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10 Scientifically Proven Methods to Increase your Happiness Right Now

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 The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. ~ Richard Bach

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Do you even remember the last time you felt sheer pleasure, or unmitigated glee? What is your most recent recollection of bubbling over with happiness? I mean, when you felt so giddy that your cheeks were glowing, your heart was thumping, and your eyes welled up with unfettered joy? If that hasn’t happened to you in the last little while (or even a very long while), don’t fret.

As John Barrymore once said, “Happiness often sneaks in a door you didn’t know you left open.” Chasing happiness isn’t really going to make it magically appear, but you can create the circumstances that ‘leave the door open’ to a joyful and meaningful life by setting the stage for happiness, and allowing it a grand entrance. You can feel happier right now, with these scientifically proven methods.

Exercise for seven minutes.

I don’t care if you stand in one place and jump up and down, go for a walk, or climb the stairs at your office, you can feel happier right now by being physically active. In a study described in the book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with medication, exercise, or a combination of both medication and exercise. The results of this study should be extremely motivating. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels early on, the follow-up assessments proved to be radically different. When tested at six months to see if they had ‘relapsed’ into depression, 38 percent of those who took medication alone slipped back into a depressed state, and for those who exercised? Only nine percent relapsed. The proof is evident. You can feel better by exercising, and it doesn’t take much.

Write down 20 things you are grateful for.

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Don’t type up what you are grateful for, write them down, since it requires more neurons to do so, and you’ll feel much better. Robert Emmons, often called the world’s leading expert in the science of gratitude, says that people who keep gratitude journals experience higher levels of positive emotions, more joy and pleasure, and stay alert and optimistic more easily.

Take a 15-minute power nap.

Getting more sleep is one of the best ways to feel happier. “You’re putting energy in the bank when you go to sleep,” says Barry Krakow, MD, medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences, Ltd. in Albuquerque, N.M. “On a cellular level, the body is literally repairing and restoring itself. Without it, you can’t do what you want — physically or mentally.” This also means that you’ll likely find negative emotions creeping in more easily, and find it difficult to constructively handle emotions like anger or frustration, because sleep deprivation increases amygdala activity (a brain structure integral to experiences of negative emotions such as anger and rage) and a disconnect between the amygdala and the area of the brain that regulates its functions. Power napping for at least 15-20 minutes will already start to improve your mood and cognitive functioning, and getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, which usually takes 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems. Napping is even better for you than drinking a cup of coffee.

Get outside.

There a 101 reasons nature makes us feel good, but ‘green science’ as it is called, is learning more about how the blue sky and green trees really affect us all the time. For one thing, nature teaches us that we are perfect just the way we are. When we are alone in nature, there is no classism, racism, homophobia, or sexism. A rushing river doesn’t care what level of the social hierarchy you’ve reached, or haven’t. Time slows to a more manageable pace, and we experience profound healing on levels mainstream medicine likely will never understand. For starters, you are breathing in fresh air, and absorbing Vitamin D, which is a known precursor for making happy hormones. Being outdoors is so uplifting that many people describe is as being a spiritual experience. If you can only be outside for a few minutes every day, take advantage of that opportunity. Your happiness is forever connected to being one with nature.

Be with your peeps.

Spending time with friends and family is one of those ‘can’t buy me love’ things that really does add to our overall happiness. Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. The professor tells us that most of the things we do in life are to acquire more time with friends and family – so why not just cut to the chase, and DO that. The ‘happiness’ expert says, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” The ‘can’t buy me love’ aspect is quite real, in fact. The connections we have with friends and family is worth as much as $132,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction, according to the Journal of Socio-Economics. If you don’t have friends, you can make some new ones by taking a class at a community college, joining a sports team or look for a social event to meet new people in your city.

Meditate.

A study by the University of Sydney surveyed 350 people who had meditated for more than two years, and compared those results with existing government surveys on people’s mental and physical health. Those who meditated were found to be ten percent happier than those who didn’t. While that doesn’t seem like much, meditation can also give us more mental clarity, feelings of peace and of gratitude (see number two), and 76 other scientifically verifiable benefits that you’d otherwise be missing out on.

Watch the Weather.

The American Meteorological Society has published research that found temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity. It also found that happiness is maximized at 57 degrees (13.9°C), so keep an eye on the weather forecast and head outside when the weather is prime. If you live in a warmer climate, find a shady spot and sit in nature.

Help somebody.

Doing good deeds, or helping someone else for 100 hours a year contributes massively to your overall feelings of peace, well-being, and happiness. “A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself,” said Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, but “it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.”

Stop the commute.

Okay, so you can’t just up and quit your job, but you might be able to work out a ‘flex’ schedule that allows you to work from home a few days a week, or you might even consider moving closer to your workplace. Why? Commuting makes us unhappy. A Swedish study found that commuting is so hard on folks that people are 40% more likely to divorce if one person commutes more than 45 minutes to work every day. If you absolutely must sit in traffic for an average of 38 to 60 hours a year, then at least listen to an uplifting book on tape, or learn a new language. This can make you happy, too.

Learn something new.

A core psychological need for humans is to learn and master new skills. Psychologists call this need ‘mastery.’ You can see it in babies learning to crawl or sit up for the first time, but also in grown adults mastering a violin concerto, or learning how to converse in a second language. Learning something new in one area of our lives also often triggers an add-on bonus of learning something new in another area. It’s a win-win-win situation. You learn one thing, and this helps you learn a bonus skill or concept, and this also leads to more happiness. You don’t have to get formal certificates or professional qualifications. Just learning how to plant a garden or play a new chord on your guitar can boost levels of happiness.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Consciousness

Study Shows That Horses Understand Our Emotions & Remember Us Deeply

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth have discovered that horses can recognize and recall human expression.

  • Reflect On:

    We are all interconnected and it is beautiful to see more studies coming up that clearly showcase just how aware and in tune animals can be and are.

The more in tune with myself I strive to become, the more drawn I am to explore how connected we all are – not solely with one another, but with everything. This, like many other deeper concepts surrounding life, begs to answer the ever-present question of ‘are there other emotionally intelligent beings out there?’

One could argue that their dogs or other galactic beings (if real) could be emotionally intelligent, but as we look at all of the research, it is clear that most living organisms actually display a very obvious intelligence. From lobsters to plants, they have all been known to display some form of intelligence. This is precisely what was revealed when a recent study explored horses and their interaction with humans.

Let’s take a step back real quick. If you have ever owned or spent a lot of time riding with one particular horse, chances are good that you’ve felt some sort of special connection with them — and wondered if horses even like humans. Maybe you’ve felt like they were actually your friend, or a small part of your family, and wanted to know if the feeling was reciprocal. Research is now confirming that that connection isn’t all in your head — and anyone who has ever had a pet before, horse or not, definitely won’t be surprised at some of these recent findings.

In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth showed domestic horses photographs of humans with either a happy or angry expression on their faces. Then, later on, the horses were introduced to the same people they saw in the photographs, now with neutral expressions. This new study shows that horses can actually understand and remember human emotions, which is something that makes them seem even more magical than they already did.

“Researchers watched the eye movements of horses as they met the photograph subjects in real life. The horses perceived those who had been photographed with an angry face as more threatening.” – UPI

Horses were more wary of people they previously saw in a photo with an angry expression on their face. Photo by University of Portsmouth/University of Sussex

UPI reports that previous research showed horses tend to focus on negative or threatening objects and events with their left eye, as the right hemisphere of their brain is tasked with assessing risk. In the new experiment, researchers found horses stared at subjects who had been photographed with an angry expression using their left eye.

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“What we’ve found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state when they meet them later that day — and, crucially, that they adapt their behavior accordingly,” Karen McComb, a professor at the University of Sussex, said in a news release. “Essentially horses have a memory for emotion.”

Scientists have previously shown horses can recognize expressions, but the latest findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, are the first to show the mammals can recall an expression linked with an individual’s face.

“We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability,” Portsmouth researcher Leanne Proops said. “What’s very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with the person.”

This is a beautiful discovery in and of itself as stated above, outside of ourselves there had not been any recording of other mammals showing this ability.

The Takeaway

With more of us beginning to turn inward for growth, it is beautiful to see that more and more research is coming to the forefront revealing our fellow animal kingdom as being connected and in tune with us as much as their surroundings. At times when everything else seems to be chaotic, remember to be still. The real magic within us and our connectedness to everything is what oneness consciousness is all about. You are not alone in this world, let alone in the universe. It is in our awareness that we allow bonds that were seen as less than to blossom — it is in our remembrance of Self that we re-member as One with all.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Pleasure & Originality

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We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius which is exact on August 15th at 12:29 pm, Universal Time. It will appear the fullest on the night of August 14th in the Americas and on the night of 15th everywhere else.

This is the peak of the Lunar cycle which began two weeks prior with a New Moon in Leo. The energies of it build up as the Moon increases its light and are strongest in the days before and after. However, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Sun in Leo and Moon in Aquarius. It can reflect either a conflict or integration of both signs. We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Leo side and others expressing the Aquarius side.

Leo is associated with self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be too loud and boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The best way to approach Leo energy in a positive way is to be in our authentic and heart centred version of ourselves; whether it be in our creations, how we perform, or how we express other Leo traits previously mentioned. When we do this, we are more likely to receive a supportive response from those on the receiving end.

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Aquarius is associated with friends, social networks, the group, the team, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. Associated with Uranus, it can be unconventional, idealistic, innovative, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary. It tries to figure out how to do things in a better way and takes the future into consideration. Although it is idealistic, it still applies itself intellectually and rationally yet can also be theoretical at times.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Aquarius is also associated with science which negatively is reflected by Saturn as it is limited to the material world, yet reflected positively by the innovativeness of Uranus. Furthermore, other Uranian expressions of Aquarius can be of a higher level of consciousness which can go beyond the limitations of only observing the physical aspects of reality, and integrating the spiritual as well.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative Uranian attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Opposing Venus Superior Conjunction In a Quincunx With Pluto

At the time of this Full Moon, Venus is closely aligned with the Sun in Leo from our Earth-based perspective which is known as its ‘Superior Conjunction’ lasting from August 10th-17th. This is when the Earth and Venus are on opposite sides of the Sun.

This is a period in which we may experience important developments connected to Venus ruled areas (love, relationships, friendships, values, finances, worth, creativity, aesthetics). This is sort of like the beginning of a new Venus cycle in which it will be travelling ahead of the Sun until Spring 2020.

However, another way to look at it is that this period can bring more clarity and forward momentum around things connected to what was going on in the Fall of 2018 and building up since then. Venus last joined the Sun from our vantage point in late October when it was retrograde in its ‘Inferior Conjunction’. This was when the Earth and Venus were on the same side of the Sun. .

At that time something may have been seeded or we could have been doing something that may have had a direct or indirect connection to how things are playing out at this point. It can be associated with Venus ruled areas but it could also have something to do with other aspects of your life, triggered by its previous retrograde last Fall.

Due to the Full Moon being in an opposition with this conjunction, it’s also possible that the push-pull energy of the Leo-Aquarius polarity (mentioned above) can have something to do with Venus themes of values, love, relationships, friendships, finances, worth, self-worth, creativity, or aesthetics.

The Sun/Venus conjunction is in a quincunx aspect with Pluto in Capricorn. This can bring in frustrations and/or needed adjustments connected to fears, power, control issues, obsessions, hidden matters, shadow qualities, repressed feelings, sex, desires, structures, and ambitions to any developments connected to the Superior Conjunction of Venus. For many people, this may also be associated with the themes of last Lunar Eclipse.

Mercury Trine Chiron and Square Uranus

Less than seven hours before this Full Moon, Mercury (which has returned to Leo) ended its post shadow period of its previous retrograde that occurred throughout July. In the last few weeks things may have started to flow more smoothly and we could have experienced some resolutions and clarity around any challenges or issues that came up in the month prior. We may feel things moving forward and could also experience further developments related to this in early September.

During this Full Moon and in the day following, Mercury is in a trine with Chiron and square with Uranus, which has recently begun its retrograde. Our thoughts, communications, or other developments can be healing, holistic, spiritually oriented, unconventional, unique, awakening, and insightful. We can be more inventive, tap into new and original ideas, or bridge different things that don’t normally come together.

This energy can also be a bit unstable, impulsive, or we can be mentally scattered depending on how we apply ourselves. We can experience disruptions, surprises, changes in our plans and routines, or a disconnect in communications. Considering that Uranus is nearly stopped in the sky as it begins its retrograde, its energies are amplified right now. This can also reflect more extreme manifestations of its energy such as rebellion, separation, or even accidents in rare cases.

Mercury Trine Jupiter, Venus Conjunct Mars While Moving Towards Trine With Uranus

From August 20th-21st, Mercury will be in a trine with Jupiter in Sagittarius which has recently ended its retrograde and  is now moving forward. This can be good for learning, expansive communications or thoughts, travel plans, positive thinking, and optimism. We may want to seek the big picture, beliefs, perspectives, and meaning. For some people this can be lucky and there is a higher probability that things going on at this time can go very well.

Venus joins Mars from August 23rd-25th. This can be great for romantic, social, or creative activities. It can stimulate passion and sexuality. We may seek pleasure at this time yet we can also be impulsive about it. It can be good for anything that involves female and male energy coming together. Considering that this conjunction is occurring in Virgo, it can also be good for any type of actions or work that involve beautifying anything or even cleaning and organizing.

Both of these planets are also moving towards a trine with Uranus which is strongest over the following week. Venus makes its contact with it from August 25th to 26th which can bring an exciting, surprising, or stimulating energy around our relations and finances.

It can also be be good to participate in something fun that is different or new to us. For some people it can reflect creative undertakings especially if it involves technology. Making aesthetic changes in some way can also be ideal as well.

Mars’ trine with Uranus is strongest from August 27th-29th. This is good for any sort of actions that are unusual, experimental, liberating, progressive, technological, or independent. We may want to do something that involves making positive change.

Things To Consider At This Time

What has come up for you in the last week around values, relationships, love, friendships, finances, pleasures, creativity, worth, or aesthetics? How should you proceed forward based on these developments or realizations?

How can you balance your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What is your gut telling you? What signs are you getting from the Universe?

What can you do to be more innovative, original, or progressive? What areas of your life are calling for growth, expansion, exploration, meaning, or better understanding? Is there anything that you feel you should be doing to help you feel more free?

Do you have fears, repressed/deep feelings, shadow qualities, or obsessions that are creating obstacles or complications? If so, how should you handle it? Do you need to release or unravel anything to help you feel better, heal, or bring more joy into your life?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon when it begins to wane until the next New Moon in two weeks. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on August 15th at 12:29pm Universal Time. You can click here to so what that is in your time zone.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

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Consciousness

Tips For Those Who Have Trouble Meditating & How To Overcome Them

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I’m willing to bet that meditation is not a new concept to you.

With one of the latest rough estimates gauging that anywhere between 200 to 500 million people meditate with regularity globally, there is a pretty good chance you’ve either tried it at some point or at least have been encouraged to — especially if you decided to read this article.

And while there are plenty of people who swear by its power, myself included at times, I’m convinced that there are plenty more of us who just don’t get what all the hype is about. While I don’t personally believe that we all need to become meditation aficionados, I wanted to create a resource for those of you who have interest in jumping on the bandwagon but always seem to hit a roadblock.

I’ve nailed down 4 of the most common reasons why so many of us struggle to meditate and how we can change that. Watch it or read it, the choice is yours!

1. Preconceived Belief That Meditation Is Boring

Compared to the sights and sounds of ordinary conscious life, meditation certainly can be substantially less sensorially stimulating — especially at first. But that’s part of the point! One of meditation’s greatest potential powers is its ability to bring us into the present moment without any glaring distractions, a reality that many of us haven’t experienced in years.

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So if you’re part of the crowd that keeps putting meditation off because you think it’ll be too boring, I challenge you to ask yourself: is boredom really the issue? Or am I instead either so addicted to stimulation or even worse afraid to be alone with my thoughts?

Solution: Involve others! Either set up a challenge with your friends to add an element of competition and accountability to it, or meditate with a group in a public space. It’s amazing how much less intimidating being alone with your thoughts can be if you’re not the only one intending to do it.

2. Crazy Expectations

If I were to ask you to create a mental image representative of the word meditation, what would come to mind? I’m willing to bet that at least one (if not several) of the following elements would come up: the sunrise, a sunset, a monk, mountains, or someone sitting cross-legged with great posture.

While these visuals certainly are accurate depictions of meditation, they don’t account for the vast majority of the 200 to 500 million of us that are practicing it regularly. Meditation can be done at any time of day, in a countless number of settings, on a comfy chair, and sitting or laying quite normally. So rather than setting these unrealistic expectations of what meditation is supposed to be like, why not just try making it your own?

Solution: Remind yourself that we are all human. Even those who claim to have attained the most profound insight while meditating have had just as many random thoughts pop into their head, so you’re not broken and just as capable.

3. Shear Impatience

We live in a world where a substantial number of us are not only used to but fully expect things instantaneously. We’re run by instant gratification, and when something fails to provide that, we’re quick to lose interest and ultimately our patience.

If you want to meditate regularly but patience is an issue for you, I’ve got some bad news: meditation will never satisfy your need for instant results. But meditation is also one of the best tools for developing a state of mind that won’t be so hungry for them!

Solution: Start by “forcing” yourself to practice patience through a reward and/or punishment system. Establish something that you are going to reward yourself with for meditating 7, 14, or 21 days in a row. Or even better, set up a punishment (ex. donating $100 to a cause you don’t believe in) for not sticking to your goal.

4. Overreacting To Thoughts

One second you’re focusing on your breath, and before you know it several minutes have gone by and your mind has drifted through a random string of thoughts you never thought imaginable. As I mentioned above, this is far more normal than you may think!

The part we need to focus on is how we choose to react to noticing that our mind has drifted off rather than the fact that it has.

There is a substantial difference between allowing yourself to get pissed off while believing that the entire meditation is ruined, and just noting that you’ve drifted, and bringing yourself back to your initial intention.

Solution: I’ve highlighted the word noting above because I believe it’s one of the best solutions for this issue. When you realize that your mind has drifted, choose to make a calm mental note that it has happened and then bring yourself back either by re-focusing your attention on your breath or by doing a numeric countdown (anything with a meditative purpose that your mind can easily focus on).


Ready to change your life today? Get my FREE eBook on 5 Quick Daily Hacks for a GENUINELY Happier Life sent straight to your inbox within 48 hours by signing up here. And for more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Facebook.

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