Happiness is a state of being that we all wish to achieve. Everything we do, we do because we think it will make us happy. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. Although thinkers and philosophers have been asking themselves what makes us happy since ancient times, it is not a question that is easily answered. It’s times like these that, fortunately, science comes in and helps answer even the most difficult of questions.
Below is a list of 10 simple things you can do today that will make you happier, backed by science.
1. Set goals for yourself
People who set goals for themselves—either short-term or long-term—are happier than those who do not. Moreover, setting goals for yourself not only activates positive feelings, but also represses negatives ones. Try writing them down in a journal!
2. Count your blessings
Counting your blessings at the end of each day leads to positive feelings. Literally, write them down. Journaling has been linked to a happier well being, so why not try writing down what you are thankful for at the end of each day. People who write down at least three good things that happened to them every night are significantly happier than those who do not. They don’t even have to be monumental: someone buying you a cup of coffee at Hillside count, as well.
3. Sleep at least 6 hours every night
Shocker, right? People who get an average of six hours and 15 minutes of uninterrupted sleep a night are happier than those who do not. A study asked a group of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 to rate their level of happiness after a night of sleep; those who slept an average of six hours and 15 minutes a night ranked the highest.
Try to fit in at least 20 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule. The two main chemicals involved in exercise’s positive effects are cortisol and endorphins. Cortisol—a hormone produced by the body under stress—is burned through exercise, making us both healthier and happier. Endorphins, on the other hand, are neurotransmitters that contribute to our general well being. Exercise stimulates the brain’s pituitary gland to release endorphins into our bloodstream. So try coming up with a work out schedule that works for you! Even if it is a quick one.
Smiling has a positive effect on our emotions. A smile is not going to cure depression but, a smile will cause happy feelings on a not so happy day. So why not try it out? You know what they say, fake it until you make it.
6. Listen to your favorite upbeat songs
Listening to happy, upbeat songs makes you happier. However, there’s a catch. Because seeking happiness also improves your health, you need to be actively listening to the songs. Having these songs play solely in the background will do nothing to enhance your mood. Specifically, when people thought to themselves that upbeat songs would boost their mood before listening to the songs, the songs did boost their mood.
7. Spend money on others
Does money buy happiness? Money definitely has an impact on our happiness. However, not in the way we think it does. Spending money on others—rather than on oneself—increases positive feelings among individuals. This includes volunteering and helping others out, as well. Those who volunteer, ranked their happiness level higher than those who did not. Fortunately, we have a bunch of organizations around BC that are always looking for volunteers and donations!
8. Stay hydrated
We know the effects dehydration can have on physical performance, but did you know the effects it could have on your happiness? Dehydration leads to a state of decreased happiness. Luckily, drinking about seven to eight glasses of water a day can boost both our mood and our cognitive skills. So grab that thermos of yours and drink up!
9. Try something new
Studies have shown that people who try something new everyday experience more positive thoughts than those who do not. Switching up your daily routine will do the trick. Are you used to running on the treadmill in the Plex? Try going for a run outside instead.
10. Spend less time on Facebook (and more time outside)
More frequent Facebook users are less happy than adults who do not use Facebook as often. In other words, higher rates of Facebook lead to an overall decline in happiness. So try going outside for a change. Walk to Starbucks with a friend to grab a cup of coffee. Winter is coming, so why not build a snowman or make snow angels? Time away from your computer and time outside will increase your overall happiness. Grab your friends and play outside. Sports are a great for of exercise and can be a lot of fun.
All images courtesy of Flickr