Take these 9 simple steps to joy!

Take these 9 simple steps to joy!

by Kate Lowenstein from the Huffington Post

A few years ago, Debbie Jankowski went hunting for a way to bring her life new joy. She found the solution in her bank account. "I had always been thrifty, but I decided it was time to spend money on things that would broaden my world," says Jankowski, who's based in Philadelphia.

She splurged on sightseeing in Ireland and jungle-roaming in Costa Rica with her husband, along with a yoga retreat closer to home. "These outings have refreshed me and given me perspective," she says.

New research confirms what Jankowski discovered: Money can buy happiness — if you spend wisely. We asked experts to explain this and other glee strategies, none of which require rose-colored glasses or doing anything with life's lemons.

1. Buy Some Bliss — Really

FYI, you won't find it at the mall. "Purchasing things like televisions, clothes and coffee machines won't make you happier overall — but buying experiences maximizes happiness," says Michael Norton, Ph.D., associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. Research shows that people who purchased concert tickets, a series of crochet lessons or simply a Tuesday night dinner out were happier than those who spent their money on tangible goods.

For one, it's because we humans tend to get maximum pleasure and vitality from social bonding. Yet the payoffs start before you leave home. "The anticipation of an experience can be as valuable a source of happiness as the experience itself," Norton notes. "And for months afterward, recalling the event continues to make you happy." The cherished-memories effect can even work for outings that went awry: Other research finds that people tend to remember things as having been better than they were (which is why people will pay good money to see The Hangover Part III).

Not that there's anything wrong with a little materialism every now and then, Norton says. But the emphasis is on now and then: "We get sick of even the most amazing things in life if we have them all the time." Another strategy: Buy now, consume later. Economists talk about the "pain of paying" effect — the negative feelings of parting with our hard-earned cash. The more time that lapses between shelling out for something and getting it, the happier you'll be with it. That's why Norton preorders books on Amazon: "When it shows up two months later, it feels free!"

2. Get Older

Happiness dips when women are about 40 and comes roaring back as they approach 50, finds a study of 500,000 women and men in 72 countries. (For men the slump typically hits at 52.) Scientists haven't yet explained the bliss boomerang, but anyone familiar with what it's like to make dinner, field five PTA calls and pay 2,300 bills in one night might have a theory. "Women in their 40s tend to put themselves last among all the demands they face," says Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City. "They get squeezed between the challenges of raising kids and caring for their aging parents, and may feel that life is passing them by."

As kids leave the nest, women have time to nurture themselves again — although there are easy ways to up your happiness right now. "I remind mothers of the safety tip given in airplanes: Put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you can help those in your care," Diller says. Schedule a daily "me" time "that does not budge for anyone or anything, except emergencies," she continues.

You also want to prioritize stuff that truly brings you joy, whether it's Saturday-morning gardening or a weekly racquetball date with your partner. For Carrie Jablonow in Scottsdale, Ariz., focusing on only her most meaningful friendships has helped. "I don't have a few spare moments to give to someone who doesn't make me happy — even responding to a text," she says. "I also no longer bother with uncomfortable clothes. Good-bye, skinny jeans!"

…keep reading for more hapiness and joy – HERE