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HEALTH & WELLNESS by jeff csatari

10 Simple Steps to Happiness How to control your mood and stay satisfied with life.

SCOUTERS AND SCOUTS TEND to be a pretty jovial bunch. How else can you explain the watermelon cheer? But even though cheerfulness is mandated in the Scout Law, they, too, can become blue. For many people, the end-of-

year holiday season can be a time of particular sadness. In an uncertain eco- nomic climate, people may be more inclined to ruminate on disappoint- ments and worries. If you feel as if your cup is half

empty, there’s hope. In recent years, researchers in the field of positive psychology have found that human beings have an amazing capacity to influence their own happiness through deliberate effort. And “deliber- ate” doesn’t mean buying a new car. Having more money and possessions doesn’t have a huge effect on one’s happiness. Deliberately seeking happi- ness, however, can.

40 S COUTING ¿ NOVEMBER•DECEMBER 2012 Here you’ll find 10 of the most

effective ways psychologists, doctors, and clergy say an individual can increase his or her happiness and sat- isfaction with life. Give these strategies a try during the next month. Many of them reflect the guiding principles of the Scout Oath and Law. 1KNOW YOURSELF BETTER. “Self- knowledge is crucial to happiness,” says Mario Alonzo, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who developed a per- sonality test called “Exploring your personality and figur- ing out what makes you feel energetic and significant can have a profound effect on your happiness.” 2STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE. Think about it: There will always be someone richer, more attractive, smarter, and more accomplished than you. Instead think about the many people who have

greater struggles than you do, perhaps someone who is disabled, hungry, or homeless. Speaking of … 3COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. If 40 percent of happiness is derived from intentional activity, this is one of the easiest ways to nudge yourself out of woe-is-me thinking. A few times a week before going to bed, write down three things you feel grate- ful for, suggests Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California-Riverside. Counting your blessings is a powerful mood-lifter. 4PRACTICE GRATITUDE. Another happiness-boosting exercise: Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life. Not an e-mail. A typed or handwrit- ten letter on real stationary, using a real postage stamp. Even better: hand-deliver it and read it aloud to your benefactor. 5TAKE A BRISK WALK OUTSIDE. Exercise is one of our most effective natural mood-lifters. Studies have shown that regularly breaking a sweat can be as effective in treating depres- sion as anti-depressant medications. You don’t need to join a gym. Walking outside in bright sunshine is ideal. Researchers speculate that combining exercise with morning light exposure may amplify light’s beneficial effects on mood, sleep, and alertness. 6EAT SARDINES. Coldwater fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which researchers believe have not only strong heart-health benefits but signif- icant effects on brain health. Studies link docosahexaeonic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, to lower incidences of depression and suicide.


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