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How To Be Happier, According to Science

By November 3, 2016Live, Think

We all know that happiness is one of the most important things out there, but far too often, we fail to chase it, we fail to focus on it, we fail to make time for it. It’s a plague.

Happiness is far from out of our control. In fact, research has shown that 40% of happiness results from intentional activity. What does that mean? That means that you can decide nearly half the amount of happiness you experience every day.

Here is the hiccup.  A researcher at Duke published a paper stating that more than 40% of our daily actions result from habits, not from decisions.  

That is why we fail to chase happiness. The other 60% of happiness comes from 10% circumstantial happenings and the other 50% from genes.

So how do you make ‘happiness increasing’ thoughts and actions into habits, rather than decisions we have to constantly make?

There are major three keys to this. Eric, from Barking Up the Wrong Tree, breaks them down.

1. Anticipation: 

There is beauty (and happiness) in having something to look forward to.

Don’t have something to look forward to? That is where YOU come in. Schedule something. It is as simple as that.  Research shows that people who experience joyful anticipation are more likely to experience pleasure not only leading up to the event, but in experiencing the actual event when it arrives.

This works contrastingly as well. Those who more often dread something in the future have less happiness in the present moment, and even less happiness in the moment of the specific event.

Give yourself something to be excited for—not only do you increase your happiness when it comes around, but you have more happiness before it arrives. It’s a win-win. Remember how excited you were for your high school prom?  Remember how awesome the week leading up to it was, how a smile would slide onto your face on random occasions when thinking about it? That is what you deserve everyday. Schedule something you are excited for. 

2. Recollection: 

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the fast wave of life and simply flow through each day. It is crucial to pull yourself up, to take a breather, and most importantly catalogue what is going on. 

What is making you feel good? What is dragging you down? Are you where you want to be? Are you ‘playing it safe’ because you are comfortable? What is your life dream? Are you chasing it?  

It is crucial to make the conscious effort to ask yourself these questions on a regular basis, otherwise you will look up from a place you haven’t moved from because you are just comfortable, and years will have passed. Recollect to yourself on a daily basis. Your past plays a substantial role in your present. It is unavoidable, but also can be used to your advantage.

On a similar note, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, has shown that your brain consistently remembers two sole things about an event: the emotional peak, and the end/outcome. What does that mean? YOU get to create your memories. In any given situation, fight to make the emotional peak one of happiness and the end one of happiness as well. For example, on a daily basis, fight to have one amazing moment, and then end on a happy note at night.

3. Gratitude: 

This one is simple— gratitude scientifically leads to optimism. Optimism scientifically leads to happiness.

Trust science. Be grateful for your morning coffee. Be grateful for your morning walk to work.  Look for what you can be grateful for every hour and you will be more optimistic, and when you are more optimistic, you will be happier.

 

Now, let’s talk about some smaller scale things you scientifically do to affect that 40% of happiness you do control.

Turn your already daily habits into happiness boosting activities.  

Morning coffee? Instead of pouring it in a to-go cup and guzzling it down on the way to work. Pop a squat, put down your phone, and drink that coffee while doing nothing other than savoring it.

Daily dog walk? Instead of catching up on voicemails or speed walking to get it over with, take in your surroundings, stroll, enjoy the moment and the beauty of nature.

Exercise.  

That is all. Well said.

Do something every day that makes your heart sing.

Whatever that may be, do it, even if it is only for 5 minutes.  Think you are too busy? You are never too busy for happiness. Schedule it in. Read, run, drink wine, eat chocolate.

Find the positives. 

Not every day will be perfect; you will face adversity.  I could tell you to find the bright side to every situation because optimism amiright? But, let’s be real—sometimes that is impossible.  Life can be just as rough as it can be beautiful.  However, studies show that those who aim to find the lesson or benefit in any situation are not only happier as a whole, but mentally stronger.  Aim to find the meaning in tough times.

I want to know: what is one thing you could do every day that makes you happy? Mine is drinking tea in bed at night!

Always remember, YOU MAKE YOU.

Xoxox,

Colby

P.S. Join me on your journey to conquering the YMY mindset.

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Author Colby Triolo

Colby Triolo is a knowledge hungry fitness lover. She is at Cornell University studying Computer Science Engineering and someday hopes to change the virtual fitness world. Colby is a Certified Personal Trainer and loves all things fitness. She also thinks the beach is the best place in the world. (IG @colbytriolo_youmakeyou)

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