Maria Shriver went searching for the keys to happiness (understandably) and spent six years interviewing residents of 14 countries to create a documentary called Happy.
In it, she reports on the astounding ability of people to find happiness in the oddest places and celebrates its remarkable emotional and physical benefits.
Additionally, the United Nations World Happiness Report reveals that nations, like people, thrive when they're happy. (The U.S. ranks 17th out of more than 150 countries; Canada is sixth.)
What influences a country's happiness? Its citizens have a healthy life expectancy, others to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, a spirit of generosity, freedom from corruption and sufficient earnings. Much like what's needed for you to find joy in your everyday life.
So if you haven't yet, start your happiness project by getting a workout partner; that's a double reward: friendship (essential for happiness) plus better health (a great mood booster).
Then go for actual happy meals: None of the Five Food Felons (added sugars and sugar syrups, trans and saturated fats, and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole); and eat plenty of healthy fats from salmon and ocean trout, olive and canola oils, and nuts (especially walnuts) and mood-boosting fresh produce. It keeps gut bacteria balanced, which affects dopamine production.
And last, but far from least, spend more time with those you love: Intimacy is the glue that holds happiness together. You'll have less stress, fewer health problems and live longer. Not a bad payoff for having a good time!
© 2013 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate