What are the two magic words that you can always use to make a shark happy? “Man Overboard!” (coolfunnyquotes.com) 

Happiness. What could be better, both in our own life and those we care about.  Neuronation.com recently hit this age old search head on:  “Nowadays, there isn’t any bookstore that doesn’t fill its shelves with “how to be happy” guidance books. But while these are often lengthy and repetitive, we thought we’d give you the essential 11 points you really need to make you happier in your everyday life. All of them are really easy and have been scientifically proven to work!”

Yikes, scientifically proven.  Let’s take a look!

  1. Laugh: A study at the Mayo Clinic showed that laughter and giggles reduce stress.
  2. Put your happy music on: Recent research at the University of Missouri discovered that participants were able to improve their mood by listening to upbeat music and even boosted their overall happiness over a period of two weeks.
  3. 3. Go for a run: When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which have been known to be the “happiness” hormone in our body that makes us feel uplifted and euphoric.
  4. 4. Cuddle a puppy: If you’re looking for a reason to get a pet, look no further. Researcher at the Miami University found that spending time with a pet can significantly increase your emotional well-being and happiness.
  5. Volunteer: By helping others you not only make them feel better – you make yourself happier too. An extensive study at the University of Exeter Medical School proved that volunteering and helping others can lead to an increased well-being, lower depression, and even reduce our risk of dying!

6.Meditate: A study at UCLA also revealed that meditation can increase your brain size, prevent brain cells from dying when you age, enable you to focus more deeply, and deal with stress better.

  1. Recall happy memories: A study at the University of Southampton showed that just by thinking of happy memories in your past, you can strengthen your happiness levels and be more optimistic about the future.

8.Walk in the park: A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh found that we feel more at ease when we are surrounded by nature instead of an urban scenery.

  1. Take a vacation: Not only is a vacation a great way to distance yourself from your daily workload, a study conducted at the University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands also examined what the mere anticipation of a vacation does to your mood. Turns out that you already increase your overall feeling of happiness – potentially up to 8 weeks prior to your departure.
  2. Sleep: As we all know, sleep is good for us. Experiments by psychologist David Dinges from the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who get their sleep are much happier than their crankier counterparts who don’t hit the sack timely [sic].
  3. Move closer to your workplace: Or get a job close to where you live. Commuting has negative consequences for your health, your psychological well-being, and your happiness – as research at Umea University in Sweden has demonstrated.

Wow, cool. But who ya gonna believe?  Those eggheads or me, your friendly social psychologist who got all happiness pounded out of him while attending and freezingat the University of Chicago?  In the 70’s no less, when Mayor Mike Bilandic got canned when he couldn’t deal with the merciless blizzards.

So buckle up my friends, here (at last!) is the real psycho-journalistic scoop.

  1. Fun pump. Identify those things or activities that give you the most pleasure and schedule them regularly.  Fishing, golf, knitting scarves, baking bread, reading great thrillers, playing with your grandchildren, this should be pretty straightforward.  And feel free to adjust your schedule, with the pandemic and all pressing on everyone.
  2. Go to church. Whether you consider yourself “religious” or not.  I will go to any church, for example, if they have a great choir. Baptist and large Catholic churches are my favorite.  Hey, consider auditioning for a choir if your voice doesn’t threaten to break glass!
  3. Get a cute kitten or puppy and just pamper them. For every dollar you spend, the psychological return will be immense. Can’t get out much?  Dog walkers are happy to help out.
  4. Cut back or eliminate frivolous expenses and donate the money you save to charity. C’mon, you know who you are.  You gals with dozens of pairs of shoes, most of which you never wear.  You guys who blow scads of money on gambling or tricked out cars.  Buy cheaper beer, wine, slacks.  Grow your own vegetables for heaven sakes.  It’s fun!  Jane and I grew Meyer lemons our entire time in the Lowcountry and gave almost all of them away.  It felt terrific to ride my bike around the island with bags of fish fillets fresh from my daily catch with some lemons.  Sometimes folks would give me something in return, like homemade pesto or fresh made cookies.  What a gas, y’all.
  5. Singles, forget about dating sites. For every person who finds the person of their dreams, there are many who drown in pools of scammers looking for money.  Instead, consider this simple formula when approaching the opposite sex.
    Women prefer men who are somewhat older and much taller, kind, funny, pleasant looking, financially comfortable.  Not a criminal or jerk.  Clean shaven or a ten day stubble. Men prefer women who are younger and shorter, smart or at least not idiotic, attractive, funny, kind and employed.
  1. Socialize with pleasant, interesting people, including plenty who are outside your normal circles. Asians, blacks, and Hispanics for example represent a wealth of opportunities for Caucasians.  In my case, I love to meet folks who live in public housing and the homeless.  Offer them a coffee, sandwich, fruit, even a smoke. All “very fine people,” if I may quote an orange man whose name shall never be mentioned outside of court.
  2. Learn to play a musical instrument. Or maybe dust off that trumpet or saxophone you played in the high school band. (Note to self: after playing clarinet through high school, it’s been waiting patiently in the closet for 52 years. How ‘bout getting reacquainted?)
  3. Try to throw a bad habit overboard. You know what they are, and if you don’t, try asking your wonderful spouse or extended family.  (Aunt Harriet may have swell suggestions.)
  4. Grab a special treat. No, not a summer home in the Hamptons or a fur coat, but how about ice cream?  (My best psychologist friend enthusiastically endorses this one.)
  5.  Consider Ricki Lee Jones’s comment, “People mistake famous people for being rich, and they mistake rich people for being happy.”
  6. Think about the dozens of ways the world is improving. Americans are half as likely to be murdered as they were 24 years ago. Nuclear stockpiles are down 85% since the Cold War. The list goes on.
  7. Be thankful for every day you wake up alive and well. No one and no power ever guarantees this, right?

There.  Whew! I feel happier just compiling this list. Now, where’s that ice cream and my new puppy?