Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been writing articles exploring the science of happiness. The first week was about the three lives of happiness and the second was about money and happiness. For today’s post, I’d like to give you some tips on how you can experience more happiness in your everyday life. I’ve compiled a list of 18 scientifically proven ways to be happy. These proven ways to be happy are things you can incorporate into your daily life to experience a life full of long lasting happiness. My suggestion for you would be to try out some of these tips in the next coming weeks and monitor how your mood changes. I guarantee you’ll be pleased with the results 🙂
1. Hardwire your brain for happiness
While I was in college I took part in two neuroscience internships. I’m so happy that I had the chance to take part in them, because it helped me to understand how our brain and neurons work. There is a saying, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” So, if you want to be happier, you need to get those neurons to fire and wire!
Lucky for you, there are tons of easy ways you can do that. First of all, I want to mention that an awesome psychologist you should know about is called Rick Hanson. He wrote the book Hardwiring Happiness, which is an excellent book to give you tips on how to wire your brain for positive experiences and therefore experience more happiness in your life.
In that book you can learn plenty of awesome tips to help you hardwire happiness. A simple tip is to savor your positive experiences. Whenever you experience something where you feel really happy, try to take 20 seconds to pause and really appreciate the moment you are in. Over time this will help you to build a neural network and help you to hardwire happiness into your brain!
2. Become more mindful
Mindfulness is another easy way to help you boost your mood. A study conducted by Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan found that mindfulness does in fact increase a person’s well-being (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Since 2003 there have been numerous studies on mindfulness showing that living in the present moment can really make you happier.
Using mindfulness as a way to be happy is as simple as spending a few minutes each day focusing on a task you are doing. I mean totally focusing on the task you are doing—make sure you are totally free of distractions from your Smartphone! I wrote another post about everyday mindfulness that includes plenty of tips for practicing mindfulness!
Another way is to spend a few minutes focusing on doing mindful breathing. Learning to breathe mindfully is something simple to do, yet very powerful and effective. You can read more about mindful breathing in this post here.
3. Thinking about being happier really can make you happier
Yuna L. Ferguson and Kennon M. Sheldon (2013) published the results of their study where they tested the levels of happiness of people who were trying to think themselves happy.
What they found was that people who actively tried to be happier did show increases in their happiness (Ferguson & Sheldon, 2013). So what does that mean for you? That if you want to be happier you should really try to make yourself think about being happy. It’s as simple as that! This is usually easy to do when you are already in a pleasant mood. If you are feeling unhappy, encourage yourself to think about being happier. This should definitely help to boost your mood.
4. Smile 🙂
Having a bad day? Try smiling! Research has shown that making yourself smile actually can make you feel happier. There have been numerous studies on the topic that support the research that smiling can boost your mood.
This is probably the simplest way you can incorporate into your daily routine to feel happier. So next time you are in a terrible mood remember to flip that frown around 🙂
5. Practice feeling gratitude
Are you someone who counts your blessings often? If you are my guess would be you feel pretty happy with your life, and the research would support this statement. Two researchers found that people in a gratitude outlook group experienced greater senses of well-being in their life (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
Being thankful for the people and things in your life can really do wonders for your happiness. So the next time you are feeling down, try to remember all the things you have in your life to be thankful for. It should make you feel happier!
6. Develop a positive mindset
I’ve never been a morning person. In the past, when I had to wake up before 8:00 a.m. I felt totally miserable. I remember going to my morning classes in college in such a foul mood. But, now when I wake up early in the morning I no longer experience those feelings. Did I become a morning person? Definitely not! But, what I did do is change my mindset to be more positive.
It’s been scientifically proven that developing a positive mindset can really help you to feel happier.
Developing a positive mindset is something that may take time—but it is worth the effort. Every day try to train your mind for a few minutes to see things in a positive light. If you catch yourself framing the experience in a negative way, just gently remind yourself that you want to experience more positive emotions and happiness in your life. Don’t spend your time focusing on the bad things that happens in your day. Always try to look for the good. This is one tip I definitely encourage you to do as often as you can. Developing a positive mindset has transformed my life in so many ways. I’m sure it will do the same for you!
7. Practice a loving kindness meditation
I’ve been meditating for many years now. Whenever I meditate I always experience many positive emotions throughout my day. One type of meditation—called loving kindness meditation— has been proven to help people feel more happiness in their lives.
In a nutshell, a loving kindness meditation is exactly what its name states: you meditate and feel loving kindness and genuine warmth for yourself and also for other people in your life. Doing this meditation has so many health benefits, including increased states of well-being.
If you are a beginning meditator, don’t worry, you can start off by just practicing a small loving kindness meditation. Here is a link to a wonderful loving kindness meditation you can start with. Happy meditating!
8. Be altruistic
In a world full of ego, it’s good to be altruistic. There are numerous studies that show the correlation between being altruistic and happiness (Post, 2005).
There are plenty of ways you can be altruistic in your daily life. Maybe this means volunteering for a cause you believe in. Or maybe this means being kind and compassionate to your colleagues.
I definitely think it’s important that we spend our lives helping others without expectations of getting something in return. Doing this will in turn make us feel happier!
9. Learn to forgive others
It can be hard to truly forgive others sometimes. But, holding a grudge won’t do you any good. There have been several studies showing that forgiveness does make people feel happier.
Is there someone you can forgive today? I understand that forgiving someone who has really hurt you is not easy, but I do encourage you to at least try. Letting go of those feelings you are harboring inside will help you release a lot of negativity that is stuck deep within you. If you don’t want to speak to that person perhaps you could try writing them a letter. If you learn to forgive others, it will really help you experience more happiness in your life.
10. Spend time with friends
I’m sure you already knew that spending time with friends makes you happier. Whenever I talk to or see my close friends I always feel happier! There are numerous scientific reasons as to why friendship leads us to being happier. Check out this awesome infographic to see some of them.
If you want to be happier then it’s important to have a good set of friends in your life. This means people who will support you and also pick you up when you are having tough times in your life. Awesome friends like this will help you feel happier.
11. Spend time outside
I grew up around a lot of woods; I was always outside when I was younger. I felt so happy when I was wandering around in nature. When I went to college in Washington, D.C. I didn’t have as much of a chance to spend time in nature, and as a result I found that my happiness decreased. After a few months of college, I started spending more time going to places outside of the city. I realized that whenever I did this I felt happier.
There is truth to what I was feeling. Current research shows that spending time outside can increase your sense of happiness. As humans, I really do think that we need to spend time outside as much as we possibly can. If you live in a city, it’s important to find time to go to a place you can be in nature. Find time to go for a walk or a hike in nature; it will really help you feel happier!
12. Get enough sleep
We need to get enough sleep each night if we want to feel happy. Researchers Kahneman and Krueger (2006) found that the amount of sleep people get correlates with the reported satisfaction in their lives. So if you want to feel happier then you need to be getting enough good quality sleep each night, which is between seven to eight hours.
13. Share your positive experiences with others
You have something really awesome that just happened to you? Then make sure you tell someone about it. Doing so will make you feel happier.
A study conducted by a team of researchers found that those people who shared their positive experiences with others experienced more happiness (Lambert et al., 2013).
This is a simple way you can increase your happiness in your life. Just remember whenever you have a really positive experience that you tell other people. Doing so will help you increase the amount of happiness you feel in your life.
14. Use your money to buy experience
Yes, money can buy happiness if you use it in the right way. If you read my post last week, you will remember that current research shows that experience will give you longer lasting happiness than a material possession.
If you want more happiness in your life, then use your money to buy experience rather than a material good. This could be buying tickets to see your favorite band or tickets to travel to a new place.
15. Put some flowers in your house
How do you feel when you first wake up in the morning? If you are like me then you are probably not nearly as happy as you are several hours later in the day. A simple way to help boost your mood in the morning is to put some flowers in your house. Harvard Researcher, Nancy Etcoff, found that people’s moods were better in the morning if they had flowers in their house (Etcoff, 2007). So if you want to feel a bit brighter and happier in your day, then make sure you get some flowers to keep in your house!
16. Reduce time commuting
Researchers Kahneman and Krueger (2006) found that people report their morning commute to work as being a very unpleasant activity of their day. That statistic doesn’t surprise me at all actually. Whenever I’ve had to deal with long commutes to work in the past I always felt unhappy. So if you can find ways to reduce your commute to work, then you will definitely feel an increase in happiness in your life.
17. Journal your thoughts down
I’ve always been a person who journals; I still have my journals from when I was 14! When I look through them I see that I often wrote about the things I was happy and grateful for in my life. Current research shows that keeping a gratitude journal can make you happier.
It just takes a few minutes to truly think about what you are grateful for in your life and write them down. Doing this will help you feel more happiness in your life.
18. Limit your social media usage
Lastly, if you want to feel happier, then limit your time spent on social media. There have been numerous studies that show that social media usage decreased people’s feelings of well-being in their life. On social media it is so easy to compare yourselves to others which leads you to feel really bad about yourself. Don’t let that happen to you! Take control of the amount of time you spend on social media if you want to experience more happiness in your life.
The journey to happiness
We can feel happier in our lives if we are willing to do the work to improve our well-being. If you try to incorporate a few of these scientifically proven ways to be happy into your daily routine, then you really will feel happier. The research proves it! 🙂 So, which of these tips will you start incorporating into your daily routine? Let me know in the comments.