22 Ways Cats Make People Happier (And Healthier)!

This guest post (and amazing infographic) was written by Emily of Catological. Pop over and check it out!

If you’re like me (or any human on the planet, really), you’ve probably had some negative thoughts creep into your mind about why things are going poorly, or why someone was mean to you, or why you aren’t living the life you always dreamed of yet.

Negativity can creep into even the sunniest minds, darkening your day like an overbearing cloud.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have something to fall back on when you’re in a mood like this? Something that you could count on to make you feel better?

Well, I don’t know how to tell this to you, but something like this already exists.

Cats!

Yes, seriously. Cats are insanely good at solving our problems, and have been scientifically proven to make our lives happier and healthier.

From helping us recover from negative moods, to relieving stress, cats can turn our frowns upside down. Plus, you get the added benefit of lower chances of heart disease and other horrible health-related maladies.

We started looking for some information to back up these findings, and stumbled across more and more reasons why cats are actually super healthy for you physically and emotionally.

At the end of the day, we came away with 22 ways cats help make us happier and healthier, all of which you can see in the infographic below, or by visiting the original post here, where we include sources and a bit more explanation for each point.

So, want to make things less crappy? Get a cat!

Ways Cats Make Humans Happier

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A Tiny Fitness Giraffe

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It’s pretty well agreed upon that exercise boosts your mood. It releases dopamine, and helps you sleep better which all equals feeling better. And who can look at a cute animal without feeling happier, amirite? They even make you more productive at work.

Now a fitness app combines your need for movement with your love of adorable stuff in one happiness generating exercise package called Tep. When you download the app, you’re given a darling (digital) pet giraffe you need to feed and care for – think the Tamagotchi pets of the 90’s. But here’s the catch. In order to earn essentials like food and drink for your little guy, and less essential decorations like hats and footwear (!!!), you’ve got to get moving.

Walking, running, and biking all snag you points you can use to keep the little buddy alive. So next time you think about skipping your workout for some quality Netflix time with your couch, you don’t need to rely on will power alone. If you don’t, your happiness, and your tiny giraffe that’s depending on you will croak.

5 Ways Being Selfish is Actually a Good Thing

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In our society (or at least NYC), many people pride themselves on how busy they are. It’s considered a badge of honor to have too.dang.much.to.do. And, I am 1000% guilty of overscheduling myself (even if it’s all with really fun things). The modern lady has work happy hours, ALL the wedding events, social time with friends, and – if that’s the life path she’s chosen, a spouse and kids to fit into the mix. All those responsibilities suck up the precious free time left after work, and can often lead to putting your own needs on the back burner while you run around catering to other people’s – even if you truly enjoy everything you’re doing.

We can all remember a time when we RSVP’d yes to an engagement when we were dead tired and broke just because we love our bestie. Or even when we had managed a few quiet moments to ourselves, FOMO struck and we got up and off the couch.

I came across this post on Mind Body Green explaining why putting yourself first is not only important – but crucial! – to happiness, and I think they’re onto something. Take back some time for yourself, and turn that FOMO into JOMO with these five steps.

  1. Pamper Yourself: Think about it, would you rather give someone you care about a worn-down, tired version of yourself, or the you who has blocked out time to take a nap and go to the gym?
  2. Don’t Volunteer: In other words, wait for someone to ask for your help before throwing yourself into action. Then actually think about it. Do you really have the time, energy and resources? If not, is there some other help you can recommend, and still feel like a good friend?
  3. Take a Time Out: Of course we can all push through a cold, or mild sickness if we’re not on our deathbeds, but should we? Taking a well-timed day off can make you feel better, and act happier, which will have a positive influence on everyone around you.
  4. Do What You Love: Don’t let your schedule be so driving it’s soul sucking. Don’t get stuck in a position you hate. Keep moving towards the things you like.
  5. Work as a Team: Instead of trying to do it all yourself, work with all those great people you’ve surrounded yourself with. Remember that it’s ok, and often beneficial for the project if you have more intelligent minds working on it.

What do you do to make time for yourself when you’re in over your head?

Image by Roman Pfeiffer.

#100HappyDays

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A couple weeks ago, I started noticing the #100HappyDays hashtag popping up here and there. I didn’t think too much of it, since some people can be real hashtag abusers. But after it kept coming up, associated with special moments, I was curious. It turns out it’s not just an inane hashtag misuse, but a challenge- one that I actually really like the idea of. The home website asks you to simply be happy 100 days in a row, anticipating that most people will instantly think they can’t, or don’t have time (I mean, that’s practically a third of a year!). Instead of giving up before you begin, it challenges you to stop bragging about your packed calendar, and take a few moments each day for yourself to notice a happy moment – something 71% of people couldn’t manage to fit in. Then, you simply have to take a photo of the thing, person, sunshine that gave you that warm fuzzy feeling.

In our photo-happy times, this seems pretty easy, right? Everyone is taking pictures of everything, and posting them instantly to facebook/twitter/Instagram for the world to see. While there’s lots of negative things that could be said about this, #100HappyDays notes that this is not a competition, or a way to show off – if that’s the spirit of your photos, then you’re missing the point of the challenge. No one will know if you’re trying to make people jealous or cheating but you, but you’re the one who won’t be happier for it. The goal is to draw attention to the little things (using the social media platform of your choice), and practice daily gratitude to be in a better mood, be aware of what makes you happy, realize how lucky you are to live the life you lead, or to become more optimistic. If you choose, you can register on the website, and receive a little 100 page book that has all of your happy moments after you complete the challenge. Then, when you need a reminder of what’s good in your life, you can simply flip through your moments of happiness.

Romance Makes Everything Sweeter

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If there are two words that are thrown together often, they’re love and sweetness. We call our significant others sweet or sweetie. We gush about how sweet being in love is, and are often literally gifted sweet things, especially on Valentines day. Now, according to a study cited in the March issue of Women’s Health magazine, it turns out that being in love may actually make you perceive things as sweeter. In a study authored by Kai Qin Chan, researchers found that when participants thought about love before consuming chocolate, they rated the treat as sweeter than the same snack eaten right after writing about jealousy. The warm fuzzy feelings you get when thinking about your boyfriend or the chocolate covered strawberries in your fridge active the same part of the brain that anticipates rewards, which may make food taste better. So next time you are indulging, try thinking about love and romance before digging in. It just might make that chocolate cake a little bit more delicious.

Let’s All Celebrate International Happiness Day

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Today is the second annual UN International Happiness Day. It seems appropriate, right? It’s the first day of spring, the sun is shining, and it’s a little warmer than it’s been. I know I have been in a good mood. So let’s take a few minutes and appreciate some of the good things going on.

First, there’s these 10 things to be happy about. Then I’ll just go ahead and add some of my own. My favorite fast food place, Taco Bell, is launching it’s breakfast menu, and today they announced some of the things that will be on it– waffle wrapped tacos, AM crunch wraps, little cinnamon balls stuffed with things. I keep waffling (see what I did there?) about if this stuff is going to be amazingly good or amazingly gross, but I walk by it on my way to work from the gym in the morning and I know one day I am going to cave and try everything. There’s some new evidence that tequila can help you lose weight. If that’s not an excuse for a margarita and some fun, I don’t know what is! Starbucks is going to start serving alcohol, so when that lame-o asks you out for a coffee, you can have the glass of wine you really wanted in the first place. Virtual Reality gaming is pretty close to being a real thing, and even if video games aren’t your bag, you can appreciate that it’s a cool moment. There’re some intriguing new leads in the missing plan case, because you know you have been obsessively tracking it. It’s the first full day of March Madness, so now you have an excuse to taunt your coworkers and place bets on a bracket.

What are you feeling happy about today?

When You’re Tired, Take a Break

puppyI am a planner, a doer, a socializer, and I live in NYC –a city where you can arguably never run out of things to do, people to see, or new stuff to try. That combination, while pretty wonderful most of the time, can get pretty darn exhausting at others. Sometimes, after months of feeling like a weekend without days and nights full of activities is a failure, I am run  down, tired out, and weary of everything I typically enjoy. In moments like these, I wonder. Should I really live here? Is this really what I want?

The answer is always yes.

But at times, doing the things I like can weigh me down. They stop being fun. And after being here for just over ten years, I’ve learned – when you’re tired, take a break. If it’s going out, hitting the gym, working long hours that’s sapping your stamina just stop. Stop it right away. Even cancel something this instant if you have to- not permanently, but just long enough to rejuventate. If it’s the city’s pace that’s wearing you thin, head to the country. If it’s too many girls nights, try staying in and painting your nails. If it’s work, get your assistant to pick up the slack. When you start to miss it (and you know you will), that’s a pretty good sign you’re ready to pick things back up where you left off. Usually being tired and frustrated is not a sign that your tastes have changed, just an indicator that you might be indulging in too much of a good thing, and you’re plum tuckered out.