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Achieving Happiness






Embrace a life filled with more joy because you truly deserve it.Crafted by Michelle Darrisaw and Arielle Tschinkel Wondering about your own happiness seems like a straightforward query.

Yet, delving deep into evaluating your happiness levels might reveal an imbalance, leading to the question: how can one rectify this?


Happiness, in essence, varies significantly from one individual to another.


A Gallup poll from 2022 indicates only 38% of Americans feel content with their everyday lives. Furthermore, the General Social Survey highlights a phenomenon known as "happiness inequality" in the US, signifying variances in joy across different races, economic statuses, and genders.


While the pursuit of positivity is common, many are unsure about the steps to infuse more happiness into their existence, moving past the negative thoughts and concerns about life’s direction. It's a misconception that happiness equates to a flawless daily experience. In reality, happiness often resides in the small, perhaps unexpected moments, like a leisurely stroll with a loved one or finally starting that book you’ve been eager to read.


Explore these scientifically endorsed and expert-vetted strategies for enhancing happiness, discovering that fulfillment hinges more on the subtle, joyful moments encountered along your journey.


Establish Boundaries.


Prioritizing self-care as a cornerstone of happiness necessitates the courage to decline requests. "Maintain strict boundaries," recommends Virginia Williamson, a marriage and family therapist in Connecticut. Overcommitting, whether in personal or professional spheres, can lead to feelings of exploitation, exhaustion, or resentment. Setting and adhering to limits fosters healthier relationships, thereby enriching life’s quality.


What techniques can assist in mastering the art of refusal for happiness? Psychotherapist Laura Leinwand suggests, rather than outright refusal, proposing a timeline—allowing for a comfortable decision-making process that respects your relationships.


Though initially appearing self-centered, Leinwand clarifies that setting clear boundaries provides others with definitive expectations of you.


Embrace Aromatherapy for Self-Care.


The soothing properties of essential oils, such as lavender and peppermint, are undeniable, offering stress relief and mental clarity.


“Aromatherapy serves as a fantastic mood enhancer during downtimes,” states Cara Kovacs, a Reiki Master healer and relationship coach. Citrus scents invigorate, lavender and ylang-ylang calm, and warmer notes like vanilla or clove create a sense of security.


Kovacs recommends keeping essential oils close at hand, either at your desk or in your bag. Initiating with a few drops on your palms, rub them together, and gently inhale for a moment of calm and elevation. This act of pausing to enjoy the moment significantly contributes to a lighter, happier state of mind.


Adopt Affirmations to Counter Negative Feelings.


Affirmations, as Shawngela Pierce, an author and naturopathic medicine researcher, explains, are assertions believed to be true. The impact of affirmations on happiness has been validated by brain activity studies, showing enhanced self-worth and value regions in those practicing self-affirmation.


Incorporate daily affirmations by crafting five positive statements about yourself, beginning with “I am.” Examples include “I am living my best life,” “I am loved,” and “I am healthy.” Voicing these affirmations morning and night can elevate self-esteem and foster more positive thought patterns.


Introduce Nature into Your Living Space.


Revitalizing your home with natural elements like plants, wood, soy candles, or nature-themed wallpapers can be a key to improved well-being and joy. Organizing and decluttering also refreshes your space’s energy.


Consider the impact of colors on mood, with hues like yellow, sky blue, violet, green, and sage known for their uplifting effects. “Our surroundings influence our emotional state,” asserts holistic interior designer Nora Bouz. Mindful home organization supports healthy habits and enhances happiness. Studies have shown that nature, or elements that mimic it, can reduce stress and foster positivity.


To begin, Bouz highlights that certain houseplants, such as peace lilies and areca palms, can purify air, as noted in the NASA Clean Air Study. For those less inclined towards gardening, textiles and wallpapers featuring botanical designs can simulate a natural ambiance. Additionally, maintaining clean windows for sunlight penetration and utilizing daylight bulbs in darker areas can mimic natural light, further enhancing your home’s mood. Soundscapes featuring nature sounds also invite the outdoors in, augmenting your living space’s serene ambiance.


Or Simply Step Outside.


Kristin Koskinen, a registered dietitian and performance nutritionist, poses the question, “Have you noticed a boost in mood when outdoors?” The production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing neurohormone, is facilitated by sunlight exposure, aiding in sleep cycle regulation.


Furthermore, Koskinen advocates for the inclusion of vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, such as fish, yogurt, eggs, and fortified orange juice, linking adequate levels of the "sunshine vitamin" to reduced feelings of depression and overall emotional well-being. Establishing a routine that allows for regular, safe exposure to sunlight, particularly in climates with longer daylight hours, is essential for maintaining a balanced mood. Remember, sunscreen is your ally in this endeavor, protecting your skin while you absorb the benefits of the sun.



Incorporating these elements into your lifestyle—setting boundaries, embracing aromatherapy, practicing affirmations, connecting with nature, and soaking up sunlight—can significantly enhance your journey towards happiness. It's about finding balance and joy in the small, everyday moments, and recognizing that happiness is not a constant state, but a series of fleeting, beautiful experiences that enrich our lives.



By adopting these strategies, you're not just aiming for fleeting moments of joy but cultivating a sustainable, contented state of being. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. It's about making the most of now, appreciating the beauty in the ordinary, and understanding that each step, no matter how small, is a step towards a happier you. Let your journey be filled with discovery, growth, and, most importantly, moments of pure, unadulterated joy. Don't wait for happiness to find you; seek it out in every day, in every moment, and in every breath you take.


Now for a perfect recipe based on increasing serotonin levels with helping your gut…


 

Salmon and Sweet Potato Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets (rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health and mood)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (high in fiber for gut health and tryptophan for serotonin)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (a great source of protein and fiber for gut health)

  • 1 avocado, sliced (healthy fats for gut health and mood)

  • 1 cup spinach leaves (magnesium and folate contribute to serotonin production and gut health)

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (antioxidants for overall health)

  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut (probiotics for gut health)

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional, for extra fiber and minerals)

  • Fresh lemon wedges (vitamin C supports gut health and mood)

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (probiotic properties support gut health)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

  • Salt and pepper to taste



Preparing the Ingredients:

  • Preheat Oven: Begin by heating your oven to 400°F (200°C) to ensure it's ready for roasting the sweet potatoes.

  • Prepare Sweet Potatoes: Peel and cube 2 medium sweet potatoes. Toss these cubes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper for seasoning.

  • Season Salmon: Lightly season 2 salmon fillets with salt and pepper to enhance their natural flavors.

Cooking:

  • Roast Sweet Potatoes: Spread the seasoned sweet potato cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until they are tender and have a slight caramelization.

  • Cook Salmon: While sweet potatoes are roasting, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon fillets, skin-side down, and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. The salmon is ready when it's opaque throughout and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat.

  • Prepare Quinoa: Ensure 1 cup of quinoa is cooked according to package instructions and set aside.

Assembling the Bowl:

  • Base Layer: Divide the cooked quinoa between two bowls, creating a nutritious and filling base.

  • Add Vegetables: Arrange roasted sweet potatoes, sliced avocado, fresh spinach leaves, and cherry tomatoes around the quinoa in each bowl.

  • Include Sauerkraut: Add a portion of sauerkraut to each bowl for a probiotic boost.

  • Add Cooked Salmon: Flake the cooked salmon and place it atop the arrangement in each bowl.

Dressing:

  • Whisk Dressing: In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of honey (or maple syrup). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Final Touches: Drizzle the dressing over each bowl. For an extra touch of flavor and nutrition, sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Serving:

  • Serve with Lemon: Provide fresh lemon wedges alongside each bowl. A squeeze of lemon not only adds a burst of flavor but also enhances the absorption of iron from the spinach.

  • Enjoy: Your Salmon and Sweet Potato Bowls are now ready to enjoy! This meal is not only a feast for the eyes but also packed with mood-boosting and gut-friendly nutrients.

As ALways..

Be Kind, DO Fearless


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