Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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What Makes Us Happy?

Think you know what makes people feel happy and enjoy life? Weight loss or becoming wealthy don’t cut it. Conclusions in a Parade Magazine article (“Sunny Side Up” by Colleen Oakley, 7/31/11) might surprise you. Some highlights.

According to University of Denver researchers, folks who highly value happiness have, “on average, 17 more symptoms of depression than those who don’t.” Seems backwards, huh? Not really. Happiness is like self-trust, self-esteem, and feeling deserving: when you have these qualities, you rarely think about them. Happy people take their outlook for granted. They don’t value it less than unhappy people do; it’s simply a given. Unhappy people are the ones who think about and strive for happiness!

Another interesting factoid is the conclusion that “happiness is about 50% genetic, 10% influenced by life circumstances, and 40% influenced by how you think and act every day.” Heredity can set us up for seeing the glass as half empty or full, but nearly an equal amount of happiness—a whopping 40%—derives from your beliefs, which is why I’m always harping on creating a healthy, rational belief system. Note that only 10% of happiness is dictated by circumstance. For those of you who tend to think of yourselves as victims because of a dysfunctional childhood, trauma, or bad breaks, think again.

Regarding who’s happier, optimists or pessimists, here’s a shocker: “It turns out that expecting the worst can actually make you less prone to depression, particularly during difficult events such as an illness, a divorce, or the death of a loved one.” Why? If you have low expectations, you’ll likely experience less disappointment. I believe the key is to hold realistic expectations, not too high and not too low, and recognize that any outcome is possible. Hoping for the best and expecting the worst covers all the bases.

One suggestion affecting happiness is not new: taking a daily fish oil supplement can be highly effective in improving your mood. “Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which increase your brain’s ability to receive mood-boosting signals from ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine,” says Teresa Aubele, coauthor of TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO BE HAPPY. I’ll add to that taking B complex vitamins daily.

From what you’ve just learned, what can you do to enhance your happiness—change your beliefs to be more positive, develop realistic expectations, and/or take fish oil and B vitamins? Make whatever changes you need and you’ll be happy you did.

The Power of Parents
Planning Ahead with Food

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.