Coffee isn’t just a great way to start your day with a little energy—it’s also a mild antidepressant. According to a 2011 study published in JAMA, the caffeine releases dopamine and serotonin that gives you that amazing high-on-life feeling, making you feel happier overall.
Tips for a Longer Life
No matter what your age, you have the power to change many of the variables that influence how long you live, and how active and vital you feel in your later years. Actions you can take to increase your odds of a longer and more satisfying life span are really quite simple:
- Don’t smoke.
- Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.
- Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
- Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities.
- Build a strong social network.
- Follow preventive care and screening guidelines.
- Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly.
- Ask your doctor if medication can help you control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.
Often the biggest deterrent to improving health is feeling overwhelmed by all the available advice and research. Try to focus first on one small, seemingly inconsequential, unhealthy habit and turn it into a healthy, positive habit. If you’re in the habit of eating as soon as you get home at night, instead, keep walking shoes in the garage or entryway and take a quick spin around the block before going inside. If you have a can of soda at lunchtime every day, have a glass of water two days a week instead. Starting with small, painless changes helps establish the mentality that healthy change is not necessarily painful change. It’s easy to build from here by adding more healthy substitutions.
In fact, even being a little giving is enough to make you feel joy. A 2017 study from the University of Zurich found those who were more generous were much happier than those who were more selfish, even if they just verbally committed to being more generous. Doing something for someone other than yourself lights up an area of your brain that’s associated with happiness, so take advantage—it’s good for all parties involved.
Diets are notoriously ineffective and rarely work well in the long term.
In fact, dieting is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain (104Trusted Source).
Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it.
Weight loss should follow as you transition to whole, nutritious foods.
Do you ever notice how much happier you feel after hanging out with your happy-go-lucky friends over your Debbie Downer pals? There’s a scientific reason for that. A 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal found happiness is actually contagious. The authors said your happiness greatly depends on those around you, so spend time with the people who make you feel good.
Eat whole, real foods.
Make it your goal to have most of your nourishment come from unprocessed, real foods that are as close to the source as possible. What does that mean? Check out the ingredients. If you are eating a handful of almonds for a snack, the only ingredient should be just that: almonds! Whole foods fill your body with more vitamins and minerals, the nutrition we need to stay healthy on the inside.
Have a Grateful Heart
If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, or start a website, and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week. … Some people write in a notebook by their bedside. In 2003, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked groups of students to write down five gratitudes, hassles, or events over the past week for ten weeks. The students who wrote five gratitudes were happier and physically healthier.
The 20-Minute Replay
Writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it. Your brain sends you back. In a University of Texas study called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words,” researchers Richard Slatcher and James Pennebaker had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day. Compared to the test group, the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward and the relationship was more likely to last. What does the 20-Minute Replay do? It helps us remember things we like about people and experiences in our lives.
Remember less as the years go by? You’re not imagining things: Your memory declines about 2 percent each decade because your hippocampus (the part of your brain that stores memories) literally shrinks. But you can even the playing field by keeping up with regular exercise, says neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., director of NeurExpand Brain Center, and author of Boost Your Brain. “A third of your brain is made up of blood vessels, so it makes sense that your physical fitness impacts your brain health,” Fotuhi says. “Research shows that after a yearlong exercise program, the size of the hippocampus increases by about 2 percent, which effectively reverses age-related brain loss.”