It’s official: Americans are unhappy.
According to the World Happiness Report, “The years since 2010 have not been good ones for happiness and well-being among Americans.” (1)
To make matters worse, the rates of self-harm and depression have jumped as well.
Why are so many Americans unhappy?
Researchers think that social media, obesity, and substance abuse are largely to blame.
At the same time, we’re spending less time socializing, less time sleeping, and less time reading books.
And the No.1 overall indicator of happiness?
Drum roll please…
Are you ready to make life-changing steps towards a happier life?
It’s time to turn America’s frown upside-down.
1. Social Connections Are The Elixir of Life
Meaningful relationships are one of the most effective tools in you happiness kit.
Consequently, the Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest-running study on happiness, and after tracking former Harvard students for 80+ years, here’s what they’ve discovered:
“Relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.” (2) (3)
Dr. Robert Waldinger, the project’s director, goes on to say that socializing is a natural mood booster that generates positive emotions.
To top it all off, social connections may even help you live longer…
Interestingly, Ikaria Island in Greece is a “Blue Zone,” meaning that it has one of the highest average lifespans in the world.
As such, residents regularly live to be 80+ years old.
Actually, one of their secrets is that “people of all ages are socially active and integrated into the community.” (4)
Socializing stimulates the mind and promotes feel-good endorphins.
Loneliness, on the other hand, increases stress and speeds brain degeneration.
If you want to live a long, happy life, you should put your friends and family first.
2. Embrace Positivity Like Your Life Depended On It
Positivity is powerful…so powerful, in fact, that it can:
Increase your connection to others
Reinforce healthy habits
Help you find greater meaning in what you do
Reduce stress and anxiety
Negativity can build a wall between your emotions and the people you love.
Plus, when you’re facing a stressful problem, negativity can consume you with anxiety.
However, there is hope…
According to strategic coach Dan Sullivan, “The problem is rarely the problem… rather our thinking around the problem is usually the problem.”
In other words, negative thinking is the real obstacle.
At the same time, anxiety can fog the brain, but once again positivity can come to the rescue…
For example, a 2016 study published in the journal Behavior and Research Therapy found that visualizing positive outcomes may reduce anxiety. (5)
On a similar note, being grateful for what you already have can be equally as powerful.
According to Tony Robbins, the most successful life coach of all time, “[When you] replace your expectations with appreciations, your entire life immediately changes.”
With that said, taking action is easier said than done.
Here are a few positivity exercises to get you out of the mud and into a positive state:
Meditate: meditation has a ton of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, losing weight, improving sleep, and reducing cortisol. It may also help treat ADHD, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. And last but not least, meditation may improve focus, memory, creativity, and communication skills. (6)
Keep a journal: keeping a gratitude journal only takes a few minutes every morning, but it can make a huge impact on happiness. Journaling primes the brain to think in terms of abundance and avoid thoughts like regret and jealousy.
Spot negative self-talk: negative self-talk can put a magnifying glass on our problems and make them feel bigger than they actually are. Pay close attention to your internal dialogue and stop the negative self-talk.
Positive affirmations: positive affirmations are like kryptonite for negative self-talk. Come up with positive phrases and use them as personal mantras throughout the day.
As powerful as these exercises can be, they can only take you so far on your path to happiness.
At a certain point, the brain might need a little extra help healing with natural medicine…
3. Fight Inflammation Until Your Dying Breath
You can embrace positivity until the cows come home, but if your brain is inflamed, your happiness may struggle.
That’s because chronic inflammation is at the root of health issues from heart disease to depression.
Luckily, by fighting inflammation with food, you can support mental health and happiness.
When the gut lining is damaged, inflammation can enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain.
From there, it can disrupt neurotransmitters that impact mood, like GABA, dopamine, and serotonin.
Speaking of serotonin, roughly 90 percent of it is made by healthy bacteria in the gut, and it communicates directly to the brain via the gut-brain axis. (7)
Anti-Happiness Foods To Avoid
Sugar is one of the worst foods for happiness because is fuels bad gut bacteria and promotes inflammation.
Plus, if you eat too much of it you can have a sugar crash.
Other inflammatory foods include:
Trans fats (fried fast food)
Gluten (bread, pasta)
Processed foods (chemical additives/preservatives)
Conventional meat (growth hormones/grain-fed)
By avoiding these foods, you can fight inflammation and reduce anxiety.
Pro-Happiness Foods To Stock Up On
Now that the harmful inflammatory foods are out of the way, it’s time to fuel up on the good stuff.
Here are some of the best foods for a happy brain:
Wild-caught salmon and sardines
Dense, leafy greens
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
Wild-caught salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids: some of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories there are. (8)
On a similar note, bone broth and grass-fed beef are packed with amino acids: nutrients that repair gut damage.
And finally, veggies like broccoli are the ideal fuel for healthy gut bacteria.
When you combine an inflammation-free brain and body with the joy of positivity and the love of friends and family, you’ve got a recipe for a happy life.
Feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers for more advice about how to be happier.
We’re excited to answer any questions you may have about the power of positivity.