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This headline certainly sounds paradoxical. But while all the choices available to you nowadays may offer more freedom than ever before, they may also exact quite a cost on your psyche, according to psychologist Barry Schwartz in this compelling video.
Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice, believes, rightly, that the “freedom of choice” provided by limitless options escalates expectations, and therefore introduces indecision and unhappiness into the equation.
He believes happiness may be easier than you think; that by simply limiting your choices and options, you can increase your level of happiness.
Live Science Magazine takes a less complex look at happiness, offering these simple keys to give your mood a much needed boost:
Give it away
After performing good deeds, people are happier and feel their life has more purpose. It only takes $5 spent on others to make you happier on a given day, according to a recent study. And selfless acts can also help your marriage become a more enjoyable experience.
A 2005 study that tracked mood changes in dialysis patients found they were in a good mood most of the time, despite having their blood cleaned three times a week. However, healthy patients envisioned a miserable life when asked to imagine adhering to such a demanding schedule.
As Winston Churchill said,
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Consistent exercise can help people battling depression. Exercise improves your state of mind in part by affecting your body’s levels of two chemicals: cortisol and endorphins.
Cortisol, which is produced in response to stress, increases blood pressure and blood sugar, weakens your immune response and can lead to organ inflammation and damage. But working out burns cortisol, restoring your body’s normal levels. Exercise can also cause your brain to release endorphins, your body’s natural pain relievers.
If you still find yourself down in the dumps, just give it some time. A study of 2 million people from 80 nations found that depression is most common among adults in their mid-40’s. But with age, humans are more inclined to filter out the negatives while focusing on what they enjoy.
TED.com August 13, 2008
Live Science August 22, 2008