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The National Institutes of Health report that more than 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression.
While you can’t equate depression with run-of-the-mill unhappiness, there does seem to be a disconnection between reported and actual happiness. In that case, certain behaviors can raise red flags that negative emotions are taking a toll. After recognizing them and taking action, folks can get back on track toward joy.
Count down begins…
5. Too Much TV
Sometimes, a stressful day simply calls for a night of indulgent television. Kick back, relax and let your mind melt in the sea of reality shows and hospital dramas. But if this is your routine night after night, it may be wise to abandon the remote for a while.
On average, the happier respondents watched 19 hours of television, compared to 25 hours for the unhappy set. Instead of kicking back on the couch, take a cue from the happier lot. Their leisure time involved hanging out with friends, volunteering or participating in organized activities.
A sure sign of growing despondency is fractured relationships. Unhappier people may have more difficultly resolving issues or project immediate problems onto the future. They may not attempt to broaden friend circles and meet new people. And when relationships turn sour, this can reinforce feelings of discontent.
The happier people included in the General Social Survey spent more time with others in one way or another. That result echoes throughout the vast body of happiness research; consistently, those with the deepest and widest social connections report the highest levels of life satisfaction
According to positive psychology, or the science of subject well-being, environment plays an important role in people’s quest for happiness. Feeling safe and comfortable generates contentment and satisfaction. Conversely, an excessively stressful environment promotes anxiety and insecurity.
Researchers have attributed this to the rising stress levels women must manage while juggling a family and career. A separate comparison of how people spend their time concluded that men may be happier today because they spend less time on unpleasant tasks than women
While we can’t entirely eliminate stress from our lives, some tenets of positive psychology can help alleviate it. Specifically, positive thinking, mindfulness and optimism serve as emotional stress antidotes. When stress strikes, fight the urge to park in front of the television and try out relaxation techniques instead.
2. Constant Pleasure Seeking
By definition, pleasure is momentary and fleeting — leaving us wanting more. Contentment, on the other hand, means appreciating present circumstances and surroundings.
1. Sleepless Nights
The link between sleep and happiness begs the question of correlation versus causation. Does poor sleep make us unhappy, or is unhappiness hindering sleep? It probably depends on individual situations. Someone working 60 hours per week may be suffering from overwork and sheer lack of sleep time. On the other hand, symptoms of unhappiness, such as stress and television, don’t promote quality rest, either.
Tackling the sleep issue may require a multi-pronged approach. Evaluating stress levels and exercise routines are smart places to start. After all, when you don’t prepare your body for bedtime, nodding off can prove challenging no matter how happy you feel.
source: FT Blog