Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking

Welcome to the HABIT page for people living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and program participants.  The HABIT Program is for individuals with MCI and their loved ones to learn the best strategies for adapting, coping, and living their best lives with MCI.

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Tue, Jun 26, 2018 12:17pm

Happiness

By Michelle Graff-Radford, HABIT Yoga Instructor, @michellegraffradford

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We all want to be “happy” but what does that actually mean and what can we do in our daily lives to be happier? Fortunately, researchers have begun to understand what really helps us to be happier and more resilient to life's challenges.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a researcher in the field of positive psychology, describes happiness in her 2007 book, The How of Happiness, as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

How to find happiness

According to Mayoclinic.org  “Only a small percentage of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and—more importantly—thoughts and behaviors that can be changed.”

The good news is that your actions and thoughts can influence your level of happiness. Below are practical activities drawn from scientific studies. Note that all of these take regular practice to be effective:

  • Gratitude
  • Social connection
  • Compassion
  • Feeling a sense of purpose
  • Living in the moment or mindfulness

Gratitude

Gratitude is an attitude – a sense of wonder and appreciation for the gifts in your life. Research shows that practicing gratitude can make you healthier and happier. Focusing on blessings can help ward off depression and build resilience in times of stress and grief.

Here are some techniques to help you to build your sense of gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Each day write down three things that went well for you. Provide an explanation of why you think it went well. How did this made you feel?
  • Count your blessings-- not sheep-- before you go to sleep.
  • Review the things you have done that day and the people in your life and feel a sense of gratitude.
  • Try a short gratitude meditation exercise by Dr. Amit Sood, a Mayo Clinic expert on happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M-TLhGKgwA

Social connection

Our connection with other people is basic to our happiness. Meaningful relationships boost happiness, cognitive abilities and health.

  • Nurture your relationships with friends and family. Express your appreciation to them for the things that you may take for granted. Try to listen to what they have to say without making judgments.

Compassion

Compassion is a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people's suffering and a desire to help.

Research shows that we are born with an inherent sense of compassion that is essential for bonding and connecting with others.

Giving or receiving compassion helps you enjoy better mental and physical health.

Here are some techniques to enhance your compassion:

  • Try daily to practice random acts of kindness, for example:
    • Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line or in traffic.
    • Take time to really listen to someone.
    • Give a sincere compliment.
  • Be compassionate to yourself. This is not self-pity. You’re simply recognizing that “this is tough, this hurts.” Give the same warmhearted compassion to yourself as you would to any friend grappling with the same challenge. Studies have shown that self-compassion has many benefits including lowering stress and increasing resilience.

Feeling a sense of purpose

Studies show that having a sense of purpose enhances happiness.

  • Make a list of activities that bring meaning to your life. Try to do one activity each day.
  • Find meaningful use of your talents through volunteer opportunities
  • Join an organization with a cause you find important.

Living in the moment or mindfulness

·         Focus on the present moment. When not in the present, the mind wanders and tends to ruminate on negative thoughts.

·         Accept your emotions. It is vital to have an emotional balance. One cannot experience happiness at the expense of avoiding other important emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger or guilt. Accepting these emotions as a part of life help us live a healthier emotional life.

·         Look for opportunities to savor the pleasures of everyday life.

·         Spend time in nature.

Invest in your happiness today by trying at least one of the techniques.  Comment below to let others know how these techniques work for you.

Wonderful techniques….now to make them a HABIT. We can not do of the above, all the time. So maybe frame the info and be reminded often will help the techniques become part of our daily life. I'm sure we all do some of these things often, maybe just not often enough on a daily basis. Bonnie

I intend to print this out, if I can, and look at this every day. Amazingly, much of this is part of my daily life. When you are busy with all of these habits, anxiety, fear, and even pain have a difficult time residing in your soul. This is an excellent article that I highly recommend to everyone. Adios, MamacitaLucita

Good information on which to focus. Take some time to sit down and determine how you might use these actions to replace some of your current reactions to events/people in your life, as well as how you might apply them to daily challenges, e.g. clutter, schedule, activities, contributions of time/money, etc. I am certainly going to do this!

Social connection and a sense of purpose have helped me since I retired. Voluntary work covers both of these because you make friends and have that lovely feeling of having contributed to society.

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