Defining happiness is difficult, as happiness is actually a state of mind. What brings on happiness is therefore unique to the individual person; what makes you happy may be quite different from what makes your neighbor or your officemate happy.

Still, despite being hard to define, there’s something about happiness that has universal appeal. Virtually everyone strives for it, but not everyone will reach it.

One recent Harris Poll found that, despite an ostensibly recovering economy, only one in three Americans said they’re very happy, which means, of course, that two out of three are not.

Yet, as abstract, and at times as elusive, as happiness may be, there are proven ways to make yourself happier, and you can do many of these things starting today.

1. Exercise More Often

Exercise is one of the best strategies for overcoming depression. Indeed, it can have a dramatic impact on your mental health. For example, a Duke University team studied three groups that tried exercise only, exercise plus drugs, and drugs only,

to see what treatment best treated depression. They found that 10 months later, it was the exercise-only group that was most successful in maintaining wellness and avoiding a depression relapse!

Yet, exercise may still make you happier even if you’re not depressed. It can help you to feel better about your body, for starters, while also boosting levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress.

Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.

2. Get Proper Sleep

A lack of sleep makes it more difficult to recall pleasant memories (but gloomy memories are recalled just fine). Lack of sleep may also make you more susceptible to negative emotions like fear and anger, while taking a nap in the afternoon may enhance positive emotions.

Not to mention, sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and bipolar depression, while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems.

3. Shorten Your Commute

If you can move closer to where you work, or work closer to where you live, do it. A long commute is stressful and draining, even if it allows you to buy a bigger house or have a better job. Such factors do not make up for the unhappiness created by a longer commute, according to research by two Swiss economists. Generally speaking, it would take a 40 percent increase in pay to make up for a job with a longer commute.

4. Nourish Your Relationships

Friends and family mean everything in life, and research shows spending social time with your friends and loved ones generally makes people much happier. One study even found that relationships are worth more than $100,000 in terms of life satisfaction, while actual changes in income buy very little happiness.

5. Spend Time Outdoors

Simply going outside to get some fresh air and sunshine boosts mood, broadens thinking and improves working memory. One study found that it takes just 20 minutes outdoors to make most people happier, while other research showed that happiness is maximized when it’s 57 degrees F outside – so keep an eye on the thermometer!

6. Help Others

Volunteering can lower your risk of depression and anxiety, and significantly boost your psychological well-being. Not only does it keep you active and on your feet, but there’s a definite social aspect as well, both of which contribute to happiness. Volunteering to help others also gives you a greater sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good things releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

7. Smile

Putting on a fake smile can worsen your mood, but thinking positive thoughts and then smiling as a result can make you happier. When you smile at others, they’re also more likely to smile back in return, creating an ongoing feedback loop that may lead to more positivity in your life and the lives of others.

8. Plan a Vacation

It might be that the simple act of planning a vacation can make you happier, even if you don’t actually go on one. Research showed that people were happiest during the planning stage of their vacation, when their sense of anticipation was peaked. After the vacation was over, levels of happiness quickly returned to baseline.

9. Meditate

Meditation helps you keep your mind focused, calms your nerves and supports inner peace. Research shows it can even lead to physical changes in your brain that make you happier, including an increase in areas associated with compassion and self-awareness and a shrinking in areas associated with stress.

10. Practice Gratitude

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.
— Dr. Mercola


True Happiness Comes From Within

If there is one common thread to the tips above, it is that the factors that increase happiness tend to do so from the inside, as lasting happiness is not something that can be achieved from external sources. It may be helpful to remember that happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.

This is part of the power of affirmations, which can also help you to boost your happiness.

For example, starting each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is one way to put your mind on the right track. Also, remember that your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. So each moment of every day is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.

Most experts agree that there are no shortcuts to happiness. Even generally happy people do not experience joy 24 hours a day. But a happy person can have a bad day and still find pleasure in the small things in life.

Postponing your happiness until you reach a certain goal, like getting a promotion or pay raise to go on vacation, is a sure-fire way to stay stuck in misery. Instead, consciously spend a few minutes every day thinking about the good things in your life, such as eating a balanced meal or getting enough rest. Practice this every day and each day try to extend the time you spend on positive thoughts.

Additionally, while there is no rule or special formula that can make a person constantly happy, happiness tends to come more easily when you focus on developing positive social relationships and enjoyable work, and have a sense that life has meaning. Overall, having a spiritual dimension tends to be an essential component of happiness for most people as well.


Do you have any other little tips to share that make you happy?


Source: http://articles.mercola.com/...



By Megan Bruneau (Mind Body Green)

Anxiety is often caused by unhealthy thought patterns, worries and stress. However, sometimes that uncomfortable, distressful and at times panic-inducing experience has little to do with what we're thinking and more to do with our biochemistry or what we just ate. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how much we "talk it out" because our anxiety has little to do with our thoughts and more to do with these other culprits.

If you're feeling anxious and no idea what's brought on this feeling, ask yourself these questions:


1. Did You Just Have Caffeine, Sugar Or MSG?


All of the above can increase heart rate and cause hyperarousal and feelings of anxiety in some individuals. Pay attention to labels and notice if your body reacts to certain foods or drinks containing such ingredients. I, for example, am not generally affected by caffeine (although my colleague's anxiety skyrockets if she drinks it), but if I order Chinese and forget to make sure there's no MSG, I'm up all night with heart palpitations and catastrophic thoughts. 


2. Could Hormones Have Something To Do With It?

After deciding to cease oral contraceptives after a decade, I experienced a serious hormonal imbalance that mimicked menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations and cognitive and physical anxiety were present a good part of my days. After seeing my naturopath and working toward balancing my hormones, I noticed a significant improvement and felt calm (although anxiety still worsens for me at certain times in my cycle). If you're feeling anxious or depressed and can't pinpoint why, it might have to do with fluctuating or unbalanced hormones.

3. Are You Fatigued Or Getting Sick?

Low energy, foggy brain and a general sense of malaise contributes to anxiety in a couple of ways: Firstly, it creates a stress reaction as your body tries to fight illness and secondly, your cognitive functioning is affected, often resulting in feeling anxious, unfocused and indecisive. Remember to lower your expectations for yourself in this case, especially for tasks involving cognitive performance.

4. Did You Have A Few Too Many Glasses Of Wine Last Night?

I met a friend in Nicaragua who described his experience of "The Scaries" after we imbibed too much the night before. Before that, I thought I was the only one who experienced feelings of depression and anxiety as byproducts of a hangover (why do we drink again?). Alcohol messes with our nervous system and neurotransmitter levels, which can cause anxiety (or "The Scaries").


5. What's The State Of Your Gut Bacteria?

Growing evidence is revealing a connection between gut bacteria and anxiety. This is thought to be due to the vagus nerve, which connects the gut to the brain. Take your probiotics and be mindful of food intolerances! Many people have no idea of the brain-gut connection or that their diet could be contributing to their experience of anxiety.

6. Could Your Blood Sugar Be Low?

We're programmed to go into a state of anxiety in response to low blood sugar. Our body says "hunger" and sends our brain the message to find food. Some of us are more sensitive to this experience than others, so it might not be a bad idea to pay attention to your experience of anxiety's relationship to hunger.

7. Could You Be Deficient In Certain Nutrients?

B complex vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, potassium, magnesium, GABA and zinc all play vital roles in neurotransmitter and nervous system function. Deficiencies in such nutrients are related to increased anxiety. Consider visiting a naturopath, holistic nutritionist or dietitian and supplementing your diet with some of these nutrients if you believe you aren't getting enough.

So, the next time you're experiencing anxiety and can't seem to talk yourself out of it, see if any of these factors might be coming into play.

Do You Suffer From Anxiety? Maybe It’s Time You Give It The Axe…

Megan Bruneau is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at a post-secondary institution in Vancouver, Canada. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Family Studies. Previously involved in personal training and yoga industries, Megan practices psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral therapy grounded in Buddhist philosophy. Megan's articles focus on universal human struggles and the benefits of self-compassion--topics she draws from themes in her privileged work as a psychotherapist and personal experience. In her spare time, Megan enjoys traveling, tennis, soccer, cycling, snowboarding and yoga.

Source: http://www.mindbodygreen.com...



What Should You Know About It?

By Cathy Wong, ND

Updated May 16, 2014 from About.com

Reflexology is a form of bodywork that focuses primarily on the feet.

How does it work?

The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are "reflex" areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body.

For example:

  {C}the tips of the toes reflect the head

  {C}the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot

 {C}the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot

 {C}low back and intestines are towards the heel

He believed that certain areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body. This concept was furthered by physiotherapist Eunice Ingham into the modern practice of reflexology.

Practitioners believe that applying pressure to these reflex areas can promote health in the corresponding organs through energetic pathways.

Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of "zone therapy" in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed this zone theory in the 1930's into what is now knows as reflexology.

A scientific explanation is that the pressure may send signals that balance the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce pain and stress.

What will I feel?

Most people find reflexology for the most part to be very relaxing.

Reflexology shouldn't be painful. If you feel discomfort, be sure to tell the reflexologist. He or she should work within your comfort zone.

Some areas may be tender or sore, and the reflexologist may spend extra time on these points. The soreness should decrease with pressure.

If you're ticklish, not to worry. The reflexologist applies firm pressure to the feet.

Why do people get reflexology?

 {C}Stress and stress-related conditions

Tension headaches

 {C}Digestive disorders



 {C}Hormonal imbalances

 {C}Sports injuries

 {C}Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

 {C}Digestive problems, such as constipation

 {C}Back pain

Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy. It promotes relaxation, improves circulation, reduces pain, soothes tired feet, and encourages overall healing.

Reflexology is also used for post-operative or palliative care. A study in the American Cancer Society journal found that one-third of cancer patients used reflexology as a complementary therapy.

Reflexology is recommended as a complementary therapy and should not replace medical treatment.

What is a typical reflexology treatment like

A typical treatment is 45 minutes to 60 minutes long and begins with a consultation about your health and lifestyle.

You are then asked to remove your shoes and socks and sit comfortably in a reclining chair or on a massage table. Otherwise you remain fully clothed.

The reflexologist will assess the feet and then stimulates various points to identify areas of tenderness or tension.

The reflexologist then uses brisk movements to warm the feet up. Then pressure is applied from the toes to the heel according to your comfort.

Lotion or oil may be used.

How will I feel after?

Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. They may even feel sleepy. 

Occasionally, people feel nauseous, anxious, or tearful, but this is only temporary and is considered to be part of the healing process.


If you're pregnant, talk with your doctor first and let the reflexologist know.

Be sure to give the reflexologist a complete and accurate health history. If you have foot ulcers, injury, or blood vessel disease such as blood clots, consult your doctor before having reflexology.



Reflexology Can Be Helpful for Cancer Patients [Study] Posted: November 17, 2012
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/402448/reflexology-can-be-helpful-for-cancer-patients-study/#DjtOM8XPoDf48VYL.99

Michigan State University researchers claim that reflexology –  a method  of foot massage that is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine — can be beneficial to patients  diagnosed with cancer.

According to its proponents, reflexology, an ancient natural healing  technique, stimulates specific points on the feet to improve the function and  energy flow to corresponding organs throughout the body. It is also said to  relax and recharge the body.

The study, which apparently is the first major study of reflexology as a  companion to standard treatment protocols,  followed 385 women who were  being treated conventionally for breast cancer (i.e., with chemotherapy or  hormonal therapy). Researchers interviewed the women about their symptoms at the  beginning and then five and 11 weeks later. The patients were randomly assigned  to three groups — those who received treatment from a certified reflexologist,  those who got an ordinary foot massage, and those who just stuck with the  conventional medical treatment.

A MSU report summarizes the findings as follows:

“[Researchers] found that those in the reflexology group experienced  significantly less shortness of breath, a common symptom in breast cancer  patients. Perhaps as a result of their improved breathing, they also were better  able to perform daily tasks such as climbing a flight of stairs, getting dressed  or going grocery shopping.”

MSU nursing professor Gwen Wyatt, the lead author of the study, remarked that  this is a breakthrough for reflexology:

“It’s always been assumed that it’s a nice comfort measure, but to this point  we really have not, in a rigorous way, documented the benefits. This is the  first step toward moving a complementary therapy from fringe care to mainstream  care.”

Wyatt admitted, however, that reflexology did not seem to help with the  patients’ emotional issues such as anxiety or depression.

She did note that those patients who just got a plain-vanilla foot massage  also reported less fatigue. As a result, “Wyatt is now researching whether  massage similar to reflexology performed by cancer patients’ friends and family,  as opposed to certified reflexologists, might be a simple and inexpensive  treatment option.”

The MSU reflexology study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, was  published in the November issue of the Oncology Nursing Forum. The study concludes that “reflexology may be added to existing evidence-based supportive care to improve  [health-related quality of life] for patients with advanced-stage breast cancer  during chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy.”

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/402448/reflexology-can-be-helpful-for-cancer-patients-study/#DjtOM8XPoDf48VYL.99