Who doesn’t want to be happy? And who doesn’t want a quick fix to help them get out of their funk on particularly bad day? You’re right, no one. That’s why we created this list of 17 Scientifically Proven ways to boost your happiness now. Because you shouldn’t spend another moment of you’re life feeling anything but! 🙂
1. Go Outside
[pullquote]Fun Fact: Happiness is maximized at 13.9ºC or 57ºF. [/pullquote]
It’s no surprise that spending some time in the great outdoors can help boost your mood. But did you know that studies show that people who live near green spaces have significantly better mental health than people who don’t? It’s true, but don’t worry if you’re stuck in the concrete jungle, looking at photos of nature scenes can also stimulate the same part of your brain, making you feel happier, more positive and stable. Besides these positive emotional effects, you also get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun which helps prevent depression. So get outside, and get moving!
2. Eat Well
Another no-brainer when it comes to feeling good is eating good. It really is true that we are what we eat, so putting nutrient dense foods in your body consistently will not only improve your physical health, but also your mental health.Recent studies have shown that people who eat a healthy amount of fruits and veggies on a daily basis have better mental health and greater happiness than people who don’t.
[pullquote]READ MORE: Greatist.com has an awesome article on all the nutrients that can help boost your mood here![/pullquote]
There are also certain nutrients such that can help put you in an extra good mood. Calcium has been shown to help women in the regulation of hormones and reduction of PMS symptoms. And getting enough Iron can improve energy levels by supporting the oxygen flow in the blood, leading to reduced fatigue and even depression.
Many of us believe we simply don’t have time to squeeze an effective workout in our busy day. Well, you may be surprised to know that you can actually reap the happiness benefits of exercise in as little as 7 minutes per day.
In Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage, people with depression were separated into different groups and treated with medication, exercise or combination of both. The results were significant and showed that the group treated with exercise alone had far less of a chance of slipping back into depression than those treated with medication.
[pullquote]READ MORE: What actually happens to our brains during exercise?[/pullquote]
While this may be due to the endorphins that are released during exercise having a positive effect on our moods, the study also showed that people who exercised regularly were happier with themselves and therefore had a better overall outlook on life.
Feeling down? It could be all those negative thoughts floating around in your head. Many times, these thoughts can go unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the same amount of power over our moods.
[pullquote]FUN FACT: Practicing gratitude can also make you healthier![/pullquote]
Dwelling on these negative feelings will only make you feel worse over time, your best bet to get them completely out of your head is to write them down. After that, you may want to re-read them to see how silly some of them can be or simply throw them away to get them out of your life for good.
On the other hand, writing down things that make you happy or things that you are grateful for will also help keep your mood up over time. According to one study, keeping a daily gratitude journal showed that you can triple your positive feelings over time, who doesn’t want that?
Making conversation of any kind can be very beneficial to your overall happiness. In fact, the small-talk that you make with the clerk at the grocery store can actually be good for your health!
In a recent study in Chicago, participants were given a $5 Starbucks gift card in exchange for striking up a conversation with a stranger on their daily commute. Another group was given the same but not asked to make small talk with other train riders. The results showed that those who had a short chat with the person next to them had a much more positive experience than those who did not.
This doesn’t only apply to small-talk, in fact, a study has shown that people who have more meaningful conversations have even higher well-being than those who only engage in small talk. So where ever you are and whatever you’re doing, make time for a little chat to boost your mood!
6. Be a Friend
[pullquote]FUN FACT: Good Friends fire up your nervous system and trigger the release of endorphins.[/pullquote]
Engaging with friends is one of the best ways to nail both #5 and #6 in our list in one go! Research has shown that people with positive friendships tend to be more confident, less stressed and happier overall.
Wondering why? Friendships increase your sense of belonging and help to improve your self-confidence and self-worth. They help you to cope with serious problems like a death, loss of job or divorce and they also often encourage healthier lifestyles.
People are often intimidated by the idea of meditating, but with a little practice, this daily ritual can become part of your essential mental health first-aid kit.
Sure, it can be tough calming those many (often negative) voices in your head but the results are definitely worth the effort. Research has shown that eight weeks of daily meditation can lead to substantial increases in overall happiness.
[pullquote]If you’re new to meditation, try the app Headspace for a guided approach.[/pullquote]
While it can be tricky to get started, there are a ton of strategies that show you how to begin this gateway to happiness in no time at all.
8. Clean Up
Clutter can effect our moods in a variety of ways and it doesn’t just apply to last night’s dirty dishes. Studies have shown that living or working in a cluttered space can significantly increase stress, which leads to lower moods. Therefore, organizing and tidying your things can drastically increase your mood. This also applies in the sense of productivity, and clutter is a common result of procrastination.
Checking things off your to-do list gives you a mental boost, so getting around to washing those dishes or doing the laundry can actually make you happier, as much as you may dread it! When we set small goals and complete them, we feel a sense of accomplishment which can help us feel more purpose and control, along with a give our self-esteem a little boost.
This is another tip you may have already guessed, but it definitely bears repeating! Sleep is an essential component in mood formation. Too little sleep and we are grumpy and irritable, but with just the right amount we feel energized and happy to take on anything the day has to throw at us.
Not only will the recommended 8 hours help give your mood a boost, but a quick cat nap can also help. Research shows that not getting enough sleep can lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety, and over time it can even lead to health problems like hypertension, diabetes and even decreased life expectancy.
So next time you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, have a quick cat nap to help boost your spirits! Plus, it’s a good excuse to lay on the couch and do nothing for a bit.
10. Light a Candle
[pullquote]FUN FACT: Vanilla is seen as the most calming and positive scent by most people, with Clementine being the second.[/pullquote]
You probably already know that scent can have a huge effect on your overall mood. Just think of all the times you’ve walked into a home to the smell of fresh baked cookies, or walked along the shore of the ocean and smelled the fresh salt air. Not only can these scents make you feel instantly happier, but scent is the best way to bring back cherished memories, which can also give you a mood boost!
11. Do Yoga
[pullquote]READ MORE: Studies have shown heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with happiness and immune function.[/pullquote]
Yoga fits into a couple different happiness categories, but since it has such great results we decided to put it all on its own. Yoga includes the benefits of exercise as well as the positive effects of meditation all in one quick two-for-one deal.
Research has shown yoga may in fact be more effective at boosting your mood than any other type exercise. It has also been shown to improve immunity and reduce stress which will keep you happier in the long run.
12. Listen to Music
We’re sure you’re well aware of the different effects music can have on your mood. Listening to a sad, slow song may make you start to feel down or even cry. However, switching that up to a happy, upbeat tune can make you happier and more energetic in an instant!
[pullquote]Here’s a link to Pharrell’s song, Happy. We dare you to listen to it and not want to dance![/pullquote]
Listening to songs that get you wanting to sing along or dance causes the brain to release dopamine, the happy chemical, which causes you to feel that rush of euphoria.
13. Help People
[pullquote]FUN FACT: 100 hours per year (2 hours per week) is the ideal time to spend helping others to enrich our lives.[/pullquote]
It may seem funny to think about, but helping other people become happy can actually make you happier as well. In Professor Martin Seligman’s book entitled, Flourish, he states that, “we scientists have found that doing a kindness products the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
The Journal of Happiness also states that participants reported feeling significantly happier when purchasing a gift for someone else than something for themselves and in a similar study, people reported the same effect when helping others directly.
14. Use Colour
Although you may not consciously realize it, we tend to associate colours with emotions and these can be powerful whether they’re negative or positive.
According to LiveScience.com, happy people tend to choose the colour Yellow to describe how they feel, whereas anxious and depressed people describe themselves as grey or black. Green also plays a large role in calming the mind and is associated with happiness, peace, hope and comfort.
Using colours in your daily life to help increase your mood is a great way to give yourself a quick pick-me-up. Try giving your phone a green background or adding a splash of yellow to your sofa with throw pillows. We’re sure just the sight of them will have you in a better mood already!
15. Spend Money
While this one may seem like a dream come true to shopaholics, the truth is, there’s a catch. Yes, spending money on things can make you feel better temporarily but spending money on experiences will keep you happy for longer.
The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than those who spend their money on just things but people tend to go for items since they are more easily quantifiable. So instead of picking up that next toy, consider switching it out for a trip to the zoo or ride in a hot air balloon. You’re sure to have a blast and have happy memories to look back on.
16. Look at Something Pretty
Just like looking at scenic photos can make you instantly happier, looking at other things that are beautiful can have the same effect.
HTC conducted a study where participants looked at and interacted with things that were either beautiful, functional or both. What they found out was that the objects that were both beautiful and functional triggered feelings of calmness and contentment and reduced negative feelings by almost a third.
17. Be Older
Okay, since you can’t control this one we are throwing it in as a bonus fact and because we thought it was downright interesting!
[pullquote]FUN FACT: One study has shown that happiness peaks at age 23 and then again at age 69.[/pullquote]
A study in 2012 showed that older people tend to get happier as they get older. Clearly, there is still some debate surrounding this fact, especially if you’ve seen the movie Grumpy Old Men, but it seems to be a general consensus that people do, in fact, grow happier.
The researchers attributed increased happiness and aging with the fact that older people tend to know what they want and seek it out in order to remain happy. They “prune” the people out of their lives that bring them down and put more emphasis on their well-being.