A sustained feeling of happiness is a mixture of traits like optimism and resilience, fed by behaviors such as expressing gratitude, forgiveness and being kind to others, and how we help others. All this held together by a strong sense of purpose.
Striving for well-being will allow you to perform better at work, have better relationships, a stronger immune system, fewer sleep problems, lower levels of burnout, better physical health and a longer life.
Another ingredient: a sense of community characterized by warm, supportive, satisfying relationships with others. People who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected. Living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.
Optimists are people who expect good things to happen to them. Looking on the bright side of life is really good for your health. Research has found a direct link between optimism and a stronger immune system, better lung function and cardiac health. The more positive the person, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and other causes of death. A positive outlook reduces the stress hormone cortisol which controls inflammation, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. These are all key factors in reducing disease development.
Optimists are more likely to exercise, have better diets and are less likely to smoke. Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem solvers. They are better at proactive coping or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them.
A sense of purpose and meaning in your life is a big part of living a longer, happier life. The way to happiness is not by choosing to be happy – it is finding meaning in life. Go volunteer, spend time at a charity, give something of yourself. To make ourselves happy we should focus on the well-being of others.
Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
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