To dismiss the link between looking, feeling and being beautiful would be a mistake. We’re going to offer a prescription for doing the right thing, embracing spirituality and finding a happier you.Give, Then PassThere are few feelings in the world that surpass that of knowing you’ve helped someone—whether it’s through a financial donation or a mentoring program or simply by giving up your seat on a crowded bus. It feels good—and is good.So good, in fact, that some researchers have found that the effect of altruism, big and small, is similar to a so-called runner’s high (the rush of endorphins).But unlike exercise-induced euphoria, this rush can last a long time. The evidence: Ninety percent of people who experience this high give their health condition a better grade than those who don’t.MORE: Gratitude Is Good for HealthYour thoughts about helping others help strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and provide stress relief.Studies show that charitable heart attack patients recover faster than those who aren’t, and those who do volunteer work have death rates 60 percent lower then those who don’t.But here’s the catch: When you give something to somebody, find a way to allow them the dignity to pass it on to someone else. Though people very often need help, they don’t want to feel like charity cases. They want to feel like they can pass something along to others.So be explicit in your giving and ask how the recipient will pass it forward. Pick situations where this expectation is clear.Create RitualsOne of the reasons why church, music and prayer can be uplifting is that weekly rituals reinforce a sense of community. You can experience spiritual highs through other things as well, such as nature walks with people from your neighborhood. Maybe it’s an annual trip with your family. Or you could try to make a nightly dinnertime routine where each person shares a wonderful thing that happened that day. Rituals reinforce behaviors.Say ThanksAs adults, we don’t need reminders to say thank you. But many of us do need reminders to do so beyond typical gift receiving. Part of our purpose is to get a little deeper, right?Think of someone who has had an effect on your life, and write that person a note of real gratitude. Fifteen minutes of daily gratitude can decrease your stress hormone levels. You could also try something different and get a gratitude bell for your house. When one member of the family does something nice for another, ring the bell. It’s a fun way to teach kids about helping others. Use Spirituality as a ToolThe real test of spirituality is how effectively you could apply it to solve real-life issues. Can you think before you act? Can you use deep breathing, meditation or prayer to help yourself be humble or compassionate when you’re under stress or in crisis? This skill is at the heart of what transcendence is all about.What do you do? This may mean counting to ten before reacting, or slowing your thought process while solving problems. Maybe you ask yourself what your spiritual leader of choice would do in this scenario.Using spirituality for conflicts means going one step further beyond an issue’s surface-level solution. Your child’s getting bad grades in school? Find out what else is going on in his or her life.QUIZ: How Happy Are You?

Expert Tips for Happiness

Be a Better BelieverHere are five ways to help you become more open and aware:

  • Be curious, ask questions and try to distinguish fact from opinion.
  • Try to integrate your beliefs with the world around you.
  • Learn from others and ask about their beliefs.
  • Manage stress to avoid damage to the hippocampus (which helps regulate emotion, memory and other systems). Say only positive thoughts aloud.
  • Fill your glass up if it’s “half empty.” Optimism is simply healthier. Those nuns who used more positive emotions in their diary writing ended up living eight years longer than their counterparts who used more negative language.
  • Don’t judge others too harshly. They may be deriving joy from their beliefs, which is a beautiful thing!

If for No Other Reason, Do It to Build a Better BrainIt’s a myth that we only use 10 percent of our brains. The truth is, we’re actively using our whole brain, even if not all the time. Every cell is alive and potentially stimulating parts of the brain we’re using. Spiritual thought can make your brain more interactive and stimulate brain activity. Thinking of meditating for a few minutes a day as a gift to yourself. Silent contemplation will build your brain to take on bigger and better things.Think, But Not Too Much!Emotions are generally hard-wired. This means they’re fairly predictable, even though they get a bad wrap for being irrational! Emotions are meant to cause action. Thinking is not about taking action, unless it helps you override an emotional decision to act.Here’s the catch. Wisdom must be transformed into insights that are fired up by your emotions for it to become subconscious and part of your innate behavior. Your love and wisdom must be combined into an action (such as doing a good deed) for all your thinking to matter. And unless you get emotional about the task, it won’t become part of your instinct.Stay SimpleExcessive thoughts and actions can diminish happiness. The excess clouds basic values. One reason is that motivation is about removing extraneous stimuli, so you can focus emotionally on the important task at hand. Happiness comes from filling one’s heart with love, while practicing charity and dispensing kindness. Simple, right?It’s All About YouNo matter what anyone tells you that might upset you, your essence is beautiful. We’re trying to help you shine like the gem you are.