A Healthier U


Imagine you just met someone who has never tasted the flavor of salt. How would you describe it? You may feel a little stumped then begin describing what it’s not; like sweet or sour.

Happiness seems to be much the same way. It’s a little difficult to describe or define but you know it when you get a taste of it and it’s good. Happiness has been a common subject of research as scientists have tried to answer questions like; what causes us to feel  happy? Or how does happiness effect our health?  As you may have guessed happiness seems to be good for our mental and physical well being.

A particular study found that people who reported higher levels of happiness more often had a normal blood pressure, a healthy weight, healthier blood lipid profiles and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. This may have to do with the fact that happy people tend to participate more often in healthy activities. Which begs the question what came first, the happy chicken or the healthy egg? Although some activities are the same for both categories with things like going outside and moving more or even getting a good nights sleep. There are some additional recommendations for happiness that may be a bit more novel and less obviously linked to physical well being.

What are the other things scientists have suggested to encourage happiness  and how much can they really help? Martin Seligman, a researcher of  positive psychology, believes that about 60 percent of happiness depends on genetics and our environment while the other 40 percent is entirely up to us. Being able to control 40 percent of your own happiness is nothing to sneeze at, especially when so many of the recommended activities are so easy to do, why not give a few of them a try? A word of caution: According to research, seeking out things that simply give you pleasure doesn’t seem to be good enough. Do things that help you dig a little deeper and discover a bit more meaning and purpose in your life and help you develop the habit of happiness.
Listed below are some ideas with suggestions that might make them easier to add to your day:

  • Smile when you mean it – Fake it till you make it may do more harm than good when it comes to happiness. Rather than pretending your in a good mood work on thinking of something to smile about then show of those pearly whites. Keeping a few photos, memes or videos on your phone that make you smile could do wonders.
  • Mindfulness – There are a lot of great apps like Headspace that you can download on your phone to help you meditate and become more mindful with just a few minutes each day. Make it part of your daily routine or use it as a new coping mechanism for stress.
  • Gratitude – Appreciate simple pleasures. A gratitude journal may be helpful and there are some specifically designed for this purpose like “The 5-minute Journal.” Find something that helps you create a meaningful aptitude towards gratitude or simply share daily highlights with your loved ones at the end of the day.
  • Devote some time to giving – And yes, this can mean money. Spending a little time or money on someone else for the simple sake of making them feel good seems to be connected to making us happy as well.
  • Music – Make a playlist that you love and use it for those low moments. Studies have shown music to be a powerful mood enhancer.
  • Unplug – Set aside a moment to turn off all electronics and be fully present with yourself or loved ones.
  • Good nights sleep – Turn off those screens 30 minutes before bed. Get a nice nighttime ritual down and stick to it. You don’t want to simply get enough sleep you want it to be quality sleep.
  • Laughter – It really is one of the best medicines. Good friends and those videos from before are helpful.
  • Make exercise a priority – Many studies have shown the power of exercise in reducing stress and improving mood.

If you ever wanted to speak with someone about your personal situation and some different ways of helping you implement practical ideas to help you feel happiness and fulfillment, you can sign up for a health coaching appointment through the WellU program.

Once you get a good taste of happiness you won’t be able to stop and your heart won’t either.


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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.