Beat the winter blues and get happy

happy campus jumping students
Reaching out and doing good makes being happier easier. / Thinkstock

Amid endless assignments, looming deadlines and stress, college life isn’t all a bowl of cherries — especially as the winter break recedes into the past. January is a time when students often struggle with the blues, but the up-and-coming curriculum of positive psychology is making its mark.

Just ask Stella Grizont, founder of well-being learning company WOOPAAH and instructor of “The Science of Happiness” at the online learning company Udemy.com. Grizont earned her master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and points out the new science understands what makes life worth living from an empirical evidence-based perspective. She says that positive psychology focuses on what’s right with people and “how to go from zero to 10-plus.”

The relatively new field dives into theory and application with classes like “Approaches to the Good Life” and “Applied Positive Interventions.” Grizont learned that exuding positive emotions and experiencing a generally high level of life satisfaction have a huge impact on one’s life span. Get this — you’re twice as likely to be alive after 65 if you’re happy versus unhappy, you’re three times more creative on the job and 30 percent more productive at work. “In fact, people even think you’re hotter,” she dishes.

And it’s not about trying to be happy all the time either. According to Tal Ben-Shahar, best-selling author of “Choose the Life You Want,” a person can endure emotional pain at times and still be happy overall in the sense of an “overall experience of pleasure and meaning.”

Recognizing that happy people enjoy positive emotions while perceiving their lives as purposeful, Ben-Shahar says it’s critical for students to give themselves permission to have feelings. Instead of ignoring them, uncomfortable emotions should rise to the surface. “Allowing ourselves to experience emotions such as envy or anger or fear or sadness is central to a happy and fulfilling life.”

Not only should students acknowledge emotions, they should slow down and simplify daily life. Ben-Shahar, a former Harvard professor of positive psychology, says we’re generally too busy trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. He adds it’s OK to not check emails for a few hours and it’s OK to not have a phone on 24/7. “Doing less instead of more unlocks the key to happiness. We are in a better position to enjoy the treasures of happiness that are inside us and around us.”

Such treasures, he says, can be found by focusing on the positive and expressing gratitude, whether it’s by keeping a regular gratitude journal, meditating or praying. “We too often take the positive elements of our lives for granted. We have to learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.”

Four tips to building happiness habits:

1. Celebrate Thanksgiving today. “Appreciate three things that are going right in your life right now and write them down. Do this daily,” explains Grizont.

2. Prioritize people. Spend time with or call those you love to tell them you care; research finds that relationships drive happiness.

3. Work your strengths. Identify your top strength and find one new way to apply it. She notes, “Researchers found this can decrease depression.”

4. Do three nice deeds daily. It’s not just enough to be kind every once in a while; Grizont says studies reveal the benefits of doing good rubs off when you’re at it several times a day. Hold the door open, give a compliment, offer a helping hand.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.