What’s the most important thing in life? Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not money, fame, or even power. It’s happiness. This is all you really need to enjoy a high quality of life - plain and simple. There are plenty of people around the world who live in third world countries, with nothing more than the shirt on their back. And yet, often these are the happiest people on Earth. This perfectly illustrates how you don’t need much to be happy. So what’s their secret? How can YOU boost your happiness to sky-high levels? Funnily enough, there are plenty of tips and tricks which have been PROVEN to work wonders…
Number One: Spend Money On Others
When many of us are sad, we often go out and buy things in an effort to cheer ourselves up. This could be as simple as a chocolate bar or as extravagant as a new sports car. But stunning new research has shown that if you really want to use money to increase your happiness, you need to spend it on OTHER people. A study from 2008 gave people envelopes full of money. Half were instructed to spend it on themselves, while the other half were instructed to donate the money to charity, or buy a gift for a friend. Those that spent money on others reported much higher levels of happiness…
Number Two: Listen To Sad Songs
When we’re feeling blue, many of us put in our headphones, zone out, and play our favorite music. But before you choose the happiest songs on your playlist, you might want to listen to this. A 2014 study found that those listening to SAD music actually received “beneficial emotional effects.” These effects included “regulation of negative emotion and mood.” In simpler terms, sad music helps you handle your bad moods. So if you really want to cheer yourself up, put on the saddest song you can find in your playlist!
Number Three: Drink Coffee
We’re guessing no one was expecting this one. There’s been a lot of talk about how coffee might be good or bad for you, but not many people are discussing its effect on mood. There have actually been a few studies which have looked into this, and the results are pretty stunning. One of the most interesting studies was published in 2016, and it found that one cup of coffee per day equated to an 8% decrease in risk for depression - up to a limit of 509 mg of caffeine per day. Why is coffee so good at fighting off depression? Researchers aren’t 100% sure, but they think it might have to something with the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories present in coffee, as well as its link to dopamine production.
Number Four: Meditation
Of all the things we’re listing here, meditation probably has the most conclusive science to back it up. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, long before the science of psychology even existed. People have been aware of its benefits for a very long time, and its ability to reduce stress is well-known. And yes, numerous scientific studies have been able to back this up, proving that there’s a link between meditation and reduced stress and anxiety. Examples include studies of people in high stress situations, such as nursing students or people who were dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Meditation worked wonders in almost all situations.
Number Five: Go For A Walk
Sometimes, the simplest methods are often the most effective. It seems like this is definitely the case when dealing with sadness, as research has shown that merely going for a walk can be a major gamechanger. There have been numerous studies on this subject. Some studies studied the positive effects of simply getting outside and experiencing nature - a walk in the forest, for example. Others found that walking in any situation increased happiness - simply because it involved exercise. But wherever you choose to stroll, going for a walk seems to be a really good idea to cheer yourself up.
Number Six: Get Your Feelings Off Your Chest
Keeping your emotions bottled up inside of you is never a good idea, and it definitely helps to get things off your chest. Have you ever felt that massive feeling of relief when you confess your fears and worries? It really does work wonders, and science seems to confirm this. One recent study looked at how recording a negative emotional experience can actually help calm our nerves, and help us deal with our worries. Those who were writing about their emotional experiences were much more calm and relaxed than those who were writing about other subjects.
As you can see, the cold and calculating laboratories of science can actually teach us a lot about how to warm up our hearts and cheer ourselves up. Who knows… Maybe you’ll find yourself using one of these methods one day.
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Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. "Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness." Science. March 21, 2008. Accessed September 13, 2018. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/319/5870/1687.
Schroder, Hans S., Tim P. Moran, and Jason S. Moser. "The Effect of Expressive Writing on the Error-related Negativity among Individuals with Chronic Worry." Psychophysiology55, no. 2 (2017). doi:10.1111/psyp.12990.
Taruffi, Liila, and Stefan Koelsch. "The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness: An Online Survey." PLOS ONE. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0110490.
"The Effectiveness of a Stress Coping Program Based on Mindfulness Meditation on the Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Experienced by Nursing Students in Korea." NeuroImage. January 13, 2009. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0260691708001792.
"Walking for Depression or Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." NeuroImage. April 04, 2012. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1755296612000099.
Wang, L., X. Shen, Y. Wu, and D. Zhang. "Coffee and Caffeine Consumption and Depression: A Meta-analysis of Observational Studies." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. March 2016. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26339067.
Dr. Deborah Serani is a psychologist and an award-winning author. She is a go-to media expert on psychological issues, with interviews in ABC News, The Associated Press, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Daily Beast, Newsday, The New York Times and radio station programs at CBS and NPR, just to name a few. She is a TEDx speaker, an American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Specialist, writes for Psychology Today, the Ask The Therapist column at Esperanza Magazine and has worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
A licensed psychologist over 25 years in New York, Dr. Serani is a professor at Adelphi University, teaching graduate courses in psychological diagnosis, psychodynamic treatment and multicultural diversity.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Deborah Serani and talking about her career and her field of study in general. We have the interview we did given below;
Q: What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
Ans: A long time ago, I struggled with depression and sought help. As I got better, I realized how meaningful psychotherapy was- and that I wanted to become a therapist myself. So, I headed to graduate school and got my doctorate in psychology.
Q: People are going to share their worldly problems with you, most of them irrelevant, confusing and out of standard conscious. Do you think you will be able to handle all of their transferable stress? If yes, then why do you think you're capable? Share a similar experience.
Ans: I don't find the issues patients share with me as irrelevant or confusing at all. Often, what a patient struggles with is quite relevant, important and powerful. It's a privilege to have the trust of another person - and that he or she trusts me. I have been trained as a psychoanalyst, so you train many years to learn how to balance personal feelings from interfering with psychotherapy.
Q: How will you help your patients to open up?
Ans: Setting up an environment where a person feels safe and comfortable helps a patient open up. This means making sure your office is quiet, warm and decorated nicely. This also means not interrupting sessions by taking phone calls or stopping the flow of psychotherapy with distractions. Another important thing is to be a good listener. Most people listen to respond, but a trained therapist listens to understand.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to people who want to pursue this career?
Ans: If you truly want to pursue being a psychologist, you should really be in your own psychotherapy first. In this way, you get to learn about yourself, as well as what the process is like as a "patient." Doing so prepares you to be a better clinician.
Q: How much indulged are you in physical activity? Any interesting hobbies such as sports?
Ans: I do yoga every other day and love to read, cook and travel. It's very important to have a rich and active life outside of doing psychotherapy.
Q: Do you plan on having any future publications, books?
Ans: I have a suspense thriller book in the works as well as a children's picture book about psychotherapy. I love to write and will likely always have something on the fire in that regard.
Q: What kind of challenges do you think lies in front of you in this career? Don't tell us the solutions in mind, just tell us what you expect.
Ans: 'I've been working almost 30 years as a clinician, so my biggest challenge will be how to slow my life down as near retirement!
Have you ever wondered if you're the friend that everyone gossips about? Maybe you've thought you were the "crazy" one in your group of friends.
Here's a list of signs you might be the toxic friend:
1. You can't stand being left out from anything.
Friends go to an event and don't invite you. You feel left out and enraged that they would betray you. This is a sign of insecurity and is off-putting to your friends.
2. You're constantly in contact with your friends, even when you know they're busy.
Tagging a friend in a meme and expecting an immediate response is not reasonable. Consistently texting your friends will also become an annoyance and makes you appear needy. Wait a few minutes, maybe even an hour, chances are they will respond to you.
3. You show up unannounced.
If you decide to stop by a friend's house without telling them it will result in surprise, and could be at a very bad time. Showing up at their work can be just as irritating, as they are on the clock and have to limit personal issues. A simple text that you want to say "hi" is sometimes all it takes.
4. You guilt-trip your friends into getting what you want.
Your friend says she can't hang out, so you tell her you'll just sit at home alone. Maybe you ask your friend to put in a good word for you, but they don't feel comfortable. These are signs you might be playing the friend card too much. Guilt-tripping is manipulation, and it's not a good quality of a healthy friendship.
5. You flake out on plans.
If your friend committed to spending time with you and you no-show or cancel last minute, that shows them that you don't value their time. It's also just a jerk move. Just be honest if you don't feel like going somewhere or can't fully commit to an event.
6. You can't commit to anything unless your friend proposes it first.
You want your friends to decide what to do and where to go, but don't want to put in any effort yourself to contribute. This adds pressure to your friend and gets old really fast. Make a suggestion or plan something every now and then. Your friends will totally appreciate it.
7. You play mind games with friends to test their loyalty to you.
Telling a friend something another person said about them, just to get them on your side, is very toxic. Also, saying if someone is truly your friend they won't spend time with a certain person, is just unfair. People have a right to choose who they spend time with, so try not to take it personal.
8. You only want to talk about yourself.
Sure you have a lot to say about yourself, but a conversation has to have two sides. Your friends want to talk about their life just as much as you do. Try to ask them about what's going on with them, just as often as you update them on your life.
9. You only want your friends to come to you.
Asking your friends to always come to your house can be a turn-off. A friendship is a bit of give and take, and sometimes you have to take one for the team and drive over to their house.
10. You expect your friends to always cover for you.
Whether it's a tab at the bar or a white lie you told someone, if you're always asking someone to cover for you they will feel that you're taking advantage of them. Take some responsibility and maybe cover them for a change.
Do you have any of these signs? If you do, the first thing you should do is to accept it and take action to change and be more self aware. Do not judge yourself, beat yourself up or be ashamed about who you are. Because you are worthy and you are capable of improving being a better version of yourself once you are more aware about your toxic tendencies and insecurities. Sometimes we can be the toxic person in a friendship without really knowing it, but knowing what you're doing wrong is the first step in making it right!