1) Don’t equate a higher income to happiness
Angus Deaton, an economist at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University and Daniel Kahneman analysed surveys of 450,000 Americans that questioned people’s daily happiness and their general satisfaction. The data showed that people’s happiness grew as the level of income increased, however, after $75,000, the effect had levelled out.
Deaton has pointed out that while having an income of over this amount might make people feel as though they have a better life, it will not do much for their daily mood. So don’t feel as though you have to strive to get that six figure salary to be a happier person, as it may not do you as much good as you may have hoped.
2) Don’t give up
San Francisco State University has highlighted a piece of research that has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies which claims people who strive to achieve a goal they find difficult will become happier in the long run. The study shows that, although difficult activities will decrease happiness for a short period, when participants involved in the research looked back to their days of struggle as a whole, they were reported to feel happier and satisfied.
Conquering temporary stress and unhappiness seems to be the key to long-term happiness. Assistant professor of Psychology at the University, Ryan Howell has stated:
“No pain, no gain is the rule when it comes to gaining happiness from increasing our competence at something”
3) Spend at least 20 minutes enjoying the outdoors
Shawn Achor has spent 12 years at Harvard University, researching what makes people happy. In his book The Happiness Advantage, he claims that going outside when the sun is out and the temperature is nice does even more than just increasing happiness. In his book, he writes:
“One study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory”
Trent University Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet completed some research for The David Suzuki Foundation asking participants to spend 30 minutes outside, surrounded by nature, every day for 30 days. They reported that they were feeling significant increases in their sense of well-being, more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity and sleep disturbances were all reduced. So don’t underestimate the power of the outdoors!
4) Break a bad habit – even if it’s just for one day
We usually indulge in a bad habit as a way of relieving stress. However, Christopher Kahler, a professor at Brown University, conducted research with his colleagues that suggested that breaking a bad habit, such as smoking, will actually make you happier.
The study included 236 men and women who were looking to quit smoking. Participants were tested for symptoms of depression one week before quitting and the weeks after quitting. 77 of those who quit temporarily saw that their low mood lifted while they were no longer smoking, but it descended again when they resumed. The 99 who didn’t quit remained the unhappiest while the 33 who abstained throughout the study reported the happiest feelings. The other participants didn’t appear to fall into a clear category.
5) Plan a holiday – even if it’s ages away
In an article published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, 974 people were asked about their happiness before and after going on holiday. It appears that just being able to put a date of a holiday or a break can increase happiness, because of the excitement it creates.
The anticipation of a holiday is when happiness is at its highest point, according to the study. The return from a holiday is recorded to cause happiness to return to its previous state and not increase any further.
6) Grow up
Although growing up comes with more responsibilities and the demand of a reduction in a care-free lifestyle that is permissible when young, research shows that growing older can actually increase happiness.
According to healthcanal.com, a new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that ageing results in an improvement and development of skills in regulating emotions. For example, the smaller but close-knit group of friends that older people are more likely to have than younger people may show that they’re choosing to put themselves in pleasant situations with people they like.
7) Step away from the gadgets
One of the more common ways to improve happiness is sleep. But something may be interfering with this important task. According to an article published for BMC Psychiatry, computer use can cause both sleep disturbance and mental health issues.
The problem is also associated with being constantly reachable. With all the technology we have access to, people now expect us to be constantly available to answer messages and calls. So the solution is to switch your devices off for a while each day, especially just before we go to sleep. Usually, the last thing we see before we go to bed is the glare from our phones.