Article Of The Week- Jan 1 - Jan 5 2018- Happy New Year!

Happy, Healthy New Year!

            Over the Christmas holidays my girls and I enjoyed one of our Christmas   traditions by watching Dr. Seuss' “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.  I'm         sure many of you remember the climactic moment in the movie when the           Grinch's loaded sleigh is dangling on the piece of ice and he comes to the   realization that the Who’s are still happy - joyful and celebrating in spite of the fact that he has stolen all of their belongings and all of their Christmas trappings.

It is officially the New Year and what I want for all of you is a healthy and happy 2018.  Because I'm a health care provider you may think that my primary focus is that you are healthy with less concern about your happiness.  The reason I'm concerned about your happiness is because the research says that you can't be truly healthy unless you are also mostly happy.  Among other things, happy people have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, stronger immune system function and they live longer.  Not to mention, life is more enjoyable when viewed through a lense of happiness and optimism.

Interestingly, being a happier person is more in our control than you may think.  Three factors have been identified that influence happiness – your genetics, your circumstances and your life choices or behaviours.  You don't have control over your genetics, and you may not have complete control over your circumstances, but you always have control over your choices and behaviours.

Most people assume that their happiness depends mostly on their circumstances (their income, their occupation, their possessions, the temperature outside, whether it's Monday or Friday), but researchers have found that circumstances only account for 10% of happiness, and that the happiness these things provide is temporary.  It is believed that 50% of happiness is related to genetics (your personality traits), and 40% is attributed to your choices.  This means that you can literally start making choices that will make you a happier person in 2018 if you consciously decide to do so.

Some people tend to feel a little blue once the holidays are over and they have to start taking down the Christmas decorations.  If that's you, or if you're just looking for a way to experience more happiness in 2018, read the reverse side of this article of the week for some habits that I found on the website that you can incorporate to make this year happier, and healthier!

Many blessings for the New Year!

Dr. Tim

Tips for a Happier 2018

Make happiness your goal – The first step toward greater happiness is to choose it.  You need to believe that happiness is possible, and that you deserve it.  Research shows that the mere INTENTION to become happier actually makes a big difference!

Identify that which makes you happy – If it's been a while since you've felt truly happy (that carefree joyous state that you probably felt as a child) you may have forgotten what it is that gets you there.  Take time to reflect on what gives you joy (family, hobbies, interests etc)

Ditch unnecessary and joyless distractions – this includes texts, tweets and emails which take you away from the true pleasures in life.  If necessary, turn off social media completely.  Research indicates the more time people spend on Facebook, the more their moment-to-moment happiness declines and the less satisfied with life they become

Prioritize experiences over things – research suggests experiences make us happier than possessions; the “newness” of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and “being alive”, both during the experience and when you reflect back on it.

Socialize – even with strangers – having meaningful social relationships is important for happiness, but even people who engage in “social snacking” report greater happiness.  Social snacking refers to the little ways you connect with others, including strangers, on a daily basis.

Get away – taking time away from the daily grind is important for helping you recharge.  And while a weekend getaway can give you a boost, a longer trip is better to help you create meaningful memories.     These memories can be tapped into later to help boost your happiness.

Spend more time outdoors – Exposure to bright outdoor light is crucial for a positive mood, in part because regular exposure to sunlight will help to enhance your mood and energy through the release of endorphins.  Getting sun exposure outdoors will also help you optimize your vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as chronic depression

Practice kindness – when people make a point to conduct 3 to 5 acts of kindness a week, something magical happens.  They become happier.  Simple acts of kindness – a compliment, letting someone ahead of you in line, paying for someone's coffee – are contagious and tend to make all those involved feel good

Savour pleasant moments – people who take the time to savour pleasant moments report higher levels of happiness, regardless of where the day takes them.  If you don't already do this, keeping a daily diary of pleasant moments is a good idea.  You might be surprised at how much happiness is to be had in your everyday life.  Try appreciating the scent of your coffee, relishing the feeling of your soft bed or enjoying the sunrise before you start your day.

Identify your sense of purpose – happiness isn't about pleasure alone; it's also about having a sense of purpose.  The term “eudaimonic well-being” originated with Aristotle, and describes the form of happiness that comes from activities that bring you a greater sense of purpose, life-meaning or self-actualization.  This could be your career, or it could be gleaned from volunteering



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