The key to happiness is one of the most fundamental human questions. Scientists have found that being happy is a subjective feeling that is within your control. There are a number of ways to help you find happiness in your everyday life, and once this starts to happen, other areas in life, such as physical health, can also start to improve.
What exactly is happiness?
Happiness is a complex set of emotions that are subjective to each person and experienced differently by everyone. Generally speaking, happiness refers to an overall state of well-being, contentment, and satisfaction with life.
Happiness involves different positive emotions, a sense of fulfillment, and an overall positive outlook on life.
What makes people happy?
Happiness can stem from various factors, including personal relationships, achievements, a sense of purpose, health, and self-acceptance. It is influenced by both external and internal factors, such as social connections, financial security, personal values, and mindset.
However, being happy is not consistent and can fluctuate throughout your life. It is a dynamic and multifaceted experience that various life events, circumstances, and individual perspectives can influence. Some people may find happiness in simple pleasures and everyday experiences, while others may seek it through long-term goals and accomplishments.
Side effects of unhappiness
A number of studies have shown that unhappiness can have negative effects on your life. Unhappiness can lead to physical symptoms, such as an increased risk of diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
When people are unhappy, it can cause increased symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, which can significantly affect daily functioning and quality of life. Unhappiness can also cause strained relationships and impaired decision-making and increase the likelihood of someone turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive drinking or recreational drug use.
The difference between instant pleasure and happiness
Happiness is different from pleasure or immediate gratification. While pleasure can provide temporary enjoyment, happiness typically involves a deeper sense of well-being and contentment that extends beyond instant pleasure.
Examples of things that cause instant pleasure but are not shown to cause long-term happiness are:
- Overconsumption of junk foods. Consuming foods that are not nutritious may make you feel good at the moment, but these foods can have negative effects on mental and physical health.
- Excessive screen time. A large problem in today’s society is the overuse of cell phones, TVs, and computers. These activities can lead to social isolation and disregard for building in other areas of life.
- Impulsive shopping. Making an impulsive purchase can lead to instant excitement; however, over time, these purchases can lead to financial instability, clutter, and a sense of need, which all are shown to decrease mood.
- Procrastination. Putting off important tasks can seem relaxing, but this habit can lead to a sense of urgency later on and ultimately lead to increased stress and anxiety.
How to boost your mood and increase happiness
There are several science-backed ways to increase happiness and well-being in your everyday life. These methods are proven ways to increase overall satisfaction in your life. Remember, these tips are small ways that you can build upon over time, and although they may seem hard at first, over time, you may notice feelings of overall satisfaction in your life due to these small practices.
Regularly expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of your life has been linked to increased happiness.
You can keep a gratitude journal, write thank-you notes, or simply take a few minutes each day to reflect on things you appreciate to help increase your sense of happiness.
Engage in acts of kindness
Helping others has been shown to boost your own happiness. Acts of kindness release dopamine in the brain and contribute to a sense of purpose and connection with others.
Simple gestures like holding the door for someone or smiling as you pass someone on the street, are simple yet effective ways to increase happiness. Another way to engage in acts of kindness is by volunteering for a charitable organization in your community. Offering a hand to community organizations is a great way to build connections and also increase happiness.
Develop social connections
Building and maintaining strong relationships is crucial for happiness.
Spend quality time with loved ones, make an effort to meet new people, and nurture your social support network. Engaging in meaningful conversations and shared experiences can promote well-being. Although following people on social media can increase a sense of belonging, building in-person relationships for true connection and fulfillment is important.
Engage in regular physical exercise
Exercise is beneficial for physical health and significantly impacts mental well-being.
Regular physical activity releases endorphins, reduces stress, and improves mood. Find activities you enjoy, such as walking your dog, short HIIT workouts, or lifting weights, which can all positively impact happiness. It’s easy to start small, with 5 minutes a day, increasing as you get more comfortable.
Prioritize self-care and relaxation
Taking care of yourself is essential for happiness.
Engage in activities promoting relaxation and stress reduction, such as walking in nature, pursuing hobbies that bring you joy, having a warm bath, or reading a favorite book. It can also be nice to treat yourself to a massage or manicure if your financial situation allows you to do so.
Focus on personal growth and learning
Setting and pursuing goals that align with your values and interests can enhance happiness.
Constantly challenging yourself, acquiring new skills, and seeking opportunities for personal growth can contribute to a sense of purpose and fulfillment. There are a number of online courses available for a low cost or free that can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. It’s also beneficial to seek out learning opportunities within your community, such as knitting classes or walking groups, that can all increase social interactions, increase physical health, and help develop personal growth.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Research suggests that practicing mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, enhance well-being, and increase happiness.
Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as focusing on your breath or engaging in mindful activities like yoga or deep breathing. There are a number of mental health and therapy apps available that can help improve mindfulness practice and also promote improved mental health and well-being.
Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in physical and mental health. Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule and create a sleep-friendly environment to ensure you get sufficient rest. Quality sleep can improve mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being.
Try going to bed an hour earlier than normal and turning off your phone 1 hour before bed. Blue light has been shown to decrease sleep length and can negatively impact sleep quality. By turning off your phone one hour before bed, you can increase the quality of your sleep and promote happiness.
Remember that happiness is a subjective experience, and what works for one person may not work for another. Experimenting and finding the strategies that resonate with you personally is essential. Additionally, seeking support from mental health professionals is also beneficial in addressing specific challenges and promoting overall well-being.
Happiness is an emotional state that is experienced differently by each individual.
Happiness can stem from a number of different factors, including personal relationships, achievements, a sense of purpose, and connection, and these are all influenced by a person’s perception and mindset.
Unhappiness has been shown to increase the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Unhappiness can also increase symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Finding the right ways to increase happiness can be beneficial to mental and physical health. Finding pleasure in small things, practicing gratitude, and getting enough sleep can all help improve happiness.
- Annual Review of Public Health. Happiness and Health.
- Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The Association Between Emotional Well-Being and the Incidence of Stroke in Older Adults