Science showed that those who meditated regularly for three months had longer attention spans and performed better at detail-oriented tasks, while researchers from Stanford found that this daily practice helps you deal with anxiety.
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How to be Happy Step #3: Give Yourself a Tune-up
There's a reason that music is a prominent part of almost every religion in the world. "It expresses beliefs, emotions, and attitudes that words can't convey," says Donald Hodges, Ph.D., a professor of music at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Part of the reason it causes a rush is physiological—songs trigger the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones that give us a natural high. Another component is emotional: "Hearing certain tracks remind us of past events and the joy we felt then," says Hodges. Studies from Wake Forest University and Seattle University found that listening to music does everything from lowering anxiety and blood pressure to helping you deal with pain. Just use it the right way: Hodges notes that numerous studies have found that when music is always in the background, it may lose some of its potency to speak to you emotionally. So try to make it the focal point. Rather than turning on the TV when you get home, relax to one of your favorite CDs.
PLAYLISTS: The best tunes for every workout
| Dec 01, 2010