Reduce your Stress and Be Happier in 3 easy steps
Reduce your Stress and Be Happier in 3 easy steps
Overall happiness and well being is made up of a variety of components from good work to financial satisfaction to having time to do what you love. One simple way to increase your level of feeling good, healthy, and having overall joie de vivre is to focus on the people you hang out with and what you do together.
#1 Hangout with People who are Happy
What more could you want than to reduce your stress and feel happy. The easiest way is hangout with happy people. The more you hangout with people who are happy your chances of feeling good increases 15%. “People are embedded in social networks and the health and well being of one person affects the health and well being of others,” stated Nicholas Christakis in a 2008 Harvard study.
Combining our need for social interaction with our need for social well-being is a great step in increasing your joy in life. Of course, those relationships also need to be health, supportive, and make you feel good. Take happiness a step further to overall health and longevity, Rath and Harter, in their book Well Being, discuss the risk of dying from heart disease or getting sick is twice as likely for people who have few close relationships. Close relationships affect our health and well-being and even more so if they are in close proximity.
Work Relationships Count a Great Deal
Studies show that people who have a best friend at work are happier. Make friends (if you don’t already have some at work) with whom you can share, talk, laugh, and chat over lunch. If you work alone, make sure you talk to others (as well as social network) throughout the day. Call someone for a coffee chat and up your level of happiness for the day.
In reflecting back over my career, there was a direct correlation between being happy at work and working with not only great people, but a good friend as well. Given this is not always possible, look to build deeper relationships at work with people you enjoy being around and make you feel good.
For many people work is often isolating and doesn’t provide for watercooler chat. As a result it is even more important to find ways to increase socializing into your work day. Some recent data from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being study showed that to have a great day we need six hours of social time. Therefore, it is not just who we are around, but how much we are socializing.
Finding Ways to Schedule Socializing into your work day
- Leave time before and after conference calls with people you like at work to share stories, joke, catch-up on life.
- Email stories, articles, blogpostings, jokes to your work-friends and ask for their comments and thoughts.
- Ask a work-friend to go to lunch once a week – away from the desk.
- Ask a work-friend to go for a walk, to the gym, or a dance class during lunch
- Call a work-friend and just say “Good Morning.”
If you have almost no social time in any given day, you have an equal chance of a good or a bad day. Each hour of social time decreases the chance of having a bad day. This may seem like a lot of time, but people studied who have thriving wellbeing average about 6 hours a day of social time- on the phone, in person, home, work, e-mail count.
#2 Have more than one friend
We all want a BFF (Best Friend Forever), but the research shows get 3 or 4. Those with 3 or 4 close friends are healthier and happier. Oh and make sure they are happy! Each happy friend, Harvard reports increases your happiness by 9%. Your mom or dad, spouse, family member, and close work mates, professional colleagues, and friends all count.
The key is that each friend usually provides you with something different in the relationship. One friend might be your fashion conscious, another, your exercise pal, a sounding board, and a shoulder to cry on and laugh with. See each friend as uniquely contributing to your happiness and well being.
#3 Hangout with people who support the life you want to live
There is a strong link between the people you hangout with and healthy behaviors.
Peer pressure (conscious and unconscious) is derived from those you hangout with.
If you want to get fit and exercise more, find a workout buddy. Someone that will urge you to stick with it, check in with you, and pull you out of bed when you want to sleep in. Entire professions such as Personal Trainers have been built based on the premise that if you do something with someone else you will tend to stick to it longer and do it more often.
On the flipside, have you ever noticed that when you see a heavy or obese person you see a few together. If you want to get fat, hang out with fat people. One study says that if a friend becomes obese you have a 57% chance of becoming obese. Family member influence is slightly lower at 40% for siblings and 37% for spouses. If your best friend (or one of them) is active, it triples your chances of engaging in physical activity. Eating healthy is even higher in that hanging out with healthy eaters increases your chances by 5 times. Bottom line, find a friend, recruit a friend, be the friend to someone else in living a healthy lifestyle.
Do something with a friend and get two benefits in one
Take it a step further and combine the time you spend together with activities you are interested in. For men this has always been natural (they tend to meet over activities vs. coffee). Go dancing together, take a hike and catch-up on the latest news, see a movie together, or support each other in beginning golf lessons. Combining friendship with activities you want to engage in increases your well being overall and is a terrific way to gain more from your time together.
Letting go of friends who don’t make you happy or feel good
The flipside is that it is also important to let go or minimize contact with people who are consistently less than supportive, unhappy, or not living the healthy joyful lifestyle you want for yourself. Sure, everyone has bad days and even bad years, but if their attitude, demeanor, and behaviors lower your own level of happiness, take a hard look and make some decisions on minimizing contact or letting go of the relationship altogether.
Remember the research shows that your level of happiness and well being is directly correlated to how happy people are in your network.