Happy homework

Want to raise your contentment level? Tackle this to-do list

• Think positive. Research has found that optimistic people are more likely than others to find and hang on to lasting happiness. In addition to happiness, studies show that positive emotions correlate to a significant increase in life span.

• Say “thank you.” Gratitude is a choice you make. Be more attentive to opportunities to express and feel gratitude. Kids will learn from parents who pay attention to situations in which they benefited and made a point to say “thanks.”

• Be kind. Do something for somebody else. (Such acts can be especially happy-making when done anonymously.)

• Take up a hobby. Or return to one you’ve long given up on. Often a hobby can lead to what positive psychologists call a “flow” experience where you lose yourself in task. Flow equals happiness.

• Hide the remote. Instead of watching TV, do something more engaging. Researchers list the following as good options: meditate, pray, socialize, exercise, have sex.

• Check yourself. If you’re someone who tends to have a victim mentality (blaming others for what’s wrong with your life), give it up and instead count your blessings. As a result, you’ll see improvements in relationships, academics, energy levels and even dealing with tragedies and crises.

Remember that there are things that simply don’t matter when it comes to happiness: youth, beauty, your gender, whether you have children, whether you are wealthy.