By Fattima Mahdi
Some of us are willing to take action and will do whatever it takes to live a happier life, while others feel helpless and unable to boost their mood. The journey to happiness involves incremental gains. There are things that we can do on a day-to-day basis that can make us feel significantly happier over time. We all want happiness and science says we can have it. Check out the five scientifically proven ways to become a happier person.
Exercise can have a powerful effect on our happiness and well-being. Exercise helps our body produce endorphins and this can help block feelings of pain, and release feelings of euphoria. A study published by Blumenthal in Psychosomatic Medicine concluded that exercise was generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder:
Blumenthal has explored the mood-exercise connection through a series of randomized controlled trials. In one such study, he and his colleagues assigned sedentary adults with major depressive disorder to one of four groups: supervised exercise, home-based exercise, antidepressant therapy or a placebo pill. After four months of treatment, Blumenthal found, patients in the exercise and antidepressant groups had higher rates of remission than did the patients on the placebo.
Do something nice for somebody else. This will give you a little buzz and make you feel good about your efforts, especially when you help a person you don’t know very well. Helping others has been linked to an increase in life satisfaction and it also generally improves mood and reduces stress. Shawn Achor is an advocate of positive psychology, in his book The Happiness Advantage he says this about helping others:
…when researchers interviewed more than 150 people about their recent purchases, they found that money spent on activities–such as concerts and group dinners out–brought far more pleasure than material purchases like shoes, televisions, or expensive watches. Spending money on other people, called “prosocial spending,” also boosts happiness.
Go Outside More
We are not designed to spend long hours inside, staring at a computer screen. Take some time away from technology and the modern stresses of life by going outside. Being outdoors can broaden thinking and improve your working memory.
A UK study from the University of Sussex has found that being outdoors made people happier:
Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot for most. In fact, participants were found to be substantially happier outdoors in all natural environments than they were in urban environments.
Spend More Time With Family And Friends
Not staying in contact with family and friends is one of the top five regrets of dying. Research has shown that spending time with loved ones is a great way to become a happier person. The Terman study, covered in The Longevity Project, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives:
We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest.
Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.
A smile can go along way. When you smile, you will look more attractive and feel better. Perpetual smilers are less anxious and more relaxed. According to PsyBlog, smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:
Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically. When this idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees.
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