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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

How are you feeling today? In a world full of 24-hours news that tends to focus on negative events, an ongoing global pandemic, and growing divisiveness, “happy” might not be the first emotion that comes to mind. According to NORC at the University of Chicago, only 14% of American adults said they were very happy in 2020, which is the lowest percentage since the poll has been conducted over the past 50 years.

Closeup of diverse senior adults sitting by the pool enjoying summer together

If you find yourself in the 86% of adults who are not feeling very happy, is there anything you can do about it? The wonderful (and happy) news is that the answer to this question is an enthusiastic “YES!” Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. Scientists in the field have found proven ways to increase a person’s level of happiness.

Action for Happiness is a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom and their mission is to create more happiness in the world. In a joint endeavor with Vanessa King, they developed the Ten Keys to Happier Living, a framework based on the latest research relating to physical, psychological, and mental wellbeing. The first 5 keys focus on daily life and how we relate and interact with the external world, while the last 5 keys focus on qualities that are internal and shaped by our attitudes. The Ten Keys are:

  1. Giving: Do things for others
  2. Relating: Connect with people
  3. Exercising: Take care of your body
  4. Awareness: Live life mindfully
  5. Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  6. Direction: Have goals to look forward to
  7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotions: Focus on what’s good
  9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger

You can remember the ten keys because together, they spell out GREAT DREAM. You can download a free, in-depth guidebook that provides an introduction, an image, a question, a quote, and practical action ideas for each key.

Knowing ten ways to increase your happiness is a great start. Now comes the fun part: trying out these keys for yourself. Commit to trying one of the keys today and make plans to try the others over time. Not only will you have fun and learn new things, but you have the potential of joining that small and fortunate group of people who report being very happy. As the Dalai Lama has said, Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

A final note: Positive psychology recognizes that not everyone feels happy all the time nor does it dismiss real problems that people experience. If you have a difficult time feeling happy, even when you keep trying, reach out to a friend, a professional, and/or a support service, like Ohio CareLine. Also keep in mind that many medications can have mental health side effects. Don’t struggle alone and remember that asking for help is a sign of great strength.

Resources:
To learn more about happiness and find additional educational resources, visit https://go.osu.edu/mental-health-and-well-being-warren-co

References:
Action for Happiness. (n.d.). Great Dream: Ten Keys to Happier Living. https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/530511/ten_keys_guidebook.pdf

King, V. (2016). 10 Keys to Happier Living. London, United Kingdom: Headline Publishing Group.

NORC (2020). Issue Brief: Historic Shift in Americans’ Happiness Amid Pandemic. NORC at the University of Chicago.
https://www.norc.org/PDFs/COVID%20Response%20Tracking%20Study/Historic%20Shift%20in%20Americans%20Happiness%20Amid%20Pandemic.pdf

Peterson, C. (2008, May 16). What is positive psychology, and what is it not? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-good-life/200805/what-is-positive-psychology-and-what-is-it-not

Stanton, L. (2020, December 10). Serious mental health side effects related to Singulair. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension.
https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/12/10/serious-mental-health-side-effects-related-to-singulair

Stanton, L. (2021, July 13). How happiness protects heart health. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension.
https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/07/13/how-happiness-protects-heart-health

Written by: Laura M. Stanton, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, MS, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

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Since my last blog article From Languishing to Flourishing, I have continued to ponder on what it means to flourish. Today’s blog post was inspired by this quote by Robert Fulghum… “‘Who do you think you are?’ That’s the big one, isn’t it? A flourishing life depends on how you answer that.” 

The quest for self-knowledge has fascinated philosophers and sojourners alike for millennia. Socrates told us that “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” So basically, we need to know ourselves before we can know anything else. Self-Awareness is the ability to be aware of one’s inner life—one’s emotions, thoughts, behaviors, values, preferences, strengths, attitudes, etc., and how this inner life impacts behavior.

Person holding cell phone with reflection of own face

There is great benefit to knowing oneself. When you know yourself well, you can:

  • Live happier
  • Make better choices
  • Resist social pressure
  • Strengthen resilience
  • Boost self-confidence
  • Understand and tolerate others
  • Live with vitality and enjoyment

Author Meg Selig uses the acronym VITALS to help us understand how to achieve greater self-knowledge.

Values – Even by just thinking about your values, you’re more likely to act in accordance with them. What’s most important to you?

Interests – What are your hobbies, likes, activities? You can ask yourself these questions: What draws your attention? What piques your curiosity? What concerns you?

Temperament – This is the tendencies we were born with. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you like the big picture or the details? Do you plan ahead, or figure it out as you go?

Activities Around the Clock – What is your best time of day? Are you a morning or evening person? How do your biorhythms affect your day?

Life Mission and Goals – What have been the most meaningful events in your life… and how have those events impacted and shaped who you are?

Strengths – What are you really good at? What character strengths do you have? What do other people compliment you on? Knowing your strengths can boost your confidence. Additionally, understanding your weaknesses can give you a realistic picture of yourself and help guide you in areas to improve upon.

For more ideas and a meditation on how to advance your self-awareness, see this post by Harvard Medical School. According to this post, most people tend to overestimate their level of self-awareness. What can you learn about yourself this week? It just might surprise you!

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

Sources:

Advance your self-awareness. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Jan 13, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/advance-your-self-awareness

SEL for Adults: Self-Awareness and Self-Management.” Greater Good in Education. 2019. https://ggie.berkeley.edu/my-well-being/sel-for-adults-self-awareness-and-self-management/

Selig, M. “Know Yourself? 6 Specific Ways to Know Who You Are.” Psychology Today. Mar 9, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201603/know-yourself-6-specific-ways-know-who-you-are

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. When people think about heart health, they often think about the impact of diet and exercise. However, a growing body of research has also established a connection with positive thinking, optimism, and happiness.

For example, do you tend to view the cup as half empty or half full? If you view the cup as half full, you are less likely to develop heart disease than if you view the cup as half empty. While negative emotions such as depression and anger are risk factors for heart disease, optimism and happiness seem to protect the heart.

In one study, people with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease while people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk. In another study, women with the highest levels of optimism had a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease than those with negative attitudes. In this study, optimism was defined as feeling hopeful and confident about the future.

Cheerful diverse people together in a park

How can the connection between positive psychology and heart health be explained? Three possible explanations are:

  1. Lifestyle: Happy people tend to sleep better, eat better, smoke less, and get more exercise; all behaviors that lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. Physiology: Happiness produces positive chemical changes and reduces stress hormones.
  3. Genetics: People who are predisposed to happiness may also be predisposed to have lower rates of heart disease.

If you tend to see the cup half empty, don’t despair! Research suggests that negative people feel happier when they:

  • Express gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Practice being optimistic.
  • Initiate random acts of kindness.
  • Engage in mindfulness activities.
  • Visualize their best self.
  • Savor joyful events.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Get outside.

Medical professionals advocate that you should devote 15 to 20 minutes a day doing something that brings you joy. What can you commit to doing every day to increase your happiness and take care of your heart at the same time? We would love to hear your ideas and plans.

If you still find yourself searching for happiness but not quite achieving it, you should reach out and talk to a health care professional. Together, you should consider environmental factors that could be impacting you, such as your diet, lack of sleep, or potential mental health side effects from medication.

To learn more about the importance of happiness and your health, join us for Happiness 101 on August 25, 2021 at 12noon. To register for this free, 30-minute Wellness Wednesday Webinar sponsored by Live Healthy Live Well, visit: go.osu.edu/WellnessWeds

Written by: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu.

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 8). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Davidson, K. W., Mostofsky, E., & Whang, W. (2010). Don’t worry, be happy: positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: the Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey. European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1065–1070. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862179

Kim, E. S., Hagan, K. A., Grodstein, F., DeMeo, D. L., De Vivo, I., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2017). Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 185(1), 21–29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209589

Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372–1378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612445312

Pitt, B. & Deldin, P.J. (2010). Depression and cardiovascular disease: have a happy day—just smile!, European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1036–1037. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehq031

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Lately I have been feeling even more isolated and alone than I did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found myself retreating and not reaching out to others in the same ways that I did a year ago. But a couple weeks ago, some friends called and asked me to join them for a small girls’ night out dinner. We safely socially distanced from others, and the four of us enjoyed an evening at a hotel together. THAT event has changed my train of thought. I was feeling bad for myself and feeling very lonely, which is not easy as an extroverted person. But what I realized was that even if I cannot spend time with people physically, I do not have to wait for them to contact me. Connection is a two-way street. I can reach out even while staying “safe”.

Connection looks different in every relationship. Sometimes you have a connection because of chemistry with another. Sometimes it is a “forced” interaction because you are colleagues, in class together, or share a common interest. We communicate through verbal and non-verbal signals that can drive connection or cause disconnection. Social media is also a major form of connection for many of us.

YOU WERE MADE FOR CONNECTION. Even if you are an introverted person, I am sure you still have a small circle of people you trust and who are important to you. Interactions drive our daily lives. Connecting with others helps us remember that we matter. Our brains thrive from connection. 

We were also made to show connection through safe, physical touch. Hugging releases oxytocin* and dopamine* and directly impacts cortisol* levels. It is recommended that we should receive 10 second hugs– 8 a day for maintenance, 12 a day for growth, and upwards of 18 for optimal mental health.

  • Oxytocin promotes feeling of contentment, reduces stress, and promotes bonding.
  • Dopamine is linked to Parkinson’s disease (low levels) and Schizophrenia (high levels). Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. Lack of dopamine can lead to procrastination, self doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood and motivation.

In high stress states it feels like our body cannot contain emotion without someone to hold us. Touch is not a single sense. Having your back rubbed stimulates neurons that release oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol. Vicarious touch can help us to soothe ourselves. A hunger for touch means a need is not met.

We are also our own biggest barrier to connection. We tell ourselves we are okay. We tell ourselves that we can handle it. We tell ourselves we don’t want to bother anyone. I encourage you to please stop doing that to yourself. Think about how you feel when someone reaches out to you and wants to spend time with you. It makes you feel wanted and needed and important. 

Take control of your own well-being. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Send a text. Make a list of who you miss and start putting “Connect with _____________________” on your to-do list every day. It will make a difference. I know it has for me.

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

RESOURCES

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Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Promotes mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Barred Owl. JPEG file.

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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park

While scanning the paper recently, an obituary caught my eye:

“After 96 years of vigorous living, Ralph passed peacefully. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He made friends easily wherever he went.  He made a difference in people’s lives, challenging people to do their best in business, sports, in their families and even in their fun.   He mentored many associates both young and old.  Believing in the rights and dignity of all, he organized an open housing committee at the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His family was the most important part of his life, especially his wife with whom everyday was a party. Their life together was fun. Join us to celebrate his life at the 18th green with a reception to follow in the clubhouse.”

After reading this, I wondered.  Are we living our best life? We all want to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives. Are we taking the time and necessary steps to achieve these goals?

Start today:

  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend more time with loved ones
  • Smile more
  • Forgive
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Spread positive energy
  • Get more sleep
  • Get fresh air
  • Volunteer
  • Enjoy a part of everyday

We only get one life. Forget about what other people are doing and focus on your life and your path to happiness.  At the end of the day and at the end of your life, that is all that matters.

I wish I had known Ralph.   He has inspired me to live my best life.  Thank you Ralph.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/choosing-to-be-happy#1

https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits.html

 

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Last week, we wrapped up another successful county fair.  I am always so impressed with the way that so many people work together to make the county fair a success.  From crowning the royalty to recycling the recyclables, from  show choir  to  demolition derby, from  open class competitions to livestock shows from  food tents to 4-H projects,  volunteers and fair staff come together to insure that it all gets done.Group of youth at fairgrounds smiling

But what I really love most of all is the community that I witness as I walk through the buildings, barns, and on the midway.  It’s a time when people are engaging with others in face to face conversation, catching up with friends over some delicious food, and children are laughing and playing together.  It is truly a place where for a week we celebrate one another, jump in and assist as needed, and seem to go back in time to another era.

Building community is a vital part of our development.  A community can be defined as “emerged as a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.” Where is your community? Where do you find others who support you, help you, laugh with you, cry with you?

Girls standing in a line at a county fair with girls on their shoulders

GirlsHealth.gov offers some suggestions to become a better member of your community.

  • Treat others well.
  • Show other people respect even if you have beliefs that are different
  • Get to know people before making up your mind about them
  • Stand up for your beliefs
  • Be someone people can rely on to do a good job
  • Volunteer at places like a nursing home, homeless shelter, food pantry, or humane society
  • Help a neighbor or someone else who could use a hand

Each night as you go to sleep, can you look back on your day and be happy with your actions towards yourself and others? Being a part of a community, whether small or large, is a sign that you are never alone. I hope you have found a community that brings a smile to your face and fills your heart with laughter like I have.Male and Female youth smiling holding sticks

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator,Wood County

References:

MacQueen KM, McLellan E, Metzger DS, et al. What Is Community? An Evidence-Based Definition for Participatory Public Health. American Journal of Public Health. 2001;91(12):1929-1938. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446907/  

Girlshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.girlshealth.gov/relationships/community/

Photo Credits:

Kim Wooley Camper, Cheap $hots Photography, https://www.facebook.com/Cheap-hots-Photography-Kim-Woolley-Camper-138367259532875/ 

Kolt Buchenroth, https://www.facebook.com/hardincountyfair/

 

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While on a recent family vacation in another state, my sister ended up in the Emergency Department at a hospital. She had multiple fractures in her foot and ended up in a cast up to her knee. This injury was the result of her long term Type 1 Diabetes. She recently had a heart stent put in and had been walking about a mile a day – for her heart health. Little did she know that she had multiple fractures in her foot. Now it made sense that her foot swelled so much each evening.

This experience showed us the kindness of strangers that I want to share. We experienced several random acts of kindness during this time. Research shows that random acts of kindness and generosity increase happiness in the giver. The medical staff fit her with crutches and instructed her to keep weight off her foot. This sounds like an easy task but it can be challenging to maneuver crutches. She was able to get around but still struggled with the crutches.

Kindness

The next day she wanted to sit at the pool by the beach to watch family members parasail. If you are mobile, this is easy, just walk in and sit by the pool. It isn’t so easy if you are on crutches. But…. we experienced another act of kindness – a little boy (approximately 10 years old) stood there holding the gate until my sister could get in. A puddle of dirty pool water was inside the gate; his sister saw it, took her towel, and dried the cement so that Debbie didn’t get her cast wet. I looked at the mother and said she doesn’t have to do that with her towel – their mother said, “that’s ok” and let her do it. I was so touched that they knew the importance of being kind to a stranger. Someone in their family taught them to think of others.

Another instance we experienced included having a Physical Therapist Assistant ask if we needed help with the crutches as my sister made her way to the restroom on our drive home. She said the crutches are not the right height for her and asked if we wanted her to adjust them so that they fit. We said, “of course, we need all the help we can get” and she sat down on a bench, took the crutches and adjusted them on the spot. This made it so much easier to maneuver. We told the PT Assistant thanks for asking and she said sometimes she isn’t sure if she should interfere – we told her, yes! Her act of kindness helped us and we were grateful.

Another act of kindness included people holding the doors open as we struggled to move around with the crutches. This happened many times over our last few days of vacation.

Why is it important to share these experiences? As parents or grandparents, you can foster kindness in children. This short YouTube video featuring Dr. Christine Carter, “Raising Kind Kids” from Greater Good Science Center UC Berkeley shares a few key suggestions to encourage kids to be kind.

Are you ready to experience happiness by giving to others? Take this “Random Acts of Kindness” Challenge by doing 5 random acts in one day. Record how you feel and comment on their page. Another fun option is to pass out these Smile Cards. Complete an act of kindness, leave the Smile Card and keep the spirit going!

What are you waiting for? Try kindness today!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Sources:

Breines, J., Three Strategies for Bringing More Kindness into Your Life, retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_strategies_for_bringing_more_kindness_into_your_life

Carter, C., Raising Kind Kids, Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley, YouTube retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/video/item/raising_kind_kids

Random Acts of Kindness Challenge, Greater Good in Action, University of California – Berkeley’s Greater Good Center, retrieved from: UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.  http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/random_acts_of_kindness

Smile Cards, KindSpring.org retrieved from: http://www.kindspring.org/smilecards/

 

 

 

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springhealth

Spring has arrived!  Imagine warmer days, flowers blooming and the smell of fresh cut lawns!  It’s also the perfect time to take inventory of our health.

  • Schedule appointments and health screenings.  Talk with your doctor to determine a health plan that works for you.
  • De-clutter your medicine cabinet.  Medication should be stored in a dry, cool cabinet.  Check the expiration dates of all medications.   Check with the drug stores or police departments to learn how to dispose safely of old medications.
  • Discard old makeup.  Most products have a one year shelf life.  Throw out products that have an odor or separation of ingredients.
  • Find your calm.  Learn to decrease stress instantly.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, envision a place that is peaceful.
  • Choose in-season, local produce.  Visit a farmers’ market and gain nutritional benefits with spring produce.
  • Go outside-talk a walk and benefit from physical activity and the wonders of the arrival of spring.
  •  Improve your happiness – get rid of clothes in your closet that don’t flatter you.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t want.  Research reveals that helping out others improves our happiness.

Take these steps to help improve your overall health and enjoy spring!

Author:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD.  Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/spring-clean

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It seems “Happy, Happy, Happy” is sweeping the nation with nearly twelve million viewers of the popular reality television show, Duck Dynasty. Happy, Happy, Happy is the motto of Phil Robertson, one of its cast members. No, I’m not advocating you watch more television; or even take up duck hunting; however, there is something to be said for Phil’s “happy, happy, happy” approach to life. Perhaps you know people who are always happy. MP900386362

Which poses the question . . . are you born with a happy attitude set-point, is happiness a learned behavior, or a product of our environment/upbringing, and/or a combination of all of these?

Research has shown that our talent for happiness is, to a large degree, determined by our genes. Psychology professor David T. Lykken, author of Happiness: The Nature and Nurture of Joy and Contentment, says that “trying to be happier is like trying to be taller.” We each have a “happiness set-point” he argues, and we move away from it only slightly.

In short, we may be born with a happiness “set-point,” as Lykken calls it, but we are not stuck there. Happiness depends on how we manage our emotions and our relationships with others.

There are two types of people in the world; those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves. Unhappy people believe they need to obtain certain material items or levels of achievement to be happy. A few notable differences between happy and unhappy people are as follows:

1. Happy people make an effort to surround themselves with positivity; they do not enjoy being around people that send out negative vibrations and who deflate their mood. Happy people make a conscious effort to engage with other happy people so they can have healthy and positive friendships and relationships.
2. Happy people do not waste their days being jealous of other people. Happy people have no need to desire everything that someone else has. They are purely content with their own life and who they are.
3. Happy people take time for themselves. It is imperative for a happy life. Happy people make sure they put aside 10 to 20 minutes each day for personal time because they know how important it is for stress reduction and general well-being.
4. Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff. They believe they can overcome most obstacles that life presents and they do not put themselves through any unwanted stress over issues that can be solved.
5. Forgiveness is a fact of life. Happy people find it easy to forgive and move on. They realize the damage of holding on to anger and how it can affect general health and quality of life.

Happy people like Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty do many things differently and they make sure they do everything wholeheartedly and with great effort. They are passionate people who usually have a big smile on their face and live their lives to the fullest every day.

Choose to be happy. Push the “delete” button on negative thoughts and “evict” those individuals or thoughts you have allowed to live “rent free” in your head/life to keep yourself positive. You will have less stress and enjoy life more.

References:

Jett, Pamela (2012). National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, Keynote Speaker

Lykken, David T.(1999). Happiness: The Nature and Nurture of Joy and Contentment by St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York

Valeo, Tom. Choosing to be Happy – Strategies for Happiness: 7 Steps to Becoming A Happier Person, Web MD

Written by: Cynthia R. Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Smith, M.S., RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Lindimore, Ohio State University Extension Office Associate, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

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