1. be more active and keep busy. get involved in activities that are:
- enjoyable (sort of obvious, but when fordyce study participants thought about activities they enjoyed, as opposed to those they didn't enjoy, they learnt something new about themselves)
- exciting and physically active rather than sedate and tranquil. (but there's a place for both)
- new and unfamiliar
- social rather than solitary
- meaningful, not trivial
2. spend more time socialising.
formal clubs and organisations and informal relationships (family, friends, spouse) contribute strong feelings of satisfaction, support and a sense of belonging.
3. be more productive at meaningful work.
choose careers wisely, persevere towards commitments and goals and try to find meaning in work or voluntary activities.
4. get organised.
crack procrastination and take some lessons from the time management books to help work towards and refine goals.
5. stop worrying.
list your worries daily for a few weeks to observe your worry patterns: most don't come true and many are beyond your control anyway. learn to distinguish between worry and planning and see the planning ease the worry.
6. lower expectations and aspirations.
"how pleased we are with life is not merely determined by what happens to us," says fordyce. "it is also determined by what we expect to happen to us."
- don't tempt disappointment: cultivate a modest expectation of daily life.
- recognise that "success" may not be as key to your happiness as you've been led to believe.
- don't wait to be happy - it's a way to travel, not a place to arrive, the present, not the unknown future, matters most.
- select life goals that are within your ability to attain.
7. think positively and be optimistic.
it's not what you have, it's how you look at it. take a real situation (you didn't get the house you wanted to rent/ you missed the train) and see it in its most positive and and most negative light, and you'll get the picture. ultimately, says fordyce, it's about believing you can be happy no matter what.
8. be present-orientated.
there's more happiness in the "here and now" than the "there and then". savour the moment and keenly appreciate the pleasures of life.
9. work on a healthy personality. to get going in the right direction, try to:
- like yourself - analyse your views about yourself and how these affect your happiness.
- accept yourself, shortcomings and all.
- know yourself: you need insight and understanding to make good decisions about what to do.
- help yourself: cultivate self-sufficiency and being "inner" rather than "outer" directed.
10. develop an outgoing social personality.
you'll likely expand your social life with small changes such as smiling more, acknowledging others and initiating conversations.
11. be yourself.
get comfortable expressing yourself honestly and you are more likely to find others who like you "just the way you are".
12. eliminate negative feelings and problems.
seek help with problems such as addiction or depression. it's hard to work on happiness if your unhappiness is too encumbering.
13. close relationships are no. 1
healthy, loving relationships are critically important, whether with family, friends or a romantic partner.
14. value happiness.
fordyce says people who regard happiness as important are - quite simply - happier.
- healthsmart magazine of reader's digest