Five Steps for Being Happier Today

Tip 1: Accept painful emotions.

Tal Ben-Shahar: The first thing to do to become happier, paradoxically, is to accept painful emotions, to accept them as a part of being alive. The paradox is that when we give ourselves the permission to be human, the permission to experience the full gamut of human emotion. We open ourselves up to positive emotions as well.

Tip 2: Stop texting while you're with your friends. 

Tal Ben-Shahar: A very good predictor of well-being is what psychologist Tim Kasser calls time affluence. Time affluence is the thing that we have time to sit down and chat with our friends while -- not while being on the phone at the same time or text messaging at the same time, being with that person.

Tip 3: Exercise!

Tal Ben-Shahar: Three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise, could be jogging or walking or aerobics or dancing, three times a week of 30 to 40 minutes of exercise is equivalent to some of our most powerful psychiatric drugs in dealing with depression or sadness or anxiety. 

Tip 4: Express your gratitude daily — in writing.

Tal Ben-Shahar: People who keep a gratitude journal, who each night before going to sleep write at least five things for which they are grateful, big things or little things, are happier, more optimistic, more successful, more likely to achieve their goals, physically healthier; it actually strengthens our immune system, and are more generous and benevolent toward others.

Tip 5: Simplify. 

Tal Ben-Shahar: Do less rather than more. The problem is that we try and cram more and more things into less and less time, and we pay a price. We pay a price in terms of the quality of the work that we do. We also pay a price in terms of the quality of relationships that we enjoy.

Recorded on: September 23, 2009

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