Science Reveals 10 Things Proven To Make You Happier
Henry Ward Beecher said back in the 1800s that the art of happiness lies in your power to extract it from common things. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said happiness isn’t something to postpone for the future. Instead, Rohn said it’s something you design in the present. Modern science is unveiling ways to become happier, and these ways fall behind the gist of both quotes - do it now and keep it simple.
According to science, some people are innately happier than others and vice versa. It’s also showing that seeking and obtaining happiness changes your brain when it becomes a state of being and experience over mere occasional sensations. So, how do you become happier, especially if you’re just one of those prone to being disgruntled and moody? You start in the present with the common things in life.
Meditation reaches the core of who you are as an individual via self-reflection. It’s a basic instinct that we all utilize to some extent as we sit, for example, occasionally pondering and figuring out our lives. These occasional moments aren’t active and routine meditation, however, which is what can make a huge difference in our state of happiness.
Research offered in Forbes on meditation and happiness reveals countless studies showing that post-meditation elicits feelings of contentment, calm, awareness, and empathy. According to Shawn Archer’s TED talk on positivity, the brain can actually be trained to become more positive and rewire itself to do so. Archer says that better optimism and successes can be found in devoting just two minutes of your time for 21 consecutive days.
A Massachusetts General Hospital study revealed a similar finding. Researchers compared the before and after brain scans of 16 participants engaged in an eight-week mindfulness meditation course. All were found to have increased activity in the brain areas responsible for compassion and self-awareness.
2. Lessen Your Commute Time
If possible, consider moving closer to work or finding a job closer to your home to cut down your commuter time. The lesser drive/ride time may seem like something trivial in the big scheme of things, but time spent commuting is actually quite a common and easy source of unhappiness in your life
From road rage to workplace burnout, long drives and rides to and from work in traffic have been shown to have vast negative effects. A study by the Office for National well-being found that commuters are more anxious, less satisfied, and find less meaning in daily activities than those with shorter commutes. A study by Swiss economists found that even higher paying jobs and the ability to have and do more from a higher salary doesn’t even counterbalance the negative effects of long-distance commuting.
3. Find Your Altruistic Side
We live in a survivor-mentality world of “me” being the first and last thought. Not that survival is a bad thing, but constantly being in a state of "all me all the time" diminishes the scope of our world and therefore the sources of happiness within it. It’s not ironic that some of the most generous people are also some of the happiest.
You’re busy. You’re broke. You’re strapped for energy to care for yourself, much less anyone else. But, what you may not realize is that altruism doesn’t have to be some grandiose display of generosity; it can be a common daily act of random kindness.
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant has a “five-minute-favor” technique to help anyone become generous. Take just a few minutes each day to make a commitment to help someone by any means you have available. While the act may be small and take you all five minutes, you never know when the smallest of gestures can make the biggest impact on someone else’s life and your own personal happiness.
4. Invest In Time, Not More Useless Objects
So what if you have last year’s fashion or phone? Once the novelty wears off, how will any object you buy impact your life for the better? That should be the primary question you ask yourself with each purchase.
Scientists at Harvard and the University of British Columbia recently surveyed 6000 people with just two questions. The participants were asked how much money they spent on free time investments and how often they did it. The findings were that using your monies to buy time generates more happiness and life satisfaction than buying “stuff”.
5. Get That Sleep
Routine, undisturbed, and adequate amounts of sleep are essentials for your mind and body to function properly. A lack thereof impacts everything from your mental acuity to your mood. In other words, you’re grumpy and distracted.
An interesting experiment was performed on sleep-deprived college kids. The kids were given a list of negative and positive words to memorize. The interesting part isn’t so much how much they were able to recall as it was what their brain opted to retain. Only 31% of the neutral to positive words, such as sunshine, were recalled. However, the kids could recall 81% of the negative words, such as cancer. The study highlighted how sleep impacts your mindset, not just acuity.
6. Take A Minute
Did you know that giving just 30 seconds of your time to someone else’s attention instantly triggers feel-good, happy endorphins to be released within your brain? Like the altruism entry for happiness, you don’t have to leap tall buildings and save three kids from a fire in your 30 seconds.
Taking a minute can mean holding the door for the next guy versus letting it slap him in the face because you’re in a hurry. It can mean grabbing your neighbor’s bags if you see him/her struggling up the same stairs you’re climbing effortlessly. Simply offering a compliment to a coworker for something done well counts. So, make sure you’re taking a minute periodically during the day to recognize life is bigger than just you.
7. Joy Is Dished On A Plate Of Gratitude
Your parents likely offered sage advice like counting your blessings, saying thank you, and so forth. These aren’t just social skills, however. Gratitude is a life skill.
Gratitude research pioneer and professor of psychology Dr. Robert Emmons says that busy lifestyles and self-absorption all lead to a disconnect from binding with and caring about others, which in turn creates a funnel for loneliness, depression, and unhappiness.
If you regularly and willingly submit yourself to feeling gratitude, research shows you’ll feel happier, suffer less depression, sleep better at night, and more regularly make healthy lifestyle choices. Scientifically, gratitude relates back to the laws of attraction and vibration, which entails what you project is what you get back from the universe.
8. Learn The Lessons Adversity Offers
While adversity is a hardship, it’s also a self-taught moment. Seize that moment, and use it to fuel your ambitions, reflect upon your mistakes, and come out the other side a wiser and stronger you.
Studies have shown adversity situations result in a person having an overall happier life than those who’ve never known struggle. Why? Adversity offers a perspective on life that contributes to you becoming more optimistic and resilient, better in touch with your identity, and having more coping skills for life’s stressors.
9. Reflect On What Happiness Truly Entails And Where It Derives
Happiness being some fairytale version of continual bliss is a fallacy. It’s not a utopian state of being. It’s not something bargained upon. It’s an achievement. It’s a state of knowing the facts and being content with them.
Science shows happiness to be two-fold: life satisfaction and how you feel day-to-day (mood). Everyone has good and bad days. Plus, we often adapt to life’s circumstances over time, making much of what we experience on a daily basis irrelevant to our overall levels of happiness.
In fact, research shows that only 10% of our happiness is impacted by circumstance; 50% is governed by genetics and 40% by thoughts, deeds, and behaviors. So, pause to ask yourself what criteria you’re trying to fill in being happy and how you’re getting there.
10. Believe You Deserve Happiness
You have your version of happy. You know where it comes from and how to milk that happiness cow for all it’s worth. Now, the question is do you believe you deserve it. If not, then you have some self-reflection to do because every single living thing on earth has a right to pursue happiness. If yes, then consider how much time and effort you’re willing to put forth.
You have a right to seek it, but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically handed happiness on a silver platter. It’s active work to fill your happiness bucket.
Which of these 10 ways to get happier do you plan to implement? Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comment section, and pass this along to anyone who needs it.
Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation by your doctor. Your health is important to us!