Thursday, July 17, 2014

Try a happiness boost

Some days you just need a shot of optimism—or a happiness boost. Ever feel that way? You may be sunny and cheerful most of the time, but still there are those days when it's difficult to crank it up.

What's a person to do? Actually, studies show that one of the best ways to give ourselves a boost is to reach out and help someone else. Visit a housebound friend. Take dinner to your sick aunt. Call the friend whose dog just died. Pay for someone else's coffee or toll. Invite to dinner that neighbor who just lost a spouse. We all know lots of people who could use a random act of kindness. You give yourself a happiness jolt when you reach out—and you give others one, too.

You also get a lovely booster shot of happiness when you learn how to express your emotions. If you like someone, tell them that. If you love someone, express that. Actually say it. And show it!  There's something quite wonderful about hearing those words from someone, and the same is true when you speak them. It's so much more freeing when your heart is open and you can actually say what you're feeling.

And if someone around you—family member, friend, coworker—seems sad, frustrated or extra happy, it can lead to some good conversation (and again, a boost of happiness) to comment on it. Ask about it. "You seem sad today. What's happening?" Or "You look especially happy. What put a smile on your face today?"

When you just aren't feeling it yourself, that's the time to think about opening up. Open up to others and reach out to serve them. Open up to others about how you think they're feeling—and say how you feel about others, too. Open or closed? I think open wins every time!

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