Be a Lifelong Learner
Staying mentally active and open to learning new skills and subjects can add more joy, adventure and fulfillment to your life, helping to ward off isolation, anxiety and depression. While you never really outgrow your ability to learn, it can wither if you don’t use it.
Studying anything new, such as a musical instrument or a foreign language, exercises your ability to think creatively and keeps your mind elastic. Community colleges, adult education centres and planetariums are great places to expand your horizons and perhaps find new friends.
When it comes to being happy, a positive attitude helps. Researchers have documented the physical and social benefits of looking at life with a smile. For instance, studies have shown that optimists actually tend to live longer than pessimists. Optimism isn’t simply positive thinking—what some psychologists call ‘passive optimism’.
Optimism means having a proactive attitude and taking steps to consciously improve the conditions in your life. Even if you’re not a born optimist, you can learn to be one. Start by faking it. Eventually, you might find yourself becoming an optimist just by acting like one. Here are a few ways to get started:
Change Your Focus: Instead of seeing problems, try to see challenges. For example, if you are diagnosed with an illness, rather than despairing or relying totally on the doctor’s advice, ask questions, read up on your condition and maybe join a support group where you can make yourself and others feel better.
Give Thanks Every Day: Keep a gratitude journal. Start with 10 things, both big and small, for which you are grateful (for example, ‘my computer didn’t crash’, or ‘my partner is in good health’). Keep adding more blessings as they occur to you and when you’re feeling low, curl up with your journal.
Resolve to Stop Being Unhappy: You may have to do this in spurts at first to get the hang of it. Try it for a minute, then an hour, then a day and keep building from there. Sometimes, when you act as if you are already happy, you tend to feel happier in the long run.
Did you know that almost a third (32 per cent) of Australians do some sort of volunteer work? The average hours worked by these volunteers tend to increase steadily with age. And as the need for volunteers grows every day, so do the ranks. Be part of this crowd by contacting your local community centre or a volunteer group.
While gaining plenty of social benefits, you’ll also take your mind off your own troubles.
Volunteering could even add years to your life. According to one university study, senior citizens who volunteered showed a 67 per cent reduced risk of dying during a seven-year period compared with people who did not volunteer.
Rely on Pet Power
Caring for a pet can go a long way towards increasing your sense of fulfillment in life. A furry or feathery friend can help you have fun. There’s nothing like a dog or a cat to make you laugh. In one survey of male pet owners, 52 per cent confessed to having sung or danced with their dogs.
A pet can also make you feel adored. Pets can be better than friends for boosting your self-esteem. They are never judgmental and always accept and love you. They’re constantly happy to see you and are never in a bad mood or upset at you. They just love you, plain and simple!