What makes us happy is a huge factor in health and wellness and we all have different views on what it is and how we experience it. One factor that comes to mind might be exercise as there’s plenty of discussion in the media and how it raises mood by releasing feel-good endorphins. Others might include sleep, spending time with friends and family, helping others and planning a holiday! I’ve picked three less obvious things you can implement to feel happier today, or any day! which are also backed by scientific research
1. Go Outside
A study by the University of Sussex asked over 20,000 people to rate their relative wellbeing via a smartphone app. They collected over a million responses and the data showed that people were most happy when spending time outside in green or natural surroundings rather than urban environments.
You don’t need to spend much time outdoors, Harvard happiness expert Shawn Achor says spending just 20 minutes outside in good weather boosts positive mood, improved thinking and working memory. This is good news for those of us worried about fitting new habits into an already-busy life as can easily fit into a work journey or lunch break.
Good news in Wales where the weather might not always be as good! The American Meteorological Society published research in 2011 that found happiness is maximised at 13.9°C, so it doesn’t even need to be that warm and sunny.
2. Practice smiling
A genuine sparkly-eyed smile raises everyone’s spirits but there’s evidence to say even a forced smile can make us feel better and a Michigan State University study shows is more effective when we backed up with positive thoughts. It’s important to practice “real smiles” where you use your eye sockets. It’s very easy to spot the difference!
According to Dr Jeremy Dean smiling has other benefits, helping to alleviate pain we feel in troubling circumstances and helping us to perform better in attention focused tasks. On his website Psyblog he even states it might make you live longer!
3. Practice gratitude
Results published in the marvellously titled “Journal of Happiness Studies” showed writing letters of gratitude increased people’s happiness and life satisfaction whilst decreasing depressive symptoms.
“Counting your blessings” may well be true but there may be other factors worth a mention. The act of journalling or writing down thoughts feelings and dreams is a great habit for self-improvement and often mood-enhancing.
The act of sharing- with your diary or with another person is also a great way of reinforcing the good things that have happened during your day. Next time you get home why not ask your partner what were the three best things about their day. If you don’t have a life partner pick up the phone or ask a work colleague at the end of a shift. Its great way of focusing on the better things in life, and very often they are the most simple.