Monday, January 07, 2008
Joy, How to Make it Last
just came across this interesting article on msn.com so thought would be nice of sharing this here. Hope would be kind of helpful =)
How we think and what we do can intensify, even prolong, the best moments in life. Here's how to tune in to the small stuff and reap huge rewards!
By Siri Carpenter, Prevention
Here are 10 surefire strategies that everyone can use to discover pleasure and satisfaction in everyday moments:
1. Share positive feelings
Let your children know how great it feels to spend time with them. Tell your spouse about the compliment your boss paid you. E-mail your best friend to tell her how fondly you remember the camping trip you took last year, and include a silly picture. Sharing happy memories and experiences with others—or even simply anticipating doing so—is one of the most powerful and effective ways to prolong and magnify joy. It helps sustain emotions that would otherwise fade and affirming connections with others is "the glue that holds people together."
2. Build memories
Take mental photographs of memorable moments that you can draw on later. Recall vivid, specific events, and pinpoint what brought you joy. Do you love your red wool scarf because it's stylish and warm, or because its smell reminds you of your childhood romps in the snow? Just be careful not to overanalyze and lose the wonder of the moment. What you want, is to dissect your experiences just enough to appreciate how they've helped form you and then get back to simply living them. Interjecting mystery into happy moments—reflecting on what's surprising or hard to understand about them, for example—can strengthen their power. If you analyze special times in a way that makes them seem ordinary or predictable, then you don't necessarily get as much benefit.
3. Congratulate yourself
Take pride in a hard won accomplishment. If you spent a year sweating at the gym to reach a fitness goal, bask in your success—and share it with others. Self-congratulation doesn't come easily to everyone. A lot of people have trouble basking in an accomplishment because they feel that they shouldn't toot their own horns or rest on their laurels. It's a fine line between joyous self-congratulation and shameless self-promotion, but don't worry: You'll know if you're crossing it.
4. Fine tune your senses
Close your eyes while you roll a square of dark chocolate over your tongue or fill your lungs with salty sea air or eavesdrop on your grandchildren's play and laughter. Shutting out some sensory stimuli while concentrating on others can heighten your enjoyment of positive experiences—particularly those that are short-lived.
5. Compare downward
Comparing upward makes us feel deprived, but comparing downward can heighten enjoyment. Think about how things could be worse—or how things used to be worse. Just keep it light—you don't have to relive your cancer diagnosis or revel in a neighbor's misfortune. Simply take note: Is today sunnier than promised? Are you fitter than you were a year ago?
6. Get absorbed
Some joyful moments seem to call for conscious reflection and dissection. At other times, we savor best when we simply immerse ourselves in the present moment, without deliberate analysis or judgment. Listen to your favorite music with headphones in a dark room. Lose yourself in a novel. Set aside enough time on the weekend for your favorite hobby so you can attain a level of absorption known as the "flow" state.
7. Fake it till you make it
Putting on a happy face—even if you don't feel like it—actually induces greater happiness. So be exuberant. Don't just eat the best peach of the season—luxuriate in every lip smacking mouthful. Laugh aloud at the movies. Smile at yourself in the mirror. After all, a surefire way to kill joy is to suppress it.
8. Seize the moment
Some positive events come and go quickly—a surprise toast to your accomplishments at work, your daughter's sweet 16 party. It seems obvious that the more quickly a positive experience evaporates, the more difficult it is to savor. Yet paradoxically, Bryant has found, reminding ourselves that time is fleeting and joy transitory prompts us to seize positive moments while they last.
9. Avoid killjoy thinking
The world has enough pessimists. Short circuit negative thoughts that can only dampen enjoyment, such as self recriminations or worries about others' perceptions. When you find yourself awash in happiness, give it space to grow—don't ruminate about why you don't deserve this good thing, what could go wrong, how things could be better. Consciously make the decision to embrace joy.
10. Say thank you
Cultivate an "attitude of gratitude,". Pinpoint what you're happy about—a party invitation, a patch of shade—and acknowledge its source. It's not always necessary to outwardly express gratitude, Bryant notes, but saying "thank you" to a friend, a stranger, or the universe deepens our happiness by making us more aware of it.