Pursuit of Happiness Lowest Happiness Level Since 1972

Guest blog by Laura Berman Fortgang

A new study by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center has just released information that 14 percent of Americans are “not too happy,” the highest percentage since 1972. Whether it’s marital problems, the down economy or the persistent blues, there are easy ways to increase your happiness level.  Happiness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so it’s hard to figure out the cause of so much unhappiness. There are many external factors to point to in today’s landscape, however, a few time-honored steps you can take to improve your general mental and physical well-being, making it that much easier to achieve your happiness:

Let the light shine in

Since the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D can cause winter blues, the addition of light boxes and illumination bulbs in your home can help simulate spring and summer sunshine.

Stay Mobile, Get the Blood Pumping

Joining a gym during the winter can be very beneficial, as exercise will balance the brain chemistry and is especially important this time of year. However, if you don’t have the funding available, simple stretches and breathing exercises can be done right at home to get the blood pumping. If it’s not too bitterly cold outside, bundle up and take a brisk 30-minute walk as you marvel at the winter wonderland around you.

Keep Stress in Check

If you are facing unemployment or job instability, try not to take that stress out on your family. Have 'venting' time and supportive folks to include in your current challenges, but keep stress at a minimum by keeping it in check.

It's important to separate your work and home life in order to manage stress levels. Make sure you separate the two to avoid immediate and future negative results.

Find Meaning in the Small Things

Remember to appreciate all you do have. Focus on the good relationships in your life and the activities you enjoy. Do small kindnesses for others and watch your happiness factor rise.

Take a Mental Inventory at the End of the Day

Basically, give yourself a mini “pat on the back” at the end of the day. It will help you focus on all the positive things you did throughout the day, and to avoid dwelling on anything negative.