Most people might tell that happiness comes from within, and while that’s true in the long run, there’s also an experiential side of happiness. I’m sure you’ll agree that some experiences put a smile on your face more than others. It may be a learned response in most cases, but there’s still an effect.
Even money can contribute to happiness to an extent. You’d probably be happier receiving an unexpected financial gift as opposed to an unexpected bill.
So I’ve been looking at some recurring activities in my life and asking myself if they’re positively contributing to my long-term happiness. As I’ve been going through this process, I’ve been making a lot of changes, and they’re really beginning to add up. So, here are the best eight methods I have found to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science.
1. Exercise more – 7 minutes might be enough
You might have seen some talk recently about the scientific 7 minute workout mentioned in The New York Times. So if you thought exercise was something you didn’t have time for, maybe you can fit it in after all.
2. Sleep more – you’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions
We know that sleep helps our bodies to recover from the day and repair themselves, and that it helps us focus and be more productive. It turns out, it’s also important for our happiness.
3. Go outside – happiness is maximized at 13.9°C
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness.
4. Help others – 100 hours a year is the magical number
One of the most counterintuitive pieces of advice I found is that to make yourself feel happier, you should help others. In fact, 100 hours per year (or two hours per week) is the optimal time we should dedicate to helping others in order to enrich our lives.
5. Practice smiling – it can alleviate pain
Smiling itself can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study 17: A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a tropical vacation or a child’s recital – improve their mood and withdraw less.
6. Plan a trip – but don’t take one
As opposed to actually taking a holiday, it seems that planning a vacation or just a break from work can improve our happiness. A study published in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life 19 showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as employees enjoyed the sense of anticipation:
In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.
After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.
7. Meditate – rewire your brain for happiness
Meditation is often touted as an important habit for improving focus, clarity and attention span, as well as helping to keep you calm. It turns out it’s also useful for improving your happiness.
Meditation literally clears your mind and calms you down, it’s been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life.
8. Practice gratitude – increase both happiness and life satisfaction
This is a seemingly simple strategy, but I’ve personally found it to make a huge difference to my outlook. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you. For more ideas you can visit bufferapp blog.
When you’ve cleared enough space and you’re ready to add some new activities, I would caution you to take your time. There’s no rush to get everything perfect on the first try.
Start with the most obvious items. If you know you get a lot of enjoyment from a certain activity, add it to your life. Then watch your happiness increase.