Have you ever looked up the word “happiness” in the dictionary?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a state of well-being and contentment”, and “a pleasurable or satisfying experience”.
Happiness simply can’t be defined. It looks different for everyone. We talk about it in the “What if you just want to be happy?” article, exploring the real meaning and achievement of happiness. It’s about meaning, it’s about well-being, and it’s about truly knowing yourself. It’s about your purpose in life.
Neuroscientists have taken a great interest in understanding the science of happiness. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? And they got to a conclusion: Science says we can all learn how to achieve it.
Here’s a look at some life-changing daily or weekly habits that science says will make you happier.
1. Smile more
Did you know that the gesture of simply smiling can make you happier? This happens due to the fact that the brain releases dopamine even when you fake a smile. So, even if you don’t feel it, take a few seconds around your day and smile. It can help you get an instant good mood. So do it, especially when you are feeling low. Crack a smile, it will make a difference. And, don’t forget the golden rule: “treat others the way you want to be treated”. Smile at everyone, especially if they are dragging themselves down the street with a frown on their faces. It will make their day and your day.
2. Get better sleep
The right amount of sleep is vital for your health and well-being. You can check “How much sleep do you really need?” and find out how many hours of sleep you need.
Sleep is fundamental to your well-being and to a happier life. It will lead to rest and it will make you happier. If you can get a good night's sleep you will be able to be more focused, think clearly, process memories, and be able to carry on with your day with a better attitude... happier.
3. Be grateful
Are you aware that practicing gratitude can have an impact on feelings of happiness? Several studies show that appreciating life affects our brains positively. And you don’t even have to find big things to be grateful for, you can focus on simple things, like nature, warm water, health, be alive... And if you don’t feel you are grateful for anything, it’s all about the journey of finding it that matters. Express gratitude to others. Say thank you and daily remember and identify the things that you’re thankful for. It doesn’t have to be anything major, the sun on your skin or the ocean breeze in your hair. Be aware of all the positive things around you and show gratitude for them.
4. Give compliments
You. You that are reading this. You are beautiful just the way you are.
Giving a sincere compliment can give your mood a big boost and make someone’s day a little brighter.
There is actually research that proves that conducting acts of kindness can help you feel happier. So why not make someone happier while you can also feel happy?
5. Hug the people you love
The first rule of happiness: stay away from the people who bring you down. Instead, choose to be around positive people that you love and bring out the best of you. Spend quality time with them, have fun, and don’t forget to give extra hugs. Neuroscientists say a hug releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala making you feel better and happier. This happens because our brains are programmed to release feel-good chemicals whenever we touch another person we like.
Simply put, hugging it’s an amazing way to boost your happiness.
6. Ditch your phone
You would be amazed by the difference it can make. Just try and unplug. You don’t need to go off the grid. Just do it for an amount of time: go for a walk, enjoy nature, be with family or your love and leave the phone behind. Research shows that there’s a connection between digital devices and mental health: people who are addicted to their phones are more likely to show signs of depression.
So forget about social media, connect with yourself and the ones you love. Read, exercise, or cook, be with a friend but ditch your phone while you do it.
7. Give back
Being compassionate and giving really increases your feeling of happiness. Contrary to the general assumption that human beings are selfish, you can actually feel pleasure when you are giving money or your time to others. This is also backed by science: this study concluded that people who spend money on others are happier than the ones who spend money on themselves.
There’s nothing like bringing happiness to others. In doing so, you’ll be creating genuine happiness for yourself.
8. Learn to let go
This one might not be easy, but it’s one of the most important.
Before anything else, forgiveness is about self-care. It doesn’t have to be a reconciliation, and it’s not about the other person. You should do it for yourself. You have to let go in order to be free and more light-hearted. You also don’t need to forget, but to be able to move on, you need to forgive. Write down your feelings on a piece of paper. Write everything down, all the pain, all the words, and in the end read it loud for you. After this, burn that paper, and feel all the pain going away. Letting go it’s about you because the other person won’t feel your pain, only you. You need to get rid of it so you can move on and feel the happiness you truly deserve.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” - Anne Frank
Whenever you are feeling a bit low-spirited, think about all the good things life has offered you and still does. Using a piece of jewelry as a reminder, mantra, or manifestation of your happiness can do wonders. For instance, look at your happiness signet ring and remember to leave the negative feelings and thoughts aside and go for the route of well-being and happiness.
There’s no magic formula to achieve an ideal of happiness. It is not an easy path and it’s not the same for everyone. Take these tips into consideration and start to forge your own path.
However, if these habits are stressing you out, then don’t follow them! You’ll find out what’s best for you.
Remember: everyone’s version of happiness is different.