February 20, 2008


"Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."

-Henry David Thoreau

I'll be honest...I've been struggling lately with being happy. Sometimes the more you think about not being happy, the harder it is to find. I read this article today which focused on important contributors to happiness. Here are some of the points that stuck with me...
  • Be Curious - The key is to engage in activities outside your comfort zone.
  • Give Thanks - Expressing gratitude has been shown in numerous studies to improve mood.
  • Don't Dwell - Ruminating lengthens period of depression....distract yourself : go for a run, get a manicure or play with your dog.
  • Talk to Strangers - It's a strong social norm to be cheerful around strangers, and when we act that way, we begin to feel that way.
  • Do A Good Thing - The Dalai Lama preaches that if you want to be happy, practice compassion. Doing something nice for someone, even if it's small, enhances mood.
  • Work Out - Even a brisk 5 to 10 minute walk will benefit your mood.
  • Breathe Deep - Deep breathing from your belly, increases levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter associated with happy, calm feelings) and lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
  • Go Fishing - Eating fish with Omega-3s has powerful effects on brain function and mood.
  • Enjoy Fats - The best mood enhancers: monosaturated fats (avocado, olive oil & nuts).
  • Add Background Music - Music can affect the pleasure center of the brain...the positive effect can last even after the music is over.
  • Take A Whiff - Smelling any scent that appeals to you can enhance your mood.

I'm going to give these a try and see if my happy butterfly quietly lands on my shoulder.