There is evidence that happier people do indeed live longer. It has long been believed that happy people are less prone to heart disease, and that belief is supported by science. One study demonstrated that one in five patients with coronary heart disease has a history of severe depression. Cancer researchers have found that laughter and joy increase levels of natural immunity. Laughter also increases the release of endorphins – compounds in your brain that give you a warm and fuzzy sense of well-being. Joyful people truly do live longer and healthier lives.
The question is, how to get happy? On one hand, anyone can have joy in their life, thanks to good friends, family, or work. But these same sources of joy can also bring stress. Nonetheless, you can be happy right now. Here are four tips to keep your life full of happiness!
1. Self-Awareness Leads to Happiness
My father, Hua-Ching Ni, has some very wise advice about how to attain happiness. As he says, “Thoughts become words, words become acts, acts become habits, habits express your character, and your character becomes your destiny.” Imagine if your thoughts were positive: You would feel happy most of the time! On the reverse side, negative thoughts release enzymes that attack your immune system, which can lead to disease.
Observe your thoughts and train your mind to hold positive thoughts. How? Use self-awareness to see your thoughts and observe which ones make you happy or unhappy. Your mind, and by extension, your mood, reflect the activity of your thoughts, which are influenced by your emotions. To change your mood, actively gain control of your thoughts and emotions.
Here is a sentence you can repeat to yourself as often as necessary: “From now on, I am the one who decides how I am going to respond.” You might not be able to change your whole attitude overnight, but over time, your self-awareness will develop and your happiness will grow.
You can also use therapeutic herbs to keep the unhappy thoughts at bay. Our herbal formula CalmFort is an herbal blend that helps you experience more inner peace and increases the body’s ability to cope with stress. You can find CalmFort and other herbal formulas at the Wellness Store or online at www.taostar.com.
2. Eat Foods that Promote Happiness
Every day, eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach to get happier. These foods are high in folate, a natural B-vitamin that helps the brain make serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness. Many studies have linked low levels of folate and serotonin to depression. Beet greens, chard, and other green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli are other good sources of folate. Also, omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in brain function and can help elevate your moods. Get a brain and mood boost from omega-3-rich flaxseed oils and oily fish, including mackerel, salmon, and trout. Just be sure you minimize fish such as shark, swordfish, and tuna, which are known to have high levels of mercury and other dangerous substances.
3. Wake Up with a Smile
Every morning, wake up and hold a big smile on your face, even if you aren’t feeling particularly cheerful. Believe it or not, just moving your facial muscles into a smile will increase endorphins and decrease the stress hormone cortisol that is released by the adrenal gland in times of stress. Repeat a positive affirmation to yourself in the mirror to heighten the happiness. Say to yourself something along the lines of, “I am proactive. I am diligent. I can handle the tasks I have ahead of me. I enjoy my responsibilities and fulfill them well.” Does this sound silly? It turns out that positive affirmations can also help suppress cortisol.
4. Get on the Bright Side
Make use of the rays you’ve got! Try to get 20 minutes of sunshine every day. Studies show that sunlight exposure helps stimulate your pineal gland, a small gland located behind your forehead that produces a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin plays a role in keeping our body clock on time, and helps regulate our inner rhythmic cycles – the circadian rhythm that controls your appetite, sleep, and sex hormones. Your pineal gland also affects the production of other brain chemicals, including serotonin. By getting the right amount of sunlight throughout the seasons, you can improve your mood and prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression associated with too little sunlight during the winter months.
Is there just not enough sun? My recommendation is that you use full-spectrum sun lamps, which have been found to correct the effects of SAD and give your mood a lift. Even in the winter, the sun’s rays can be stronger than you think; try to get your 20 minutes in before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that won the “L.A.’s Best” Award. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University
in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com