Come on, get happy
Have you ever wondered if there’s a science to being happy? Well it turns out there is and we have the facts to prove it!
By Michelle Newman
Bury yourself in a book
If you’re already a bookworm then you’re in luck. In 2013 the Book Trust found that people who read regularly are not only happier and more satisfied with life, they are also more likely to feel a real sense of worth from what they do. Amazingly just six minutes of reading a day can help to alleviate stress by up to 68% and improve your self-esteem.
Turn up the heat
Surprisingly the temperature of the room can have a big effect on how happy we feel. According to The American Meteorological Society we are happiest at 13.9°C, so get changing those thermostats. Temperature can also have a big effect on how productive you are throughout the day too!
Lots of us feel like having a bit of a boogie when a good song plays, but the University of Missouri have proved that cheerful music has an effect on our well-being. They found that the positive mood of participants increased, when they listened to happy and up-beat music. Pharrell obviously got the memo …
Mindfulness is becoming really popular these days and it’s basically about being present in the moment that you’re in, whether that means doing the washing up or even brushing your teeth. Harvard psychologists discovered that people who have a tendency to daydream and let their minds wander are less happy that those who pay attention to what they’re doing at the time.
Essential shut eye
They say money doesn’t make you happy, but a good night’s sleep can make you feel like you’ve won the lotto. According to Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep a night will make you feel happier than getting a raise in your salary.
It might surprise you to hear that the best part of a holiday is in the planning and not the actual holiday itself. Researchers from the Netherlands have identified that we’re happiest when planning our trip and that our ‘happiness levels’ go right back to normal when we get home. Our advice? Plan the holiday of a lifetime – going on said holiday, is optional.
Turn that frown upside down
Every time we smile our bodies are tricking our brain into thinking we’re happy. It all happens through a biological process and because our brain thinks we’re happy, our mood automatically improves. (Unfortunately, this is unlikely to last very long though and is generally more of a momentary thing). Other studies claim that smiling can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, so it’s worth giving it a go.
It might sound like an obvious one, but surrounding yourself with and spending time with happy people, will make you feel better. The Framingham Heart Study, which surveyed almost 5,000 people over a 20-year period, found that we are 15.3% more likely to be happier when we know another happy person very well.
Man’s best friend
Dogs are known as ‘man’s best friend’ but in fact any pet you have can make you feel happier. Researcher Allen McConnell, discovered that the ‘support’ we get from our pets is the same as what we get from someone in our family. He also found that pet owners are less likely to feel depressed and lonely.
The great outdoors
The University of Michigan conducted a study, which found that taking a walk outside with a group of people can improve our mental health and increase positivity, while lowering feelings of depression. Organise a daily walk with some friends and try it for yourself.