There is no single, magical, instant solution to be happy, simply because happiness is complex and there are many factors that can influence it. However, there are many small things that we can do to have a happier life, and every little helps.
One particular research revealed recently that “happiness is good”, i.e., doing good things for you, doing things you are good at, and doing good things for others. Simply put, these “3 goods” imply:
a) Doing good for you
Taking care of yourself, your wellbeing, your financial security, and your work-life balance.
b) Doing things you are good at
Focusing on what you are good at and can do well to boost your confidence.
c) Doing good things for others
Being kind, being of help, and fostering your most important relationships.
Happiness implies doing good things for us, doing good things for others, and doing things we are good at.
But researchers don’t seem to have enough and they keep going deeper and deeper in the pursuit of happiness. There have been many studies in the recent years as to what makes people happy and, while there doesn’t seem to be one unified, categorical answer, we’ve prepared a summary with the main findings. How many of the following are you truly working on? Check them out.
1. Having a Rich and Strong Social Life.
Plenty of research indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need, so much that life goals associated with a commitment to family, friends, social and political involvement apparently promotes life satisfaction. In contrast, life goals associated with career success and material gains seem to be detrimental to life satisfaction.
A person may have strong and deep relationships with just a few people, or a broad and more superficial relationship with many. Both count. Invest time in strengthening and broadening your social networks so you can have fun, laugh and smile often.
2. Being Active
There are tons of evidence showing that exercising is good both for our physical and our mental well-being, as well as an excellent mood booster. Why? Endorphins are behind it. It also reduces negative thoughts and increases your perceived ability to cope.
Exercising has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it can even help to fight depression. In a study mentioned in Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage, three groups of people treated their depression with medication, exercise, or a combination of both. The results showed that the relapse rate of those treated just with exercise was significantly less that the others: 9% against 38% and 31% respectively.
You don’t need to choose a vigorous activity, but one that suits your routine, availability, health and desire.
3. Being confident in oneself
Having a sense of self-worth will clearly contribute to your happiness. Focusing on your wins and not on your losses will make you more confident – although, of course, it takes time. Confidence triggers serotonin, a chemical your brain releases when you feel respected by others and at ease with yourself.
According to studies, people who like and accept themselves feel good about life in general.
4. Being Mindful and Grateful
Being present in every situation we are in will make us enjoy them more. The more aware and present we are, the better we are able to identify what really matters to us and appreciate what we have. Remember that it is grateful people who are happy, not the other way around.
Learn to take notice and be grateful. Relax, experience life outdoors, or meditate, so you can become calmer and enjoy life with less stress.
5. Learning new things
When was the last time you enrolled in a course or decided to explore a new topic by yourself? Learning has a very positive impact on our well-being: it keeps our brains active, exposes us to new ideas and points of view, boosts our creativity and imagination, encourages social interaction and a more active life and, probably more importantly, it may well increase our self-confidence and resilience.
6. Having Goals to Pursue
We all needs goal that can keep us motivated. They have to big challenging enough to make the trick, but not too big to put us off and frustrate us.
Having goals and going after them gives us a sense of purpose. The dopamine our brain releases after achieving goals will boost our drive, focus and concentration, and will give us this nice feeling of satisfaction when we accomplish something.
7. Being Kind
Numerous studies show the positive feedback loop between kindness and happiness, meaning that one encourages the other. It is proven that engaging in deliberate acts of kindness leads to increase wellbeing.
8. Attitude is the main key
A positive attitude can have profound effects on your happiness level. People who view their lives positively and embrace optimism experience lower levels of depression and stress.
9. Recharge your batteries: sleep properly & get outside more
In “The Happiness Advantage”, Shawn Achor says that “Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage; one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory…”
Kill two birds with one stone: go cycling, running or walking (i.e. exercise outdoors), or meet a friend, sit together under a tree, or go roller-skating together (best deal – three birds with one stone: social life + exercising + being outdoors).