Get Your Happiness On

Whole Living (the website associated with Body + Soul magazine) recently published a list of 9 Ways to be Happier. Who couldn't use a little more happiness? What a fun, inspiring list! (My comments are italicized.)

1. Learn to give.
Research has revealed a surprising fact about what we get in return when we give. In what can only be considered a blissful karmic payoff, it's more often the giver -- not the receiver -- who reaps the biggest paycheck.

If, like me, your paycheck doesn't leave you with a l
ot of extra dough for philanthropy, consider dedicating a few hours each week to volunteer work. Check out Idealist to find volunteer opportunities in your area.

2. Eat more avocados.
Stress depletes vitamin B6, which helps produce serotonin. Help sooth those stressed-out nerves by eating avocadoes and other B6-rich foods like fortified whole grain cereals, salmon, and chicken breast.

Guacomole is an easy and delicious way to add more avocado to your diet. Just mash up some ripe avocados with salt, a bit of chopped cilantro, some jalepenos, and a squirt of lime juice. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips, or spread on some whole-grain bread with swiss cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes for a yummy veggie sandwich.

3. Fix your career.
"Unhappy at work? Find out whether or not a quick fix -- like decorating your office -- will do, or if a career change is in order."

Easier said than done, right? Seriously though, if your job is making you miserable, it might be time to re-evaluate.

4. Do more yoga.
After an hour-long yoga session, members of a small study from the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed a huge hurge in brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter often found at low levels in people with depression.

I truly cannot say enough good things about yoga. Its benefits are too numerous to list. I dare you to try it and see the difference it can make in your life.

5. Spritz with essential oils.
Extracted from leaves, fruit peels, petals, and other plant parts, essential oils capture nature's subtle fragrances and can even balance your mood, aromatherapists say.

For sweet and restful sleep, try some lavender mist on your pillow at bedtime.

6. Stock up on strawberries.
Vitamin C-rich strawberries boost your immune system and fight brain cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol (a stress hormone). But foods like guava, bell peppers, and oranges also do the trick.

Try slicing fresh, organic strawberries onto your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Yum!

7. Learn to quickly rejuvenate.
In the rush of everyday life, you'll often find yourself racing from one event to the other, with almost no time in between. What can you do to refresh and rejuvenate in just 20 minutes? This quick routine can help you hit the reset button on body, mind, and spirit.

8. Practice mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness (referred to as smrti in Buddhism) leads to concentration (samadhi), which in turn leads to insight (prajna). the insigh you gain from meditation can liberate you from fear, anxiety, and anger -- allowing you to be truly happy.

To get started with meditation, check out the teachings of the endlessly wise and down-to-earth Pema Chodron, a leading proponent of Tibetan Buddhism meditation techniques.

9. Add chickpeas to your diet.
Chickpeas contain folate (folic acid), which helps make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. Other folate-friendly foods include lentils, black-eyed peas, and soybeans.

My favorite way to eat chickpeas is to make hummus, which serves as a great dip for veggies or as a spread for sandwiches. I like this recipe from Epicurious.

What suggestions would you add to the list?

Photo by JIGGS IMAGES via Flickr.

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