Happiness vs. optimism

I heard something on the John Tesh radio show a while ago, and jotted it down as a potential blog post topic. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article it comes from — so here’s a brief rundown based on what I can remember.

Sadly, it’s not much. The older I get, the more “senior moments” I have. I’d take that herb that’s supposed to aid memory if only I could remember what it is. And if you’ve read that joke before, it’s because I forgot I already blogged it! 😉

Ahem.

There’s a difference between happiness and optimism, according to Tesh: Happy is a feeling; optimistic is an attitude.

So while you might not feel happy all the time, you can still choose to be optimistic.

Makes perfect sense, right? I think I’ll work on boosting my optimism, starting today.

How do you choose optimism? Of course, Tesh has ideas out the wazoo:

Optimism can be learned, just like any new skill or hobby. That’s according to Dr. John Tauer, a professor of psychology. His favorite fake-it-til-you-make-it trick? Force a smile when you’re feeling sad or angry. We have special “smile muscles,” and those muscles send a message to your brain that you’re happy, and your brain will believe it! Even holding a pencil between your teeth works to activate the chemicals in your brain that register happiness.

In another piece of intelligence, residents in some parts of the country are more energetic, more optimistic, and better sleepers than people who live elsewhere.The secrets that give them a leg up on the rest of us, courtesy of First magazine:

  • Californians are twice as likely to lead active lifestyles than people in other areas because of the good weather, and nearby trails, mountains, deserts and ocean. To inspire activity wherever you live, listen to up-tempo tunes when you exercise. Researchers in Great Britain found that fast music makes workouts feel more rewarding, and motivates you to do it again. So, look for songs about 130 beats per minute, like Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”
  • South Carolina residents are 20% less likely to experience insomnia because they tend get up earlier and get a dose of early-morning sunshine, which keeps their biological clock in sync. To follow their lead, skip sunglasses in the morning. A study at the University of Texas found that a few minutes of UV rays each morning boosts melatonin output at night, and can improve sleep quality within one week.
  • Residents of South Dakota are 20% less likely to get depressed because neighbors and family come together to provide love and support when others are in need. To boost your mood: schedule a lunch date. According to researchers at the University of Rochester, New York, spending just one hour a week catching up with a good friend can boost your mood and help you cope with life’s ups and downs. The key is to meet a pal who energizes you, not someone who leaves you feeling drained.
  • People in Colorado have the healthiest blood sugar levels, because they’re more likely to eat a healthy diet – which leads to a 42% increase in energy. To get on the same page, eat one serving a day of red or orange produce. Dr. James Hill is a nutrition expert at the University of Colorado at Denver. He says reddish produce boosts the production of glucose-regulating insulin. So, stock up on carrots, mangoes, apricots, bell peppers and tomatoes.
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