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
Local

Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.