Science-Based Habits to Achieve Greater Happiness
The last few months alone have been hard on everyone from kids staying at home to adults worrying about their health, job security and lives post-COVID 19. We don’t want to claim we have the solutions to all these problems, but what we do have are scientific insights into habits we might adopt to increase our happiness – almost immediately.
Happiness might be our end goal and desire, but we should not dwell on it and spend our days and nights thinking “I should be happy” or “I want to be happier”. Pursuing happiness as some sort of blissful state can be counterproductive. As an alternative, scientists suggest nurturing existing relationships. If you are in a comfortable relationship, work on making it better. If you are in a bad one, repair it.
Many of us wait for an apology or a sign of remorse or regret in order to forgive. Yet, data suggests we only harm ourselves when we do this. Forgiveness allows us better control over our anger, avoid depression and, more generally, acquire emotional stability in the process. In other words, by cultivating a habit of forgiveness, you can become an “emotional rock”. Forgiveness aids in repairing bad relationships. Your first step is saying “I forgive”.
Researchers have found that taking a sincere interest in others can boost your mood in as little as 12 minutes! Make sure, however, that you don’t get too involved in someone else’s problems or help people who don’t ask for it. Be ready and willing to help others, but only when asked.
A group of brain scientists have found generosity breeds a feeling of happiness – instantly. However, our aim should not be to make ourselves feel better, but rather to help the other person. Thus, when giving a gift, we should make an effort to purchase what the other person wants to receive, not what we think he or she needs or lacks.
The other side of the generosity coin is gratitude. For example, when someone gives us a gift, if we respond with a simple genuine “thank you” we improve our own well-being. Not only that, but keeping a gratitude journal and writing down three things we are grateful for in the morning is one of the best ways to start our day right.
Many of us tend to engage in nostalgia, especially when it brings positive memories. Yet, while nostalgia seems harmless, science suggests it can lead to unhappiness and even depression. It assigns that we are not accepting the reality of change. Living in the present moment is both realistic and psychologically more stable. We should resist thoughts of the past or future—no matter how great or bad they were or seem to be. Stay with the present.
Admittedly, even remembering these habits can be tough, so here’s a cheat sheet:
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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor.
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