COPING WITH THE DARK – FINDING HAPPINESS AND JOY IN THE DARK DAYS OF FALL AND WINTER

It’s been a little over a week now since the clocks changed back, and I find myself mourning the loss of the light of day and the warmth of the sun. This is always I tough time for me and I think it is for a lot of other people too. It’s a time when we pull back and reflect on the past year and then try to think forward to what’s next. But forward thinking can be tough at this time of year, as many of us get stuck on thinking more about what was than on what could be.

So, with that in mind, I decided to do a little scavenging for articles on happiness. The one I’m attaching here is very simple – it refers to 10 studies on happiness, several of which debunk a couple myths of happiness (that money and possessions bring happiness), and a few others that are reflective of the simple practices that can help us maintain our connection to basic happiness and connection.

The practices can be summarized as follows:

  • Maintain a simple gratitude practice to increase overall happiness (note at least 3 things each day that you are grateful for – they should be mostly different things each day).
  • Hug the people you love. Increased levels of oxytocin are associated with happiness and can be achieved simply through eight hugs a day.
  • Think positive thoughts and smile. Smiling as a result of thinking positive thoughts improves mood. When we place our thoughts on the positive we feel more positively.
  • Surround yourself with happy and joyful people. Happiness is contagious.
  • Engage in acts of kindness. It helps others feel good, and rebounds to help you feel good too. One simple compliment each day or a simple random act of kindness works wonders.
  • Exercise. People who exercise on workdays are happier and have less stress in their lives. Really, if you make sure you move every day you will feel better.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering results in improved mental health overall and decreased feelings of depression.
  • Give generously. Generosity promotes happiness. Whenever you can spend more on others than you do on yourself.

As you can see these are very simple and basic practices. One needs only to decide to try them out to see that they begin to work almost immediately and make these dark days of fall and winter a little easier to bear.

For more information on the studies and more detail on the practices see the full article, as attached. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/happier/


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