The Simple Secret To Happiness pg3

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.

It’s basic maths: You’ll be more satisfied if you plan and accomplish two things a day than if you get three shoddily done but feel like a failure for the 18 others you didn’t get to. ‘People make themselves crazy because they can’t bear the thought of possibly missing out on something,’ says Schwartz. ‘Then they’re constantly harried and don’t really enjoy anything.’ Cut down this way:
• Clear your calendar: Leave at least one weeknight evening free each week. You’ll fill that slot with something you actually enjoy, rather than an obligation, which makes you happier with life.
• Use the dread test: Before you commit to something, ask yourself whether you’d say yes if it were taking place tonight. If it makes you groan, decline because you won’t want to do it when the time comes either. People think about the future abstractly, but we’re more realistic when we consider the right now, says Gilbert.
• Say no nicely: Instead of stressing about how to turn down friends (and acquaintances), just say, ‘I’d love to, but I have a bunch of new things happening that I need to focus on.’

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