My 10 Tenets of Happiness

Happiness. It’s a subject that has been discussed and debated for ages by everyone from ancient philosophers like Socrates to contemporary spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama. And recently, scientists and sociologists have jumped on board, conducting study after study in search of a way to quantify our happy days. And what research shows, time and time again, is that personal happiness has a lot to do with intentional behaviors—in other words, things that we can control! Happiness is highly influenced by our choices and voluntary behaviors. Here are a few well- documented ways to cultivate happiness in your home:

 Photography: Erica Hampton  

Photography: Erica Hampton  

1. WORK OUT FOR WELLNESS. Exercise releases dopamine and oxytocin, chemicals that are the feel-good hormones. When you exercise, your body is rewarding you for doing something that it should be do- ing. Your body is telling you, yes, this is good. More please! Keep it comin’. I am a huge believer in the connection between fitness and happiness. Even in my last months of pregnancy, I still made it a priority to wake up and work out every single day, even if just for twenty minutes. I always, always felt better.

2. BE A SOCIAL BUTTERFLY. Don’t let your inner hermit take over when things are tough. When we are depressed or down, we tend to want to hide out and retreat. Resist the urge! Instead, get out there and surround yourself with positive people. You know who they are. Just being around them makes you feel better. Also, pushing yourself to do for others can help you step outside your worries. Helping others always ends up in a total boomerang effect by boosting the way you feel about yourself!

3. LIVE IN THE PRESENT. “I’ll be happy as soon as x or y happens” never works. You have to choose to be happy now. Choose to love yourself and your life and to focus on the present. When I begin to worry about the future, all I have to do is get in bed and read a book to my baby girl. It centers me and brings me back to what really matters. “Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be.” at Jesus Jones song anyone? No?

4. SET ACHIEVABLE GOALS. Always be working for something. Setting and achieving realistic goals creates an incredible positive cycle. When something works out and you achieve a goal, it feels amazing. And even when things don’t work out and you face a setback, you will feel better knowing you gave your all.

5. THINK POSITIVE THOUGHTS. Expect the best. Hope for the best. Work for the best. Shoot for the stars. We put up a sign in Brooks’s bedroom that says good morning 

world because that’s how we want to encourage him to start his day, with positivity. Wake up and welcome what is in store!

6. ACCEPT WHAT CANNOT BE CHANGED. This sounds like a twelve-step program. But the reality is, we don't have control over certain things in our lives. We’ve got to let go of the idea that we can control everything. There are sad things in this world. Try your best. But acknowledge what can’t be changed, and accept it. 

7. TREAT OTHERS WELL. The better you treat those around you, the better you will feel about yourself. It’s just true.

8. BE GRATEFUL. Grateful people are happier people. They focus on what they have, not what they don’t. Whatever you choose to focus on will expand. So focus on the good stuff.

9. KEEP LEARNING. Did you know that, like exercise, learning stimulates endorphins? When you exercise your brain, it rewards you. Learning boosts self-awareness and confidence. So pick up a book. Go to a lecture. Listen to a podcast. Boost your brain activity and your attitude.

10. DO FOR OTHERS. As human beings, we are social animals and we are wired to help one another. It feels good! I always feel better when I step outside of myself and do things for others—I actually get a kind of high. Research shows that the act of helping others produces all those good-vibe hormones too. Whenever possible, teach your children to care for others as well. If they love animals, but you don’t have a dog, volunteer with them at the local SPCA to walk dogs. When you find something you can do together as a family, it’s even better. During the holidays, we gather the children’s gently used toys and a few new ones, and we take them to a local shelter together so that they can be used and enjoyed by a new family.

 Photography: Amy Neunsinger

Photography: Amy Neunsinger

I hope you all enjoyed this passage from my Healthy, Happy, Home chapter from Everyday Chic. If you want more, you can

See below for more links to excerpts from my book, Everyday Chic:

Tips For Photographing Your Family | The Most Common Party Planning Mistakes With Stefanie Cove | How To Host An Everyday Chic & Intimate Dinner Party With Friends | 3 Healthy & Easy Superkiddo Snacks

SHOP ITEMS THAT HELP ME FULFILL MY 10 TENETS OF HAPPINESS:

Let me know what keeps you happy in the comments below! Talk next time. 

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Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.