5 Ways to Live Happier (or Coping with Crappy Days)

Science shows how to handle things when everything seems out of control

September 20, 2018
5 Ways to Live Happier (Especially on Stressful Days)

It started as Jim and I talked about the shooting at a Middleton business on Wednesday. Then we mentioned the continuing flooding and recovery efforts we are supporting, along with the deadly explosion in Sun Prairie and our involvement in #SunPrairieStrong.

We're trying, probably just like you.

But is there another way to stay positive, and even happy about things, when everything seems to be out of your control?

I found it, half-way through our show.

There are five general ideas to cope with the crap, and each one is backed by science:

First, develop good coping skills. People who find healthy ways to deal with stress tend to live longer than people who get angry, or use food and alcohol to cope. Things like exercise, and having a sense of humor about life may work better in the long run. Seems pretty straight-forward to me.

Second, learn to use your "generativity," which means giving back to your community. People who help guide younger generations tend to be happier as they age, partly because it adds purpose. One study finds people who fit into that category are at least three times more likely to be happy after the age of 50. Ok, let's keep trying to make a difference!

Third, never stop learning. Continuing to educate yourself will make you happy, and even proud of the new tasks you are mastering. And research shows another part to this -- people who are active learners, are also more likely to adopt healthier habits as they get older. So, bring on some new challenges! I've always wanted to learn guitar. 

Fourth, maintain your friendships, and try to be a GOOD friend, too. Staying social can extend your life. But many studies show, just hanging out, isn't always enough (no matter what your age)! You also need to HELP your friends and family when they're in need, and be willing to lean on them when YOU need help. The second part is easier said, than done. But I'm willing to try.

Fifth, don't smoke, and don't drink too much. One study found heavy smoking can be the #1 predictor of early death. So if you smoke, it may be time to quit. But the good news is if you stop by age 45, the effects from smoking can go away by the time you hit your mid-70's. The smoking part doesn't bother me. I'm just relieved to see the research indicates don't drink "too much."  

Want to hear what Jim and I said about this list? LISTEN, below: 5 Ways to Live Happier (or Coping with Crappy Days) as we talk about it