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Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the holiday to celebrate love. As a caregiver, that gives you the opportunity to celebrate with the loved one in your care and explore the positive reasons behind your commitment. It also is a good day to think about happiness and what it means to you. Happiness is a very important emotion for caregivers and seniors alike and here are some thoughts on how to find it, nurture it and keep it.

Happiness is an emotion that actually activates the sympathetic nervous system - the one that controls our “flight or fight” response.It makes us laugh, feel less stress and more comfort. Happiness can improve our health and overall sense of well-being as reported by the Harvard School of Public Health: “A 2007 study followed more than 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74 for 20 years. It found that emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

Sustained happiness for you and the loved one in your care doesn’t come from material possessions. Instead, psychologists have found that happiness is a decision. It is the result of practiced steps each day to build a life of happiness. In our consumer-oriented society that can seem too simple. Who doesn’t want a new car or a bigger house? Psychologists argue that those things aren’t a true source of happiness because they are temporary. The goal is to be happy from within.

Here are some of the things that you can practice to increase a sense of happiness for yourself as a caregiver, and for the senior you love. They are general in nature because specific choices are different in each person’s life. However, this is a good road map to follow:

1. Focus on the opportunities that exist daily to experience happiness.

  • Build into your life – step by step – those things that give you happiness.
  • Rid your life – little by little – of those things that bring you frustration, displeasure, and suffering.

2. Be grateful for and savor moments of happiness, thereby prolonging the original experience itself.

3. Consciously make the decision to be happy. In doing so, you will spur yourself to take action to make your decision a reality. Determine to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself and your loved one a dose of daily happiness.

4. Commit to seek happiness throughout your life.

  • See every day as an opportunity to be happy.
  • Each morning think about the people and activities that you enjoy during the day.
  • Pay conscious attention to enjoying each and every moment of pleasure.
  • Take the time to thoughtfully engage in activities that will most likely give you pleasure each day.

5. Practice these things regularly and you will build a strong happiness discipline.

When you think of happiness in this way, it becomes achievable and a daily practice that can be woven into your work as a caregiver. It also provides a new approach to creating happiness for your loved one.

Have you discovered ways to inject happiness into the life of your loved one? If so, we would like to hear from you and share your successes.

Learn about our in home senior care services here.

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