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March-April 2012, Vol. XXVII, No. 2
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Getting enough sleep
Generic OTC drugs
Medicine cabinet 'must-haves'
How to dispose of medicines
Dealing with angina
'Sandwich generation' stress
Watch for eye diseases
Heart-healthy oils and spreads
Walk for exercise
Tips for healthy hair
Risks of raw milk
Coffee and depression
New drug for macular degeneration
FDA approves Juvisync
A 'model' hobby
Add joy to your life
New museum showcases Greek history
'Grannies on Safari'
Medicare Basics
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Feature Stories

Want more joy in your life? Try these ideas

Joy Life

The secret to happiness, like the secret to success, has long been studied and debated. What makes one person happy could well stress out someone else (take skydiving, for example). Still, psychologists and other researchers find that some activities and mind-sets appear more than likely to increase joy and contentment. Here are some to try:

Help others.
Doing things for other people obviously helps them, but research shows it can also increase your happiness. Big projects involving a lot of time or money are great. Yet small gestures done sincerely can also do the trick. Call a friend or family member you haven't spoken with in awhile, smile at a stranger, hold the elevator or subway door, let someone merge in front of you on highways, and commit other random acts of kindness.

Share a laugh.
Not only is laughter the best medicine, it brings people together, increases joy, and counteracts conflict and stress. To add laughter to your day, spend time with happy and funny people, watch funny movies or TV shows, or read the comics in the newspaper or online. Other ideas: Choose a funny screensaver for your computer or ask friends and family about the funniest thing that happened to them today.

Take time to play.
Playfulness helps anyone of any age be more resilient, happy, flexible, and creative. It can teach us to better manage and transform stress and negative emotions, too. It's easy to be playful with pets and children. But looking for ways to play with adults at work and home makes your relationships healthier.

Strengthen social ties.
Close relationships with family, friends, and coworkers are a key factor in happiness. To strengthen relationships, stay in regular contact with friends and family. Listen closely when they talk - turn off your cell phone and iPod! Tell others how much you appreciate, respect, count on, and love them.

Do something you enjoy.
It doesn't matter if it's a hobby you've been doing for years or something you've never tried but have always wanted to attempt. Carve out some time from the hours you spend watching TV or surfing online and then do it.

Become more resilient.
Your ability to bounce back from adversity, relationship problems, trauma, serious health problems, or work and financial setbacks is called resilience. To build resilience, accept that change is a part of life. Take daily steps toward goals that are important to you, nurture a positive view of yourself, and avoid reacting to crises as being insurmountable.

Be grateful.
Noticing and being grateful for positive things in your life can boost moods and help dispel negative thinking. To increase your gratitude, keep a journal and note large and small events that bring joy or make you smile. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who's been kind to you or a positive influence in your life. Deliver it in person if you can.

Seek support.
Self-help and support groups, books, online resources, and mental health professionals can offer ideas about how to find more joy. Consider turning to them if you're struggling.

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