Happy New Year!
We say it to each other and we resolve it to ourselves. This year will be a good year, a happy year. Sometimes it may seem easier said than done, but being happy isn’t out of reach. Truly!
In fact, science tells us that 40% of a person’s happiness is derived from intentional behavior. Fortunately, scientists have also started studying what we can do to truly become happy. This is important research given that happiness can be critical to our health. The state of being happy is known to improve heart health, increase healing time, and perhaps even prolong our lives.
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Given the importance of happiness, we decided to research some of the simple science-approved ways to be happier, things you can do for yourself.
Here is a list of our favorite tips. Enjoy!
#1 Plan a vacation
For those of us living the 9 to 5 grind, life can become a bit mundane. Of course, the age-old remedy for that is vacation. Recently, however, scientists studied the impact vacations have on our happiness. What did they find? People tend to be most happy when they are anticipating a vacation. Who are we to argue with science? Get online and book that trip!
Believe it or not, smiling’s impact on happiness has been a hot topic of scientific research since the 1970s. Luckily, the results haven’t wavered. Genuine smiles can help produce feelings of genuine happiness. The key is finding something that truly makes you smile. Is it videos of baby goats playing or maybe a watching sunset on the ocean? Pursue whatever makes you smile.
#3 Eat chocolate
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like chocolate – and perhaps for several good reasons. Scientists believe that chocolate has mood-enhancing properties, that it boosts cognitive function, and may also play a role in lowering blood pressure. Not bad for something you want to munch anyway.
#4 Give thanks
In a hustle-bustle world, it is easy to constantly focus on the negative. Science tells us that is not a great outlook. Instead, try focusing each day on the things you are grateful for. According to some studies, people who regularly practice being grateful “experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.” Sounds like we should all be grateful for this study.
#5 Think fast
In one fascinating study, scientists at Princeton and Harvard asked subjects to watch a recorded television show on fast-forward. They found that processing the show quickly caused an elevated mood almost immediately. Thinking fast is believed to release dopamine in the brain, which is one of the chemicals responsible for happiness.
#6 Get out
Scientists have long understood that isolation can lead to unhappiness. The cure for this is to get out and visit with friends. In one famous study, those who acted talkative and assertive while out and about chatting with people around them reported feeling positive emotions such as excitement and enthusiasm. These results included introverts, so go mingle—and think of how much more thankful you’ll be for your solitude afterward.
#7 Be charitable
An economist at the University of Oregon took MRI images of people’s brains while he delivered one of two messages to them: (1) they could keep all the money they had earned, or (2) they would give their money to charity. He found that the pleasure centers of the brain were activated at the thought of being charitable. Anyone who has ever donated time or money to a cause they believed in knows this one is true.
#8 Keep your friends close
Finally, it seems that happiness really is infectious. Scientists have discovered that people who have happy friends or loved ones living within a one-mile radius tend to be 25% happier. The same result comes from living with a happy partner or even having happy neighbors. This is definitely something to keep in mind as you plan your next move.
Whatever makes you happy, OneLegal hopes you get plenty of it in 2018. Happy New Year, everyone!