The Simple Secret To Happiness pg1

To make life a billion times better, you need to learn this single bliss trick: just pare down.

COSMO girls have a lot going on: things to do, people to see, objects to buy… And while we assume that packing it all in enriches our existence, it actually has the opposite effect. ‘Overabundance, whether it’s a surplus of stuff, commitments, or even mental clutter, can have a negative effect on your quality of life,’ says psychology professor, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar. ‘You get so overloaded that you fail to enjoy the simple pleasures right in front of you.’

Proof: Even though people are wealthier and have more choices than ever before, studies find they’re also more unsatisfied and depressed. The remedy? Realising that, when it comes to what brings happiness, less is more. We’re not just talking about purging material things (though that’s one part), but about letting go of excess worry, obligations and relationships that drain you. Here’s how to unburden to find bliss.

Don’t think: Name the happiest you’ve been in the last year. You probably didn’t say ‘Looking at my great shoes,’ even if they’re your most prized possession. ‘Research has found that once people’s basic needs are met, having more stuff doesn’t increase happiness,’ says psychologist Dr Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness (Vintage). Cut down on clutter and you’ll have more room to enjoy yourself. Try this:
Buy memories instead of things: When deciding whether to spend your cash on an item or an experience – say, a new designer dress versus a weekend trip with friends – go with the experience, says Gilbert. Most people think the outfit is the better choice because a getaway ends. But the trip will always stay perfect in your mind, while the item (suit, shoes, whatever) will eventually lose its lustre and be taken for granted.
Live fast: Spend less time getting ready for your life and more time living it by using ‘item rotation,’ says psychologist Dr Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (Harper Perennial). If you have 10 work skirts, hide five of them so you have fewer choices to stress about each day. Once a month, swap them, and get rid of any you didn’t miss while they were hidden.
Do a digital detox: Being hooked to your BB, iPad and computer means constant pressure to stay in contact… without any face-to-face time. So, go on an occasional tech fast. Don’t message people, turn off your cell when you’re with someone, and only reply to urgent e-mails. ‘You’ll connect more with the people around you and feel more a part of your life,’ says life coach, Dr Timothy J Moore.