We’ve gathered up the top 10 scientific ways to be happy.
Happiness is all about brain chemistry, so if you didn’t think it was scientific, think again!
These ideas can’t guarantee happiness, as how you implement them in your life is up to you. But, if you put in the work, you’ll be well on your way to a much happier life.
The Benefits Of Being Happy
The benefits of being happy are both varied and life-changing. While being happy doesn’t solve all your problems, it often makes dealing with them much more manageable.
Dealing with life’s many challenges is much harder if you’re also dealing with negative emotions. A more positive mindset means you have more energy to devote to improving your life.
Not only that but positivity is also linked with better physical health. Happy people are less likely to get sick and recover more quickly if they do get sick.
Why Does It Feel Hard To Be Happy?
Many factors lead to people struggling to feel happy in their daily lives.
Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress can drastically reduce your ability to find happiness. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, seeking professional help is vital.
Bad habits can also trip you up on the road to happiness. This can be a real challenge if you struggle with addiction or have difficulty managing your emotions.
Life’s curveballs, e.g., a bad breakup or someone passing away, are enough to knock anyone down for a while. Grief is a natural and necessary emotion, but if it’s not dealt with healthily, it can lead to further problems.
Another significant factor leading to unhappiness is thinking about happiness incorrectly. Many believe happiness comes from external factors, such as winning the lottery or becoming famous.
This way of thinking sets you up for disappointment because those things are entirely out of your control.
What you can control is your thought process and how you react to the events in your life. You can also choose what you do with your time, who you spend it with, and how you care for yourself.
Being happy is a choice, and it’s one that you can make every day.
10 Scientific Ways To Be Happy
Ready to incorporate some happiness into your life? Here are 10 scientific ways to be happy, backed by research.
1. Maintain Strong Relationships With Friends And Family
We don’t need to tell you that your friendships and relationships are important! Socializing provides emotional and interpersonal benefits, increasing your happiness.
A longitudinal study into the lives of over 250 men concluded that relationships are the strongest predictor of lifetime happiness. The strength of the participants’ relationships in their 40s predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable the study measured.
To be happy in your old age, you must work on cultivating relationships with your loved ones now.
How To Do It:
There are many ways to keep in touch. You can have regular catch-ups with friends, go on dates with your partner, and make an effort to spend more quality time with your family.
You can also work on your relationships by being more present and engaged when you’re around your loved ones. Put away your phone, make eye contact, and really listen to what the other person is saying. Remember to check on your happy friends too!
2. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude means taking stock of what you have in life and appreciating those things. It’s a simple concept that can significantly increase your happiness.
Positive psychology research has shown that gratitude has many benefits, including improved mental and physical health, stronger relationships, and increased resilience in the face of stress.
So, work on cultivating gratitude! It’s incredible how much better you feel when you reframe your outlook and see things from a grateful perspective.
How To Do It:
Keep a gratitude journal and write down what you are grateful for each day. Write about good things that happened during the day, happy memories, successes, and things you’re looking forward to. The advantage of writing things down is that you can read through them on tough days and remember all the good in your life.
Use the built-in happiness journal of the Do Happy App to make gratitude part of your daily routine!
3. Schedule Time For Mindfulness Meditation
Your brain isn’t designed to cope with a high level of stress and activity all the time. It’s essential to make time to relax and de-stress. For this, mindfulness meditation has proven effective.
A study in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging found that people who participated in an eight-week course on mindfulness meditation had MRI scans showing increased density in the hippocampus and other brain structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
They also had decreased density in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.
How To Do It:
Start with a guided meditation. There are many great apps and websites that offer free guided meditations, such as Calm and Insight Timer. Find a moment when you can be alone and uninterrupted, close your eyes, and follow along with the guide.
If you’re new to meditation, starting with just a few minutes daily can be helpful. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase the length of your sessions.
4. Hand Out More Genuine Smiles
Smiling can have a positive effect on your mood and the moods of those around you.
When you smile, it’s not just your facial muscles that are affected. Smiling also activates the release of happy chemicals in your brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals can help to improve your mood and alleviate stress.
What’s more, smiling is contagious. When you see someone smile, it’s difficult not to mirror their expression. So, when you smile at someone, you’re making both you and them feel good.
There is a caveat, however. The smile must be genuine.
A study on how employees’ moods are affected by having to smile at customers showed that forcing a smile and pretending to be happy leads to emotional withdrawal and exhaustion. On the other hand, those who smiled because they were thinking happy thoughts experienced increased positive moods and productivity.
So, if you want to reap the benefits of smiling, make sure it’s a genuine smile.
How To Do It:
Make it a habit to smile more often. Think happy thoughts and smile at people you make eye contact with, including family, friends, co-workers, people who provide service to you, and even yourself in the mirror. The more you smile, the easier it will become – and the happier you’ll feel!
5. Spend More Time Outside
Your surroundings can significantly impact your emotional state.
A study found that its participants felt happiest in outdoor, natural environments near water. Those in urban settings were less happy on average, suggesting an important link between happiness and nature.
Why does being outside make you happy? The natural sounds, fresh air, and vitamin D from the sun all play a role. Being outside also puts your mind at ease and allows you to enjoy the moment.
So, if you’re looking for a fun and relaxing way to feel happier, take a stroll outside. Your mind and body will thank you!
How To Do It:
Make an effort to spend more time outside, especially in nature. Take a break from work and go for a walk. Have a picnic by the lake. Go for a hike on the weekends. Listen to the birds and enjoy the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face and smile.
6. Move Your Body Consistently
While most people focus on the physical health benefits of exercise, there are also many psychological benefits. Exercise can make you happy!
Exercise has such a profound effect on our health and happiness that it’s even used to manage depression.
This study used different methods to treat depression. These methods were medication, exercise, and a combination of the two.
Three groups were formed, each being treated with one of these methods. While all three groups saw similar improvements initially, differences became clear in follow-up assessments.
The three groups were assessed six months after the initial study to determine relapses. The combination group had the lowest relapse rate compared to the other two.
Exercise doesn’t only help those with depression. It can help everyone relax, focus, and even improve their self-esteem.
How To Do It:
Do anything that gets you up and moving. You can do something as simple as walking around the block or playing with your kids at the park. Invite a friend to join you for a game of tennis or a yoga session. Join a local sports team. Take a dance class. The options are endless! Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it.
7. Get The Amount Of Sleep You Need
Your body needs sleep to manage various functions. Your psychological needs and happiness are also heavily impacted by sleep.
When you get enough sleep, your body is better equipped to handle stress. You’re also able to think more clearly and be more productive.
On the other hand, when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to feel tired, stressed, and anxious.
Sleep deprivation hinders your brain from holding onto positive or neutral memories but leaves the part of the brain responsible for negative emotional reactivity unaffected.
A study involving sleep-deprived college students proved interesting. This involved them having to memorize a list of words.
These students could better remember words with a negative connotation than positive and neutral words. This indicates that sleep-deprived people have difficulty recalling pleasant elements in life.
So, if you want to enjoy more positive emotions, make sure you’re getting enough sleep!
How To Do It:
Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid caffeine and screens before bed. Make your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing environment. Sleep in complete darkness or use a sleep mask. Do whatever it takes to get the high-quality sleep your mind and body need!
8. Help Others; It’s Good For You!
You know the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive?” It turns out this is true when it comes to happiness!
Research shows that people who spend money on others are happier than those who spend it on themselves. This was regardless of how much money was spent. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small amount or a large sum; the result is the same.
This is because helping others activates the reward center in our brains, known as the “helper’s high.”
Moreover, there is a positive feedback loop between kindness and happiness.
This study found that when people recalled spending money on someone else, they felt happier and were more likely to do it again in the future.
So, if you want to be happier, be the reason someone smiles today and help others! It’s a win-win for everyone.
How To Do It:
You don’t have to spend money to help others. You can volunteer your time or perform small acts of kindness. You can hold the door open for someone, help out a neighbor with a chore, or compliment a stranger. Whatever you do, make sure it’s from the heart and with good intentions.
9. Shorten Your Commute For Higher Life Satisfaction
With all the hours spent driving to and from work each week, it’s no surprise that it can impact our mood.
Sitting in traffic or having to take a detour is always irritating. The brain never fully gets used to the commute because it’s always uniquely unpleasant.
This study into the effects of commuting on happiness determined that better houses and jobs don’t make up for long commutes.
Instead of buying a nice house or gunning for a promotion, consider living closer to your workplace. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much your happiness and satisfaction with life improves.
How To Do It:
If you’re not happy with your commute, make a change. You might have to downsize your house or relocate to shorten your commute. The extra hour or two you get back each workday will be worth it in the long run!
We recognize that it is not always possible to do this, but if you can, it’s worth considering. Otherwise, do whatever you can to make your commute more enjoyable. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts, carpool with friends, or make a hands-free call to a friend or family member to catch up during your commute.
10. Plan Trips, Even If You Never Take Them
Here’s an interesting happiness hack: plan a trip, even if you never take it.
A study found that peak happiness occurs during the planning stage of a trip.
This is because, during the planning stage, you’re focused on all the fun you’ll have and the memories you’ll make. The vacation anticipation boosts happiness for longer than actually going on the trip!
So, if your timetable is packed, plan a trip for the future. The excitement and anticipation, whenever you think about it, will improve your happiness.
How To Do It:
Create a dream trip itinerary. Look up potential destinations online. Embark on the trip in your mind and allow yourself to feel the happiness that comes with it.
Negative feelings and emotions are a part of life, but you always have the power to choose how you react to them.
Happy people don’t let their emotions control them. Instead, they take charge of their own happiness and create positivity. They realize that happiness is a habit! For a happy life, they work on their happiness every day.
You can do the same. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to a happier and more fulfilling life. Just remember, it takes time and effort to change your habits. Be consistent and patient, and don’t give up! Soon enough, you’ll be reaping the rewards of a happier life.
If you found these tips helpful or inspiring, visit the a little dose of happy blog for more happiness-related content!
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