Many people look forward to retiring to Florida, enjoying an abundance of sunshine and retirement bliss, but it turns out, living in the Sunshine State doesn’t make everyone happy.
In fact, according to a study conducted by real estate blog Movoto, Florida topped the list when it came to the most stressed out states in America. Part of the reason is the state ranked as the third worst when it came to the percentage of the population without health insurance (25.8 percent) and unemployment rate (11.3 percent).
The criteria in determining stress included the percentage of population with a commute longer than 20 minutes, unemployment, hours worked, population density, percentage of income spent on housing, and percentage of population without health insurance.
Keep in mind that much of this data was derived from statistics that were at least several years old, so it may not be entirely accurate. Not only that, but different things cause stress to different people, and when it comes down to it, we’re all responsible for our own happiness. Where we live may play a part, but it certainly doesn’t make or break how you really feel – that’s up to you.
Focus on strengthening social relationships
Many studies have found that the happiest people tend to have the strongest social connections, including the famed Harvard Grant Study which followed a group of men for 75 years.
If there is just one thing you can do to be happier, it’s to spend more time with people you love. The Grant Study found there was one particular question that was able to predict whether someone would be alive, and happy, at 80 years old: “Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to?”
Surrounding yourself with positive, inspiring people you enjoy being around may be key to a long and happy life.
Learn to accept and love yourself
None of us are perfect. True perfection is actually accepting your imperfections and remembering it’s okay to be you, just as you are. Accept all that you like and what you don’t like to stop the struggle within your mind and avoid rejecting yourself. It might help to stick post-its in various places where you’ll frequently see them that read: “I love and accept myself the way I am.”
Get a different perspective
When things seem especially bad, remember that no matter what your current situation is, there are many people who are far worse off than you. Life can be hard when you’re feeling down, making problems seem almost insurmountable – and we often try to convince ourselves they are.
Try to make time to volunteer as it can offer a new perspective, seeing other people deal with difficult challenges and somehow hanging in there. Plus it might just make you see your life in an entirely different light.
Plan your happiness
Don’t sit around waiting for happiness to come to you. Plan activities that make you happy – schedule them in just like you would any task. When you write something down on a calendar, you’re more likely to follow through.
Take care of your body
It’s hard to feel happy when you’re in poor health. Neglecting your health can be a quick road to misery and even depression. When you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, take a walk outside to boost your energy levels and dissipate stress. Avoid filling anxiety or emptiness with junk foods – in the long run it will just make you feel worse.
An overwhelming amount of scientific research has shown that meditating actually changes the circuits in parts of the brain, helping it to form positive emotions like happiness, joy and enthusiasm.
If you don’t believe it, try it. You can start with just five minutes a day, sitting silently, focusing on your breath and eventually working up to 30 minutes daily.
No matter which state you live in – or what state your mind is in now – remember that happiness is a choice you can make!
-The Alternative Daily