Mark Berber, a Toronto psychiatrist, uses happiness therapy in his 30-year practice to rally patients with often debilitating mental-health disorders ranging from anxiety to severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
March 20 is the United Nations’ second-annual International Day of Happiness, established to promote the theory that cheerfulness improves mental and physical wellness and also fosters economic prosperity.
Happiness comes down to nurturing a subjective sense of well-being. Here are his tips to happiness:
- Nurture healthy relationships “Married men and women are happiest,” asserts Berber. “If you’re in an unhappy marriage you shouldn’t stay in it. People in unhappy marriages have a much higher risk of depression, increased risk of high blood pressure, and women in particular have a greater probability of heart disease.”
- Pet-owners are generally happier, less lonely “Support from a pet is equivalent to support you get from parents and siblings. The one-year mortality rate following a heart attack is 1 per cent with a pet, and 7 per cent with no pet.”
- Say thank you and be thankful “Be aware of kind acts from others and don’t take people for granted,” he says.
- Be kind. Be a volunteer “It links you with people, and nurturing all your relationships makes you happier.”
- Forgive and let go “A lot of people have bad things happen in their lives.… Let go and move on.”
- Exercise “Physical activity improves your mood, reduces your anxiety and increases longevity.”
- Find meaning and engagement in your life “Live in the moment. We’re too focused on what will happen tomorrow. Don’t put off your happiness until tomorrow.”