Each of us has a set of behaviors the underpinnings of our unique personality. However, oftentimes we repeat established habits that may undermine our capacity to live a satisfying and healthy life. The United Kingdom’s Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, surveyed 5,000 men and women, asking each to rate themselves between 1 and 10 on ten habits identified from the latest scientific research as being key to happiness. “Giving” was the top habit revealed by those who took the survey. When asked about “Giving” (How often do you make an effort to help or be kind to others?) people scored an average of 7.41 out of 10, with one in six (17%) topping 10 out of 10. Just over one in three (36%) people scored 8 or 9; slightly fewer (32%) scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less. The “Relating” habit came a close second. The question “How often do you put effort into the relationships that matter most to you?” produced an average score of 7.36 out of 10. And 15% of people scored the maximum 10 out of 10. The survey also revealed which habits are most closely related to people’s overall satisfaction with life. All 10 habits were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction, with “Acceptance” found to be the habit that predicts it most strongly. Yet “Acceptance” was also revealed as the habit that people tend to practice the least, generating the lowest average score from the 5,000 respondents. Treating our bodies to regular physical activity is another proven happy habit. Yet the survey revealed that this is another habit that often gets overlooked. The average answer to “How often do you spend at least half an hour a day being active?” was just 5.88 out of 10, with 45% of people rating themselves 5 or less. Do Something Different and Action for Happiness have also created a new Do Happiness program encouraging three positive actions that people can take to increase their levels of self-acceptance, namely: (1) Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small; (2) Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you; (3) Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you’re feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.
Fletcher B and Pine K. FLEX – Do Something Different, March 2014.
What are the three positive actions that not only may improve overall satisfaction with life, but coincidentally may promote a healthy life?
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Moderate exercise helps to regenerate muscle mass, in a lab animal model.
In the two hours following an angry outburst, a person’s risk of heart attack rises fivefold.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis may be alleviated by daily supplementation of a Lactobacillus strain of probiotic.
Blood test may predict with greater than 90% accuracy if a healthy person will develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease within three years.
Increased consumption of salmon, tuna, and sardines may raise the number of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – “good cholesterol.”
Custom-designed nanoparticles carry chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells and release their cargo when triggered by laser.
Large-scale meta-analysis reports that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) helps to reduce high blood pressure.
Stethoscopes may harbor substantial levels of bacterial agents – including antibiotic-resistant strains.
Chronic stress may cause physiological changes to the brain that may make people prone to anxiety and mood disorders, later in life.
Differing in specific brain structures, men and women may experience different neurological and psychological conditions.
Mindfulness meditation may be useful to combat anxiety and depression, and to help manage pain.
Higher anxiety symptom levels associate with increased risk for incident stroke.
Six months of a music-based multitasking training regimen exerts beneficial effects on thinking, memory, mood, and anxiety.
Regular, varied, and demanding cognitive activities are vital for staying mentally sharp in later years.
Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, tend to be more stable in people with positive personalities.
Mental conditions, substance abuse, and musculoskeletal disorders cause more disability than cancers.
Enabling city dwellers to reconnect with nature, parks and urban gardens help to relieve mental distress and improve life satisfaction.
Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD.