Happiness fact 59: happier, less heart disease

"Relationships have stronger associations with happiness than academic achievement, according to a recent study," PsyBlog reports.

"Whilst strong social relationships in childhood and adolescence were associated with happier adults, the associations with academic achievement were much lower." Looking for more evidence that happiness isn't down to fancy degrees.

The lead researcher behind one of the longest-running studies of human flourishing ever (the Grant Study that tracked 268 Harvard grads for more than 75 years), boiled down decades upon decades of data to this conclusion: "Happiness is love. Full stop."

Source: 3 New Scientific Findings About Happiness, Jessica Stillman, inc.com

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Happiness fact 58: stay away from fatty, salty food

Many studies concerning health have been conducted to understand the relationship between sleep, diet, exercise, and psychological well-being.
Most demonstrate that fatty foods often cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia. So, at home or in the restaurant, stay away from fat and salt: a little bit is fine, too much is really bad!

Sources:
Courneya, K. S. (2003). Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise Training in Postmenopausal Breast 

Cancer Survivors: Cardiopulmonary and Quality of Life Outcomes. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 21(9), 1660–1668. doi:10.1200/JCO.2003.04.093 Fox, K. (1999).

The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition 2(3a): 411-418. Fuligni, A. J., & Hardway, C. (2006).

Daily Variation in Adolescents’ Sleep, Activities, and Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16(3), 353–378. Hassmén, P., Koivula, N., & Uutela, A. (2000).

Physical Exercise and Psychological Well-Being: A Population Study in Finland.

Preventive Medicine, 30(1), 17–25. doi:10.1006/pmed.1999.0597 Smaldone, A., Honig, J. C., & Byrne, M. W. (2007).

Sleepless in America: Inadequate Sleep and Relationships to Health and Well-being of Our Nation’s Children. PEDIATRICS, 119(Supplement), S29–S37. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-2089F

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Happiness fact 57: the secret to a blissfull family?

Having two daughters leads to the most harmonious family life, according to a study by the popular U.K. parenting website Bounty.com.

The survey of more than 2,000 families with different combinations of siblings found two girls are most likely to be: well-behaved, play nicely together, easy to reason with, and rarely try to push each other's buttons.

But don't think that more girls means more giggles. "Au contraire: the study included an awesome list, ranking the "Best to Worst Combinations of Kids." Second was one girl and one boy. At the bottom: four daughters, the recipe for the least amount of familial peace.

Source: Study Finds Happiest Parents Have Four or More Kids, Leah Jessen / @_LeahKay_ / September 10, 2015

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Get your story published, receive a free copy of the 360 Living Guide


We’re creating a guide to help people live better lives, and we’re accepting submissions of short personal stories, relevant experiences, and life lessons to accompany the groundbreaking statistics that will be shared in this book, tentatively titled 360 Living.

As a gift of appreciation, we will also offer you an electronic copy of the book and life improvement exercises when released on Amazon.

Format
Write your story in any format, from a couple of paragraphs up to 2 pages describing the context, your story and how it impacted your life or the lives of others. Include your preferred form of recognition to be published in the acknowledgement section and next to your submission, if selected. We can publish full name, first name or an alias (your email will remain confidential in any case). Please note submissions may be modified for inclusion in the book, but you’ll have the ability to review all changes.

How to participate
Pick any of the 14 themes or prompts below (or choose another theme about living a good and happy life, and we’ll see if it can be included), then email your short personal story to explorelearngrow@gmail.com.We can publish with your full name, first name or an alias (your email will remain confidential in any cases).

Selection criteria
Submissions will be selected based on relevance, ability to draw in and engage the readers, and portrayal of valuable and/or actionable lessons. Your story doesn’t have to be jaw-dropping, it just needs to have a clear lesson and a connection to living a better life. Simplicity can be stunning when done right.
Everyone has important stories to tell, and I’m excited to hear yours and share it in this book!

14 themes to choose from...

1. Resolutions and commitment
Keeping or not keeping our annual or general resolutions, tips and tricks, lessons learned.

2. Nutrition Story about nutrition and weight loss
What worked, what did not, key take-aways, sharing life lessons.

3. Appreciation & gratitude
Personal experiences about how expressing gratitude changed our relationships and resulted in a better life.

4. Physical fitness
A personal transformation, story about goals, what works for you, favorite activities, how you incorporate fitness into life, general feelings about fitness, impact of fitness and activity on other areas of life (lack of sleep, stress level, energy level, physical appearance).

5. Lifelong learning and mastery
A story about developing new expertise, lifelong learning, retraining, re-skilling, taking on a new job, becoming an expert and enjoying it.

6. Cultural best practices and “bad habits”
Personal observations and lessons learned of the cultural differences related to happiness, how they affect us, how we cope with them - or not. Funny anecdotes and true stories.

7. Life vision
How do we hold to our life vision as child? What happens to it as we grow up? Do we invent a new vision, stick to the original one, find our true way later in life?

8. Giving time, money or resources to good causes
Exemplary behavior of donating either money or time, and the results it had on society, the local community, and even yourself.

9. Spending time on our passionsWhat are your true passions? How much time do you spend for it (every week in average)? Could it be more? Why not? What do you learn from your passions for the rest of your life? What impact does it have on your life?

10. Chasing dollars, an illusion of happiness through wealth
How does money influence your life, in a good way, or a bad way? Did your life suffer from the lack of resources? Did you find out that more money is not always more happiness?

11. Vacation and time off
How do you spend your time off? What effect does it have on your work or life? How many vacation days do you typically lose? What are the consequences? Were you able to change it? What have you learned from it?

12. Remarkable achievements and personal recognition
What makes you proud? Why? How hard was it to get there? What is your #1 recommendation to a 10-year old facing the challenges of building his/her own life?

13. Life-work balance
Do you spend way too much at work, or bring it home with you? How does it affect your life? What did/can you do about it (new job, lower your work time, new position)?

14. Stress
How do you cope with stress? Do you have a secret recipe you would like to share? How did you find the right balance in your life?

Happiness fact 56: happier, better health

In a 2008 study of nearly 10,000 Australians, participants who reported being happy and satisfied with life most or all of the time were about 1.5 times less likely to have long-term health conditions (like chronic pain and serious vision problems) two years later.

Source: Six Ways Happiness Is Good for Your Health By Kira M. Newman | July 28, 2015

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Happiness fact 55: 7 neurochemicals of happiness

THE 7 NEUROCHEMICALS OF HAPPINESS

1. Endocannabinoids: “The Bliss Molecule”Endocannabinoids are self-produced cannabis that work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from the Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well known endocannabinoid.

2. Dopamine: “The Reward Molecule”Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. Every type of reward seeking behavior that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal and achieve it.

3. Oxytocin: “The Bonding Molecule”Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding and increasing trust and loyalty. In some studies, high levels of oxytocin have been correlated with romantic attachment.

4. Endorphin: “The Pain-Killing Molecule”The name Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine." Endorphins resemble opiates in their chemical structure and have analgesic properties. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, sexual intercourse and orgasm. Make these pursuits a part of your regular life to keep the endorphins pumping.

5. GABA: “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule”GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. You can increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation or “The Relaxation Response.” Benzodiazepines (Such as Valium and Xanax) are sedatives that work as anti-anxiety medication by increasing GABA. These drugs have many side effects and risks of dependency but are still widely prescribed.

6. Serotonin: “The Confidence Molecule”Serotonin plays so many different roles in our bodies that it is really tough to tag it. For the sake of practical application I call it “The Confidence Molecule.” Ultimately the link between higher serotonin and a lack of rejection sensitivity allows people to put themselves in situations that will bolster self-esteem, increase feelings of worthiness and create a sense of belonging. To increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning and accomplishment.

7. Adrenaline: “The Energy Molecule”A surge of adrenaline makes you feel very alive. It can be an antidote for boredom, malaise and stagnation. Taking risks, and doing scary things that force you out of your comfort zone is key to maximimzing your human potential.

Source: Christopher Bergland, The Athlete's Way The Neurochemicals of Happiness, 7 brain molecules that make you feel great. Nov 29, 2012, Psychology Today 

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Happiness fact 54: small stress events act like a happiness vaccine

As parents know instinctively, some babies are just born happy. But neuroscientists have also learned over the past decade that the brain is highly plastic. It rewires itself in response to experience, and that's especially true before the age of puberty.

One might naively assume, therefore, that negative experiences might destroy a happy personality--and if they're extreme and frequent enough, that might be true. Davidson has learned, however, that mild to moderate doses of negative experience are beneficial. (In animal studies, he compared groups that had been moderately stressed when young to those that never were and found the former better able to recover from stress as adults.

In human studies, in which deliberately inducing stress on kids would be unethical, he based his conclusions on self-reported stories of stressful childhoods.) The reason, he believes, is that stressful events give us practice at bouncing back from unpleasant emotions. They're like an exercise to strengthen our happiness muscles or a vaccination against melancholy.

Source: Health: The Biology of Joy. Scientists know plenty about depression. Now they are starting to understand the roots of positive emotion by Michael D. Lemonick Sunday, Jan. 09, 2005 The Time

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Happiness fact 53: three happiness genes

In the latest study with a large-scale effort involving more than 298,000 people, experts discovered three genetic variants for happiness, in which two variants might account for differences in depressive symptoms.

The main areas in which the genetic variants for happiness are expressed include the central nervous system, the adrenal glands and pancreatic system.

Source: The 'Happiness' Gene Has Been Discovered: Study, by R. Siva Kumar (writer@newseveryday.com) - 26 Apr '16

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Happiness fact 52: close relationships result in a happier, healthier life

The researchers followed 724 men, conducting questionnaires every two years, interviews at different intervals and collecting health information every five years. They looked at everything from their personalities, to drinking habits, and even skull shape and size.

What did make all the difference were the men's relationships with others. "Our men found that good, close relationships predicted not only that they would stay happier, but that they would stay physically healthier,"

Source: CBS News May 27, 2016, 5:26 PM What makes a happy, healthy life?

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Happiness fact 51: happier = 22% less risk of heart disease

In a 2010 study, researchers invited nearly 2,000 Canadians into the lab to talk about their anger and stress at work. Observers rated them on a scale of one to five for the extent to which they expressed positive emotions like joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment.

Ten years later, the researchers checked in with the participants to see how they were doing—and it turned out that the happier ones were less likely to have developed coronary heart disease. In fact, for each one-point increase in positive emotions they had expressed, their heart disease risk was 22 percent lower.

What are you waiting for? Check your happiness score!

Source: Six Ways Happiness Is Good for Your Health By Kira M. Newman | July 28, 2015

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