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Seven Ways To Get Happy

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by Shannon Meyerkort (subscribe)
Writer. Storyteller. Find out more at
Published January 5th 2013
Warning: Could Potentially Contain The Meaning of Life
Hands up who made some New Year's Resolutions this year?

Well I can't help you lose weight, get that boy you think is cute, or stop being late for everything. But I can offer you seven tips on how to get (and stay) happy.

Expand Your World
No one ever got happy from sitting alone in an empty room punching keys on a computer. Unless of course you are a writer, like me. For everyone else though, happiness comes from people (the right ones of course) and the affirmation they can give. If you are a new mum, maybe you need to find a group of like-minded mums to share your experiences with; if you have just moved to a new place then perhaps you should join the local tennis club or gym; if you are looking for a partner, considering joining a speed dating group.

Get off the internet and into the world, places to meet people include: cooking classes, courses run by TAFEs, book clubs, investment clubs or volunteer at a local charity. Better yet, buy a dog and take it for a walk. You'll be surprised by how many new people (and dogs) you meet.

(Disclaimer: don't just buy a dog because I told you to. And if you are going to buy a dog, make sure you get it from a RSPCA approved organisation).

Get Some Sun
This is all about moderation: if you stay all day in the sun (especially in Australia) you will end up looking like a cooked lobster and that doesn't make anyone happy (least of all the lobster). However, if you spend a short amount of time in the sun each day, your body will produce endorphins (the happy hormone) and there is also a link between sunshine and melatonin and serotonin, hormones that help us sleep. Who doesn't feel happy after a good night's sleep?

Here's a hint: don't wear your sunglasses otherwise your body doesn't realise it's in the sun and you don't get the full benefit.

Go on, smile!

Say Thankyou
The next time someone does something for you, whether it is open the door for you, hand you some change at the register or drive you somewhere on the bus, look them in the eye and say thank you. Watch the smile spread on their face, and I challenge you to not feel the smile forming on your own.

There you go, happy already. And if not, I'm sure they appreciate it.

Focus on What You Have
You may have heard of gratitude diaries: where you write down three things every day that you are grateful for. Every day. Three things. What would you write down for today? Can you limit yourself to three?

Can't think of anything? How about the fact that you can read this? That you are literate and educated? How about the fact that you have access to technology and electricity? How about the fact that you have the time to read this, and aren't out dodging bullets and fighting in a civil war. Just saying.

Get your gear off and SMILE

Random Acts of Kindness
If you can't make yourself happy, then why not make someone else happy. If you haven't seen the movie 'Pay It Forward', then put it on your to-do list, as the concept behind it is pretty astonishing and started a massive movement of doing something for someone who could never possibly hope to repay you.

Don't have a Cadillac to give to a stranger? Pay for an extra coffee when you are in the line and tell them to give it the person behind you. Drop by the elderly lady down the street and ask if she needs you to buy her groceries at the store? Only one space left in the car park - leave it for someone else. Buy a lottery ticket and leave it for the cleaner who empties your trash bins at work.

Learn About Yourself
Many people are unhappy because they are in jobs they do not like, are married to people they don't understand, or constantly find themselves repeating the same mistakes. Know thyself – figure out your strengths, your weaknesses. What do you need from your work? Do you seek money, status, recognition or the opportunity to learn? What do really want in a relationship?

Once you know what makes you tick, it is easier to make decisions based on what works for you and what doesn't.

Click here to take some online tests to measure your strengths, gratitude and work-life satisfaction.

Belly laugh

Eat Some Chocolate
It's true, chocolate make us happy. I bet you already knew that though. Technically it's the dark chocolate that is best for us, rich with antioxidants and brain-friendly because it boosts blood-flow to the brain, improving your concentration and mood. But I think if eating a box of Dairy Milk makes you happy, then that still counts.

Get Busy
Everyone knows that to stay physically active is a sure-fire way to stay healthy and happy. But happiness is more than just working out those cracking quads or rippling stomach muscles. The biggest organ that needs a workout (get your mind out of the gutter, that comes next) is your brain.

People who are busy and mentally active are happier than those who don't manage to achieve anything other than watching 12 episodes of the Simpsons in a day.

The more your brain works, the more dopamine is released, and dopamine is THE feel-good drug. All natural of course. Ways to get your brain working: enrol in a course, write a novel, do Sudoku on the train on the way to work, learn an instrument, start a hobby, try and read War and Peace.

Get Busy Getting' BUSY
Sex makes you happy. Well, orgasms make you happy; sex can sometimes be a bit confusing if you have it with the wrong person. Assuming of course you get that part right, then sex (and the dinner and movie and three hours of foreplay that precedes it) makes you happy in many ways.

It's a physical workout, it can be a mental workout. If you're into chocolate body paint then you score another point, ditto if you have sex out in the sunlight.

Why are you still here reading this? Go and have sex and be happy.

Don't pretend you're not smiling by now
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Why? because everyone’s Mum once looked at them as a baby and said ‘I just want you to be happy’
When: Now!
Where: Everywhere
Your Comment
Love it!
by Where I Holiday (score: 2|338) 2879 days ago
Great article! Simple but so true and a nice reminder (-:
by ali-f (score: 0|4) 2877 days ago
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