Let’s face it—any obstacle is easier and any problem is surmountable … when you are happy. As soon as a foul mood (fear plus anger) takes over, obstacles grow and solutions seem out of sight. I’m not talking rainbows and lollipops here, just plain fact.
Looking for the pot of goldThe funny thing is that most of us prefer being cheerful and calm rather than downcast and agitated, yet we seldom take purposeful action to build or maintain happiness. I know what you’re thinking—happiness is a byproduct, not a goal … right? Seek it and you lose it. I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate, though. After all, if you know going fishing makes you happy, then by all means … go fishing.
Then again, maybe you don’t like fishing. Maybe hiking or biking or watching old movies gets your particular happy juices flowing. You decide. Meanwhile, here are several items that tend to work across the board:
- Early to rise. North Dakota came in second on the 2011 Gallup Wellbeing Index. And North Dakotans tend to start their days early. A Roehampton University study found that early risers tend to be healthier and happier than those who liked to sleep in. Moreover, they accomplished more at both work and home. (The early-to-rise group members were up and going by 7 a.m. on the average.)
- Eat breakfast. That same Roehampton study observed that happy people are more likely to eat breakfast in the morning. Minnesota placed third for happiness on the Gallup Index—and everyone knows Minnesotans love to eat. What else are you going to do in the wintertime? (I’m kidding, people.) Seriously, though, a good breakfast in the morning helps to prevent overeating at lunchtime. And when you eat too much, you get sleepy—not the recommended way to approach the afternoon’s duties. Even if you are an advocate of a daily siesta, eat a healthy breakfast to get the day off to a smooth and happy start.
- Get your daily dose of sunshine. The number one state on the Gallup Wellbeing Index was Hawaii. And one thing Hawaii has is an abundance of is sunshine. Not only does that mean tans and surfing, but getting a dose of sunlight in the morning signals the body and mind to wake up. Wake up and what? Wake up and be happy, of course!
- Exercise. Utah and Alaska placed 4th and 5th, respectively, on the Index, and those two states know all about the value of hard, physical work. Those who aren’t fortunate to sweat it out at work, though, can substitute daily exercise. To knock off two birds with one stone, walk or jog while you are out getting your morning sunshine. Exercise reduces stress, gets your blood moving and helps wake you up. Wake up and what? You got it … be happy.
(Creative Commons smiley face illustration by South Carolina's Northern Kingdom)
Author Lane Goodberry focuses on health and wellness topics. Lane is a baby boomer who knows the value of happiness