Who doesn’t want to be happy? In our quest for happiness, we are ready to do just about anything because, the high that comes with being happy is something nobody can resist. Not me, anyway. I mean, why would someone choose to be miserable?
Each one of us has her own ideas of happiness. While some of us successfully manage to go through life balancing our ups and downs and automatically answer “Fine” when someone asks “How are you?”, there are others who feel the need to chase happiness. Some find it in inspiring quotes, some find it in other places and people. My son, for instance, thinks it is a homemade pizza!
I have to admit that reading is one of the things that makes me happy and so it was when I did my regular round of Tom Casano’s website and found this smashing guide titled “The Science behind Happiness”. It was one of those “I-wish-I’d-written-this” kind of guides and the accompanying infographic, eye-catching. I joked to Tom about bumming the guide off his site and he, as usual graciously offered to write one for me – thank you, Tom.
Science Unlocks the Secret of Happiness
by Tom Casano
There’s a good chance that you’ve reached a point in your life where you know that happiness isn’t two kinds of ice cream. Nor is it—sorry, Charlie Brown—a warm puppy.
You’ve tried to find happiness in binge-watching Game of Thrones, you’ve searched for happiness in the shopping mall and in your refrigerator, you’ve gone on a quest to find happiness with your Facebook friends, and all you have to show for it are a cable bill, a pile of receipts, calorie overload, and a lot of likes that don’t mean anything.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
While 51% of Americans do describe themselves as very happy, 48% say they’re not very happy. How do you move into that 51% of the happy sector?
As you can see in the infographic, How to Be Happy in Life: 10 Science-Backed Ways to Be Happy, the research that’s being done on happiness has increased enormously in the past 50 years.
In 2008, super pollster Gallup even entered the happiness measuring field with the beginning of its Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Happiness is more than just an abstract feeling; it’s now an emotion that science has begun to study. And here’s the good news: science has devised a list that you can follow if you’re seeking happiness (and who isn’t?).
Here are the Top Ten Science-Based Ways to Be Happier
Laughing multitasks! It increases your happiness levels and reduces your stress. What makes you laugh? Kitten videos, stand-up routines on Comedy Central, your year-old nephew trying to figure out this walking thing? Laugh often, laugh long, and laugh whenever you get the chance. Happiness is waiting on the other end.
2. Thank you!
Notice that Starbucks barista who’s making your Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato? Your drink might be the seventeenth one she’s made since she started her shift. Why not thank her for her work, and mean it? You thank her, she feels appreciated, and you’ve gotten the good mood momentum going.
Love, and its kissing cousins compassion, empathy, and kindness are all pieces of the happiness jigsaw puzzle. Sure, it’s great to be in love, and that can make you feel happier, but don’t rush to join an online dating service in the hopes that you’ll instantly find happiness. Love has many manifestations and learning to recognize them, even if Cupid isn’t shooting arrows your way, is one way to discover that happiness isn’t out of reach.
Ever feel like you’d like to put one over on your own brain? Just smile. Your brain interprets the physical act of smiling as evidence that you’re happy. You’ve probably heard that people engaged in a telephone conversation can tell whether or not the person on the other end is smiling, even if there’s no way to see the person. That’s because your tone of voice reveals whether or not you’re smiling. If you’re smiling, you’re feeling happy. Just ask your brain!
By training your mind through meditation and mindfulness, you can build a happiness factory in your own being. The Dalai Lama has said that “The real understanding of the true nature of the mind can only be gained through meditation.” Take it from the Dalai Lama: happiness is as close as your own mind.
6. Take it easy
This one makes sense, right? Remember the Eagles lyric: Take it easy, take it easy; don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. When you’re relaxed, you’re not a victim of the things in life that make you stressed. Knowing what relaxes you can help you build up a happiness routine that will teach your stress triggers to leave you alone.
7. Give of yourself
You’ve heard that it’s better to give than to receive. Turns out that it’s true. But giving doesn’t have to come with a price tag. You can give a gift if you want to, but don’t forget that you, yourself, can be the gift. Volunteers achieve a tremendous sense of worth by donating their time to a cause that matters to them. Just opening the door for someone can make you feel as if you’ve given generously of the spirit. There are millions of ways to give to others; just find the one that works for you.
8. Spend Time with Others
Friends and family are all ways to spend time with another living human being whose presence makes you feel better. Maybe Greta Garbo wanted to be alone, but as for the rest of us, we often find that being with others makes us feel happier about ourselves.
9. Do what you love
What do you love to do? Then do it! Whether it’s hiking in the mountains, gardening, taking a walk, or watching a sunset, the things that you enjoy doing are part of the happiness cookbook. You just need to remember the recipes for life activities that feed your happiness appetite.
10. Exercise equals endorphins
Don’t keep those endorphins trapped inside your mind-cloud! Walk, run, swim, do yoga, to get your body moving so that the endorphins, which are the “feel-good” mechanism in your brain, have a chance to cut loose and strut their stuff. Happiness is just an endorphin away!
Science has figured out the key to happiness. Now that you’ve done the research, it’s time to continue the experiment. Remember, your life is your own laboratory, so give the science of happiness a try!
What, according to you, is happiness?