How can you be happy? It’s the million-dollar question that we all want the answer to. Although you can experience happiness in many different ways, it always includes two main components: the feeling of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.
While some of us may have been born with bigger smiles than others, the truth is that we all have control over much of our happiness. In fact, almost half of our happiness depends on our thoughts, actions, and behaviours (the other half is about 10 per cent life circumstances and the rest is determined by our genes). In addition to making you feel good, studies have found that happiness actually improves other aspects of your life, enhances health, and has a positive effect on the people around you.
Science has proven that happiness can be learned through practice and skill development, and the greatest successes come from consistency. Small changes over time will have a big impact on your happiness. Simple, key practices that you can start today to make you happier include:
- Practice gratitude: Gratitude can significantly increase your happiness as well as protect you from stress, negativity, anxiety, and depression. A regular gratitude practice (spending time each day thinking about/writing down things you are grateful for) is one of the easiest ways to counter the brain’s negativity bias (the tendency to cling to negative thoughts and things in our environment). By intentionally focusing on things you are grateful for, positivity, optimism, and life satisfaction grow.
- Exercise: Physical activity may be the most effective instant happiness booster. Happiness and exercise are both independently associated with the release of endorphins (feel good hormones), stress reduction, and an increase immune function. Regular physical activity also increases happiness, self-esteem, and can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Do nice things for others: When you do kind things for other people it increases happiness because it helps spur kindness and generosity. When you do something nice for someone, it activates the parts of your brain associated with trust, pleasure, and social connection.
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