- Noa Fenigstein
5 Science-Based Daily Practices to Increase Your Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy. The industry of happiness is a billion-dollar industry, with hundreds of self-help books, courses, documentaries, and online lectures designed to teach us how to be happy. The irony is, with so many solutions out there, studies consistently show that happiness has been declining for decades.
Happiness and emotional health are determined by many factors; some of them - genetics, upbringing, culture, politics - we usually can’t control. However, many studies also show that roughly 40% of happiness IS within our control. That being said, there is no magic method or solution that will make you happy. Happiness is a process of learning and practice.
Want to introduce the practice of happiness into your life? You’re not alone, but it might be easier than you think. Here are some science-based activities to do every day to increase your happiness.
1. Show Someone Your Gratitude or Appreciation
Write a positive review on a great service you received. Send an appreciation email to a colleague. Say “Thank You” to the people around you.
Gratitude is strongly associated with happiness, and is widely considered by scientists and thought leaders alike to be one of the top contributors to good mental health. Gratitude towards the people around increase life satisfaction, provide a sense of meaning, increase feelings of competence, improve your mood and reduce stress. It also spreads the joy and makes other people feel great along the way.
2. Watch Something That Makes You Laugh
Online cat videos. Your all-time favorite sitcom. A stand-up comedy special.
It might sound obvious, but laughter and happiness are strongly related, but studies show that laughter has many benefits you may not even know about. Genuine laughter strengthens the immune system, improves blood circulation, reduces pain, improves mood, and helps relieve anger and tension. Laughing will not only instantly make you happier, but will also improve your mental and physical health over time.
3. Do Something You've Been Putting Off for a While
Schedule a dentist appointment. Pay that bill. Have that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding.
We all have tasks we perpetually postpone. The thing is, even if these tasks are small and relatively insignificant, avoiding them creates a heavy mental load, stress, and guilt. Not only that, completing tasks gives an immediate sense of relief and confidence that can last for quite a long time. Start with an easy task you can perform without too much preparation, and just let that sense of relief that follows be your motivation.
4. Park Your Car Farther Away From Your Destination
When you go to work, the grocery store, when you pick up your kids from school, or go on a date.
While the benefits of physical activity to happiness and wellbeing are widely known, in the Western world most people have to actively choose to be physically active. The thing is, not everybody has the motivation, time, or means to exercise on a regular basis. An easy way to introduce some physical activity to your day is yo walk just a little bit more. So next time you drive somewhere, park your car farther away from your destination and walk for a bit. Every step counts!
5. Call or Text Someone Just to See How They're Doing
A long-distance friend. A former colleague. Your mom.
Strong relationships are key to a happy life. By showing the people in your life that you think and care about them, you are not only strengthening your relationship but also promoting empathy and a sense of connectedness and making you both happier. Also, making another person smile will make you feel great!