Project: Happiness

Happiness is a choice we need to make every day.

Easier said than done, right? We’ll most of the time but we may actually become closer to being happy everyday if we follow these tips backed by science.

 

Here are 10 tips to be happier everyday:

 

Sleep longer

Yehey, a reason to sleep in!

Several research found that the quality and length of sleep affect ones sensitivity to negative emotions. BPS Research Digest found that lack of sleep leads to negative feelings like fear and anger towards the afternoon. So maybe it’s a good idea to consider taking a power nap during your lunch break.

Further, a good night’s sleep can really help our body recharge so we can be focused, productive and positive.

If you want to know why, researchers found that the part of the brain, hippocampus, which is in charge of storing neutral and good memories is the one strongly attacked by lack of sleep. Because of this, we only mostly remember negative things stored in another area of the brain, the amygdala.

So make sure to get a good night sleep every day, your mood in the morning will surely affect your whole day.

 

Practice smiling

Smiling is not just for pictures.

It turns out that smiling can actually make you feel better when in pain. It’s called the “facial feedback hypothesis” where a forced smile can slightly lift your mood – even when in pain.

On the other hand, a genuine smile can help you perform better in work or in school. Smiling aids our attention and makes us perform better in mental tasks.

Beware of fake smiles that do not reach the eyes. According to Michigan State University, fake smiles can worsen your day and make you feel withdrawn. Instead, paste a genuine smile on your face by thinking of positive thoughts. The smile will not only lighten up your face but it also uplift your mood and make you less withdrawn from others.

 

Exercise

This is a golden nugget I learned from a chic flick, Legally Blonde: “exercise gives out endorphin, endorphin make you happy.”

This claim is back by science. Exercise can make you happy. In fact, a study on three groups of people with depression showed that the group who did not take any medication but undertook an exercise program had the smallest relapse after six months with only 9 per cent.

Also, the Journal of Health Psychology found that even if exercise do not affect your body weight, exercising can positively affect your mood and how you feel about yourself.

 

Go outside

One of the easiest ways to boost your mood is to go out and get some fresh air.

The University of Sussex discovered that people who go to warm and/or sunny natural, outdoor spots are substantially happier.

The temperature plays a big deal here too, according to the American Meteorological Society, temperature should be at 13.9 degrees Celsius for maximum happiness effect (wind speed and humidity are also variables here).

If you want to increase your happiness, include a 20 minute time out from your daily routine.

 

Plan a trip

If a 20-minute time outdoors can do wonders in your state of happiness, imagine how you’ll feel on a trip?

Do not have the time or the budget yet? Do not worry, just plan that vacation and mark your calendar. A study found that the planning stages are the happiest stage of vacation. The anticipation can buoy your feelings for eight weeks!

 

Move closer to work

As much as being out is great, sitting too long in traffic is not a mood fixer.

If you still find yourself cranky at work even after a good night sleep, it may be due to the traffic you had to endure.

Unfortunately, a study by two Swiss economists found that neither buying a big house nor getting a better job will ever compensate for the stress brought by daily traffic. Instead, try moving closer to where you work or study to lessen the effect of traffic to your well-being.

 

Meet family and friends

Being with family and friends always lift our mood and make us feel more happy and secure.

A researcher named Mr. George Vaillant studied 268 men for 72 years. After all those years and rich data, he revealed that “the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

He further adds in an interview that men with good sibling relationships are “thriving at age 65” and that “men’s relationship at age 47… predicted late-life adjustment.”

The saying, money can’t buy happiness  seem to be true after the British Household Panel Survey found that an actual increase in income did not influence the level of happiness but instead an “increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction.”

Social relationships are indeed an important variable for happiness in men and in women. So, keep in touch with your loved ones and spend time with them as much and as often as you can.

 

Help others

Being happy does not mean we should always be the one on the receiving end. A study from The Journal of Happiness found that those who buy for other people felt happier than those who spent for themselves.

Also, an article citing a book called “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being” by Professor Martin Seligman stated that “doing kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.

So aside from spending quality time with your loved ones, extend your social circle to help out others as well. A study called The Longevity Project found that “the clearest benefit of social relationship came from helping others… those who tend to help their friends and neighbors… tended to live to old age.”

A good two hours per week or 100 hours per day spent healing other people is said to be the magic number to affect your happiness level.

 

Practice gratitude

In a dog-eat-dog world, feeling grateful toward others seem unnecessary. We always want others to see our worth and saying thank you to another person might just make your contribution look less.

However, forgetting to be grateful can actually dampen your mood. An experiment showed that being conscious of reasons to be grateful have “emotional and interpersonal benefits.” Another study showed that writing thank you letters in a three week period made the participants feel happy, satisfied and displayed less depressive symptoms.

 

Meditate

Meditation is related to helping individuals keep calm but aside from that, it can also influence your happiness.

Because meditation can clear your mind, it relieves your mind of stress and allows it to feel content and empathy. It is thought that regular meditation may help “rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.”

 

We do not have to wait for something big to make us happy. Happiness can be achieved with the right set of habits.

 

 

Photo thanks to Alejandro Alvarez from Unsplash.com

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