And now, the secret to happiness. Are you listening?
A Swiss study recently published in Frontiers in Psychologyreveals that people with high levels of hope are more likely to score high in life satisfaction. Other traits, including zest, love, and social intelligence, were also linked to life satisfaction.
It makes sense: Hopeful people believe positive things can happen in the future, says study author María Luisa Martínez Martí, Ph.D., so they work harder to achieve their goals. Similarly, she says, zest gives you the energy to work hard and reach your marks. Meanwhile, the capacity to love and be loved, and social intelligence, might be key to maintaining a strong social network—an essential source of support.
But “be more hopeful and socially intelligent” isn’t exactly the most actionable piece of advice. So here’s what you can do to actually foster those traits—and enjoy your life a little bit more.
Hopeful people are confident they can achieve goals. They also trust others, believe in their ability to overcome difficult situations, and have a spiritual side that gives them empowerment, connection, and reassurance, says Anthony Scioli, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Keene State University. He suggests thinking about your long-term goals and how they can drive your life. “Try to come up with lists of people, places, and things that can empower you and help you reach those ends,” he says. Then, when you encounter obstacles, think: Are these challenges real, or have I created them? “If they are real, confronting them is better than denial,” says Scioli.
This doesn’t necessarily have to mean religion. “It’s reasonable to think about what your spiritual needs are,” he says. “Look at pros and cons of different spiritual traditions—they provide different types of hope.” Even simply volunteering or helping others can be a spiritual experience in itself, he says. It can leave you feeling more hopeful about the future.
Switch Up Your Schedule
Zest is how much energy and excitement you bring to daily life. Mixing up your routine may foster it: In a 2012 paper in theJournal of Happiness Studies, people improved their levels of zest by making a conscious effort to work physical activity and sports, social activities, and challenging tasks into their daily routines. They reinforced the schedule enhancements by writing down a description of the activities they added to each day.
Learn to Love Meditation
A landmark study published in the Journal of Personal and Social Psychology suggests that you can increase your potential to love yourself and others with “loving-kindness meditation.” Like other types of meditation, this involves sitting with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath. However, instead of centering your mind on the moment, you think about a person you love and then extend those good feelings to yourself and others. This may help you experience and pay attention to positive emotions, the researchers say.
Talk to Yourself
Social intelligence is your ability to navigate social situations and relate to other people. Easier said than done, right? You can start by asking yourself: How often do I find myself blaming other people for social situations that didn’t go the way I wish they had? “Then if you notice that you find yourself saying that, attributing it to other people, ask yourself: What role did I play in the situation, even if I think it’s 90 percent the other person’s responsibility?” suggests Ilene Wasserman, Ph.D., founder and president of ICW Consulting. You might find that you’re making a consistent mistake that leads to conflicts or bad feelings, and then you can take steps to correct it.
Source: Men’s Health