Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, Eric Barker wrote about, “How to be Happy: 5 Secrets Backed by Research”. He shares science-based insight on life and I look forward to my Sunday morning reading, so I was inspired to share his tips as I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about how these happiness tips relate to “Meaningful Travel.”
According to Eric’s research,
In the United States, rates of depression are ten times higher today than they were in the 1960s, and the average age for the onset of depression is fourteen and a half compared to twenty-nine and a half in 1960.
Since none of us want to be part of this trend, Eric shared these 5 tips on How to be Happy from Tal Ben-Shahar, who taught the most popular class at Harvard University about happiness. Tal is also the bestselling author of a number of books including Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.
1. You need pleasure and meaning. Feeling good is important but we also need a purpose.
To experience a sense of purpose, the goals we set for ourselves need to be intrinsically meaningful. We could set ourselves the goal of scoring top grades in college or owning a large house, yet still feel empty. To live a meaningful life, we must have a self-generated purpose that possesses personal significance rather than one that is dictated by society’s standards and expectations.
So rather than taking a typical family vacation, take one that can be really meaningful by incorporating ways to give back to local communities and creating that sense of purpose!
2. Map your life. Note where your time goes and ask if it’s making you happy. Then do more of the good stuff.
Looking at how you really spend your time and maximizing the good moments sounds simple, but we usually trust our very fallible memories and don’t proactively try to increase the good on our calendars.
Vacations are generally high on the list of activities that make people happy, and if you should be doing more of the good stuff, then consider taking a vacation as often as possible! Put it on your calendar, even if it’s just a short weekend getaway.
3. “No pain, no gain” is a myth. We’re happiest doing things where we enjoy the process, not just the results.
Spend as much time as possible on your “want-to” list, and try to spend less time doing those awful “have-to” activities.
Putting this advice into the context of a vacation…you should take the time to enjoy the research, planning, and anticipation of the trip, and not just the trip itself. Enjoy the entire process and journey! And most importantly, create that “bucket list” of places you dream about visiting.
4. What would you do if no one would judge you? This question can point you in the right direction.
We spend so much time worried about what other people think and trying to impress them that we end up doing a lot of stuff that doesn’t really make us happy.
Travel often helps people be more carefree and not worry so much about being judged or pleasing others. A personal getaway can be a great exercise in stepping back and evaluating how you spend your time and what truly matters to you.
5. Doing beats knowing. Use rituals. Don’t just read these ideas. Make them into habits.
Knowing is nice, but it’s doing that really matters…Anything we want to do to improve our life needs to be a ritual — a habit — if it’s really going to create change.
Here are the rituals that Tal recommends for happiness:
It doesn’t just keep you healthy and attractive. Studies show it’s as effective as antidepressants in keeping you smiling.
Spend time with friends
The number one predictor of happiness is quality time we spend with people we care about and who care about us.
Expressing gratitude to others with a gratitude letter, but also just expressing gratitude to ourselves, being grateful for what we have, is vital.
Five minutes a day of just closing your eyes and breathing deeply or listening to your favorite music with your eyes closed, that can go a long way toward making you happier.
And If I may add, a VACATION THAT MATTERS can incorporate all of the above habits, rituals, and fulfillment that will bring you much happiness!