When it comes to the perils of give-me-itis, it's easy to be “Clueless,” like Alicia Silverstone's character Cher, and believe owning the latest fashion brings enduring happiness. So not! Happiness really isn't for sale, and just thinking about consuming can be a downer. Even the kindest-hearted folks can turn antisocial and self-centered when surrounded by a media environment that says “You gotta have this NOW.” What actually follows is depression and isolation.
So, what's a genuine happiness formula? Being generous of spirit; being able to count on others; and focusing on what you have, not what you don't. How to do that?
1. Volunteer -- at school, the library, any organization that needs a helping hand. Research shows you'll live longer and younger. That should make you happier!
2. Count your blessings. Really. Count them. You need to become conscious of them to appreciate them.
3. Get a workout partner. That's right; connections and health are the strongest predictors of happiness. So get going!
4. Create nutritious, five-food-felon-free family dinners; this boosts your happiness two ways. First you cut out fattening foods by eliminating added sugars, syrups, saturated fats and trans fats, and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole -- heavy hips and a heavy heart make for the blues. Second, you'll create family bonding; that increases your sense of security and identity.
5. Have an adventure: Time (and money) spent doing something brings greater happiness than money spent on getting things.
6. And don't forget that major joy: intimacy. It could just be a talk with a friend, a hug, a cuddle or a shared passion.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.