10 Ways To Be Happier Right Now

Do you want to be a better fundraising professional? If so, you need to work on being a happier person.

Sadly, 48 percent of Americans are not very happy.

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to understand why. If you pick up a newspaper, tune into the television evening news, search the Internet for the latest current event stories, you’ll find plenty of reasons to not be very happy. You might not even need to look that far. Perhaps, you’re facing economic or health challenges at home, or an uninspiring job that doesn’t pay you what you deserve.

While many things are out of our control, there are nevertheless some steps we can take to enhance our level of happiness. By taking care of ourselves and by building our happiness, we’ll develop stronger relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and supporters of our organizations.

Your level of happiness affects all aspects of your life, personal and professional. That’s why I want to share some tips to help you be happier which will, in turn, lead you to better health and greater professional success. By being happier, you’ll be a more effective fundraising professional.

Think about it. Would you rather be around someone who is happy or unhappy? It’s not really a hard choice, is it?

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was naturally scared and miserable. After some serious contemplation, I realized that I could be sick and miserable or I could choose to be just sick. Being sick was bad enough. Why would I also want to be miserable, too?

My choice has made it easier for people to stay close to me and to help me when I need it as my fight continues. I’m also convinced that my positive attitude has profoundly benefitted my health; the science backs me up on this. While I certainly don’t like having cancer, I am continuing to enjoy life.

How to be Happy via Life Coach SpotterRecently, Rana Tarakji, of the Life Coach Spotter, sent me a terrific infographic with 10 practical, science-backed tips for helping us to enhance our happiness and, as a result, improve our well-being, relationships, and professional success:

1. Laugh. That’s right. Laugh more. It’s good for you. Laughter reduces physical pain, reduces heart attack risk, increases blood flow, boosts immunity, and enhances energy level.

2. Thank. Feeling and expressing gratitude boosts happiness. The old adage that encourages us to count our blessings and be grateful for what we have has validity. Researchers have demonstrated that expressing gratitude to others actually increases our own happiness.

For example, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, asked study participants to write and deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness. Following the completion of the task, participants’ happiness scores increased significantly.

See. Not only is thanking a donor good for the donor and your organization, it’s good for you, too!

3. Love. When we send love out into the universe, love returns to us. Those who maintain strong, loving relationships are happier and healthier. Perhaps it’s because we all know the value of love that we often take it for granted. We need to be careful. Love takes work. We need to actively plan to spend quality time with those important to us.

4. Smile. The average person smiles only 20 times per day. By contrast, happy people smile 45 times a day. While happy people are more likely to smile, science has proven that smiling more will make you happier. Even fake smiles will release pleasure hormones that will make you happier. As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh says:

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

5. Meditate. Meditation is not an activity reserved for New Age folks. Anyone can do it and derive benefit from it. There are large varieties of ways to mediate. Personally, I like Guided Imagery.

Meditation offers a number of proven benefits. When I was hospitalized, I found meditation calming. I also found, to my surprise, that it reduced my pain level. To be effective, meditation takes practice. However, over time, you will see the benefits for yourself. You can learn some simple meditation techniques by clicking here.

6. Relax. Years ago, I heard the great sales guru Tom Hopkins speak. He said that to be successful, we need to do the most important thing at any given moment. That does not mean turning yourself into a workaholic. Instead, it means that at times we certainly need to work hard. However, it also means that we need to recognize that, at other times, the most important thing to do is to relax and refresh ourselves. Life balance is essential for happiness.

7. Give. It’s important for us to practice what we preach. When we give — donate, volunteer, act kindly, provide presents, etc. — we enhance our own happiness. In a report in Science, Michael Norton revealed that people tend to be happier when they give money to others rather than when they spend it on themselves.

The Dalai Lama has shared some excellent wisdom on this point:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

8. Socialize. When we spend time with positive, energetic, loving people, we become happier. It’s contagious. Humans are social animals. However, be careful when choosing who to socialize with. It’s important to keep toxic people out of our lives or, at least, minimize their presence and control our reaction to them.

9. Experience. Stagnation can lead to unhappiness. One way to avoid stagnation is to regularly seek out new experiences. This may mean traveling somewhere you’ve never been, or simply trying a single malt Scotch for the first time. The key is to avoid living in a rut. By seeking out new experiences and by truly experiencing the moments in which we live, we will make ourselves happier.

10. Exercise. Okay, I’m not really a fan of this one. I think exercise is counter to the evolutionary process. And I’m not a big fan of sweat. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that exercise does offer many benefits.

Following my surgery for cancer, I worked on walking more regularly and further distances. I also engage in yoga at least a couple of times each week. I enjoy the me-time. I enjoy being more fit and flexible. Moderate exercise has certainly aided in my recovery, and has made me a more relaxed, energetic, happier person as a result. The key is to find the exercise regimen that is right for you so that you’ll actually do it and enjoy it.

I’ve just scratched the surface of what it takes to be happier. I hope you’ll find at least some of the 10 tips to be useful. Most of the tips can be done for free; so, that should make you happy, too. Happiness is not something that just happens. We need to choose to be happy; it’s about a decision you make and actions you take. For more happiness tips from the Life Coach Spotter, click here.

I encourage you to take some time to take care of yourself. By enhancing your own happiness, you’ll enjoy stronger personal relationships and greater professional success. And you’ll be, well, happier which is its own reward.

I’ll leave you with the following closing thoughts…

President Abraham Lincoln once said:

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Echoing that sentiment, Pastor Charles R. Swindoll has said:

Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”

Entertainer Groucho Marx has observed:

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

What is your favorite happiness quote or tip?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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6 Comments to “10 Ways To Be Happier Right Now”

  1. Hi, Michael,

    Great post. I’d like to share a related article with you and your readers:

    “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior”

    http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/10-012.pdf

    I hope you’re having a great summer.

    Amy

    • Amy, thank you for sharing the terrific article. I hope folks take the time to read it. Michael Norton, one of the folks I cite in my post, is the co-author of the Harvard working-paper you shared.

      My summer has been terrific so far. I hope you’re having a happy time, too!

  2. Here’s a good one to combine a lot of the above… play golf, late in the day, walk a bit, laugh a bit, do all of these things… life’s too short not to be happy!

    Cheers, Erica

    • Erica, thanks for sharing your suggestions. You’re right! Life is too short to not mindfully enjoy it. However, golf might not be the path of happiness for some; how do you manage to hit that tiny ball anyway? Now, hanging out at the clubhouse, that’s for me!

  3. My favorite is: “Life is too short to drink bad wine.”

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