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Smiley faces. Graphic by Holly Jewell.
Graphic: Holly Jewell

Five ways to pursue happiness

It’s official, belonging to a faith community contributes to health and happiness. In fact, the keys to the good life identified by mental health experts pretty much echo the Biblical imperatives to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Here are five top tips for happiness:

1Give

Generosity is beneficial to your physical and mental health. Making someone else happy not only makes you feel better, it delivers measurable improvements in some health conditions. Doctors suggest that moving attention from ourselves may reduce exposure to stress hormones. Giving also empowers those who receive—if you need hard evidence, ask the folk at UnitingWorld.

2Connect

Your mother was right to point out that it’s not all about you. Social researchers say that looking outward instead of inward is fundamental to giving life meaning and keeping perspective. And for those struggling with isolation and loss, re-engaging in community may begin with rediscovering the joy of helping others. Is your church providing opportunities for everyone, regardless of age or ability, to serve?

3Have faith

Believing that we are connected to something larger than ourselves and that our lives have meaning is an intrinsic human need. Research shows that an active spiritual life can have physical benefits as well as providing hope and optimism, key factors in fighting a range of illnesses.

4Love mercy

Expressing gratitude for the good things in our lives doesn’t stop at the prayers of thanksgiving. The scriptures remind Christians that love and mercy are two sides of the same coin, and health professionals agree. Anger and resentment are very aging; it’s not a good look on you, darling.

5Be engaged

Be mindful of what’s happening here and now rather than worrying about the past or the future. Eckhart Tolle writes “The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the only factor that remains constant. Life is now.” Quit reading about happiness and go and talk to a real person. Go on, the list is all finished.

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