Increase Your Happiness

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I am in need of advice! I am a single gay man who recently turned 40. I am dealing with a major case of low self-esteem & depression due to my life circumstances.  I try to be an up beat & positive person but every day it’s getting harder & harder. Feelings of loneliness & inadequacy rear their ugly head all the time. I am at the end of my wits, at the risk of sounding whiney. Any advice you could give would be helpful! Thanks!

ANSWER

I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling depressed. If it’s truly situational, I’ve got news for you: You can’t wait for life to be perfect to fix it. Too many people make that mistake. Decide today, right now, that despite your life’s circumstances, you’re going to take action to begin feeling better.

About 50% of us are born with a predisposition for happiness. The other 50% are capable of increasing their happiness significantly by re-training their brains to do what happy people naturally do. Below are some of my favorite tools for increasing happiness. Try them for 30 days and see if using them makes a difference. You can do a test on day 1 (which should be today) to measure your happiness and a second test on day 30 to measure it again and see if it’s been effective.  Go to AuthenticHappiness.org and take the Authentic Happiness Inventory. Good luck!

Cardio: Research shows that doing cardio for at least 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week, is as effective as the most effective antidepressant. Get on a treadmill today and make sure that your heart rate is within your cardio range by clicking here:

Meditation: There is no better workout for the brain than meditation. Lucky for you, Oprah & Deepak Chopra are offering a free 21 day program which will take only minutes a day. Sign up for it here and begin meditating TODAY by clicking here.

Gratitude: People who report feeling depressed or sad tend to focus on what’s wrong with their lives rather than what’s right. From today forward, begin keeping a gratitude journal and write down a minimum of 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Don’t look for amazing things ~ look for small things. Example:

Today I’m grateful for:

The delicious lunch I had.

My ability to buy and feed myself healthy food.

The sunny weather.

Random Acts of Kindness: Believe it or not, nothing makes us feel better than helping others out. I am literally obsessed with committing random acts of kindness. It’s easy when you live in NYC. Just about any time you’re in the subway, you’ll find a woman with a stroller who needs help carrying it up the stairs, or an elderly person standing on the train who would be grateful for your seat. You can start by appreciating those people who are usually underappreciated, like the local cashier, the customer service rep on the phone, your waiter, etc. Start every interaction by saying, “How’s your day going?” You’ll be amazed at how good that unexpected question makes people feel. Commit random acts of kindness every day for the next 30.