World Happiness Party
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     Happiness is everyone's goal!  A new science of happiness promises to unite all humanity around this achievable end.  Is it a cult?  A commercial venture?  No.  It's a rigorous branch of psychology which studies how people thrive.  Much has been learned which can make you happier now.
     Today's scientists are cautious before giving advice.  No single formula works for everyone.  Nonetheless, current research suggests 7 main ways to increase life fulfillment:

     The most effective way to boost happiness is to enrich your social life.  Other people draw you out of yourself and cancel self-doubting rumination.  When you make friends happy, they make you happier.
     Here's a tip for being more sociable:  when someone tells you good news, don't answer blandly or look at the negative side.  Respond enthusiastically and positively.  Practice this on someone.  Do it until you notice a change in your pattern of response.  In healthy relationships, constructive responses outnumber others by 3-to-1.
you are an extrovert or introverted, finding a meaningful connection with others is the main road to happiness.  
     Physical exercise is surprisingly important to happiness.  It's part what it means to be alive.  Motivation to exercise often comes from other people.  Join an exercise club and enjoy social rewards as a bonus!

     One way to increase long-term happiness is to experience joy in the here and now.  Think of it like a long-distance runner strengthening her muscles by running short-distance sprints.  
     Smiling.  Activating the smile muscles makes you feel better even when the smile is faked.  And smiling connects you to other people.  Wear a smile next time you're in public and see if people don't treat you nicer.
     Laughter.  Laughter relieves stress and increases resistance to illness and pain.  Even fake, forced laughter produces these results.  
     Count your blessings.  At the end of each day, write down 3 things that went well that day.  They can be small.  Give a reason for each.  This alleviates depression and stress.
     Gratitude.  Thank someone for something they did that was important to you -- even if it happened long ago.  You'll both feel lifted.
     Optimism adds 10 years to one's life (on average).  It can be learned.  If you habitually grumble when things don't go your way, dispute your pessimistic assessment in these ways:
     Find evidence that it isn't so bad after all.  
     Find an alternative (more benign) explanation of the event.  
     Find evidence that the negatives are only temporary
     Don't let your whole life be affected.  (Don't "catastrophize")
     Blame bad events on causes outside yourself.
     Take credit for good events.  
     Question the usefulness of pessimistic beliefs.

     (If you don't have time for disputation, at least distract yourself from paralyzing pessimistic thoughts.  Wear a rubber band around your wrist to remind yourself of this.  When a pessimistic mood comes on, snap yourself with the rubber band to "snap out of it".)

Often the best way to increase personal happiness is not to aim at it directly but to help others.  Donating 2-to-3 hours per week to worthy causes can boost your self-esteem.  That's because society bestows approval on the volunteer, the Samaritan, the altruist.  
     "Philanthropy" is a Greek word meaning "lover of humanity".  Anyone who works for the common good is a philanthropist.  Dedicating yourself to larger causes (such as world happiness) erases fear and anger and puts you in a sociable, creative frame of mind.  Religions have long used this principle.  Now its benefits are confirmed by science.

    People with a strong sense of purpose (such as a religious faith or a philosophy of life) tend to be happier than others.  They solve problems proactively and can absorb life's ups and downs.
      World happiness is the greatest purpose there is.  Religions have striven for this goal for centuries.  Dedicating yourself to
the greatest good can be life-transforming.
     Chronic stress occurs because the body often doesn't know how to relax even when the initial triggering source of stress is gone.  Symptoms include irritability, anxiety, sleep disorders, hypertension, chain smoking, over-eating, and depression.  For a free guide to stress reduction, call: 1-800-374-7428.

      Answer this question: "In general, how happy or unhappy do you usually feel?" 
    10. Extremely happy (ecstatic, fantastic)
      9. Very happy (feeling generally elated)
      8. Pretty happy (spirits high, cheerful)
      7. Mildly happy (feeling fairly good)
      6. Slightly happy (a bit above normal)
      5. Neutral (neither happy nor unhappy)
      4. Slightly unhappy (a bit below normal)
      3. Mildly unhappy (noticeably below par)
      2. Pretty unhappy ("blue")
      1. Very unhappy (depressed, very low)     
      0. Extremely unhappy (utterly depressed)

The average American adult scores 6.9.  Your score might fluctuate from day to day.  For more accurate tests go to www.authentichappiness.  


     The belief that money brings happiness is largely an illusion.  After one's basic needs are met, money contributes little to happiness.  The rich are only a teeny bit happier than the middle class.  And lottery winners usually return to
their previous level of happiness within a few months.  Why, then, do people with enough money so often want more?

Americans of all classes may be suffering from affluenza, the addiction to buying things.  Affluenza is "an epidemic of stress, overwork, waste, indebtedness and feelings of worthlessness caused by the dogged pursuit of more and more material goods."  Symptoms include:  shopping addiction, possession overload, shortage of time, waste, debt, and overwork.  As a remedy, many people are discovering the wisdom of voluntary simplicity. 
     Those at the bottom of the economic ladder -- a homeless person, an impoverished single mother, or a sweatshop worker in India -- face hurdles to happiness because they don't have their basic needs met.  Can wealth be distributed more sanely? 

     The science of happiness can help us make better political choices.  Here's one tip:  When fear and anger are behind political decisions, choices tend to be limited to a narrow field of options.  Positive thoughts open up a wider, more creative range of choice.  Another discovery:  Participation in democracy makes people happier.
     The World Happiness Party isn't a party in the political sense.  It doesn't
take positions or advocate policies.  Instead, members are encouraged to craft their own solutions to the problems of poverty, war, crime, corruption, terrorism and pollution.

      "There is no conflict between science and faith," explains Rev. Billy Graham. "Science deals with physical reality, with things we can see and touch.  But science can't tell us about spiritual reality -- things that can't be seen or touched."  Because they deal with different spheres, science and religion aren't antagonists but partners.   
     Scientific research has confirmed the health benefits of many religious beliefs and practices:  forgiveness, thankfulness, prayer, charity, volunteerism and faith in a higher purpose.  When religions clash (such as in the Middle East), the science of happiness can find common ground between them.  

     The World Happiness Party is a non-partisan organization dedicated to spreading information about the science of happiness.  Founded in 2009 at Western New Mexico University, its members believe in three things:  
     Happiness.  The desire for a fulfilling life unites all humans regardless of ethnicity, religion and social class.  One person's happiness need not cancel out another's.  The enlightened pursuit of happiness removes social conflict.  
     World Reach.  Assisting those who need it most assures that no corner of the globe will be left out.  Currently, the W.H.P. is aiding troubled regions in Africa, the Middle East and Mexico.
Science.  The science of happiness can revitalize the human race.  It doesn't have all the answers, but it's a good start.  Science is an endeavor everyone can agree upon regardless of religion or culture.

     Does our talk about happiness strike you as goofy?  Here are 3 possible reasons:  
     1)  Maybe you're a depressive realist, a person who habitually looks on the dark side.  Skepticism has its place!  Many leaders of the happiness movement are realists and skeptics as well.  So we value your viewpoint! 
     2)  Maybe you equate happiness science with glib positive thinking which says "changing your attitude changes your life."  The science of happiness is more realistic and recognizes that happiness is complex.
     3)  Maybe you don't want to be more joyful.  Inside each of us is something like a thermostat set at a certain level of positive mood.  To move above or below this level causes discomfort.  Don't readjust your daily thermostat if you don't want to.  A type of happiness which could interest you is long-term fulfillment and well-being.
Here are creative, rewarding, fun things you might do:
     -- Start an exercise, walking, sports or laughter club
     -- Community projects involving art, music, etc..
     -- Mentor youth; care for those in need
     -- Political activism for the greatest good
     -- Form a science of happiness study circle
     -- Aid impoverished people around the world
     -- Compose a testament of your thoughts and/or work

Need assistance?  Want to keep informed?  Join the World Happiness Party? Call: 1-800-374-7428.

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