Ask anyone what they want from life, and a common answer will be “to be happy”. Now of course, we know there are many different factors that contribute to happiness, but there are ways you can help yourself feel happier.
Below we look at some science-backed ways to train your brain to be happy.
Take three 30-minute walks a week
A study published by the American Psychosomatic Society found that three 30-minute fast walks or jogs improve recovery from clinical depression.
Also researchers from Penn State reported in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology that when people are more physically active, they have greater feelings of enthusiasm and excitement.
Have a 20-minute replay
Take 20 minutes to write about a positive experience to dramatically improve your happiness. This is because when you write about it, you actually relive it. You also relive it every time you read it – your brain takes you back to the positive experience.
Carry out five random acts of kindness
Unsurprisingly, carrying out random acts of kindness can do wonders for your happiness levels. Sonja Lyubomirsky did a study asking Stanford students to perform five random acts of kindness over the course of a week. When compared to a test group, the group that carried out these actions reported much higher levels of happiness.
Enjoy a total unplug
Taking a time-out from your electrical devices in the evening can really help you to relax and recharge. In fact, a Kansas State University study revealed that having complete downtime after work helps us to recharge for the next day.
Hit your flow
Your ‘flow’ is when you find yourself absorbed by an activity. It should challenge you, but not so much that you feel stressed about it. Whatever this activity is for you, find it and use it to boost your happiness.
Have a two-minute meditation
A team from Massachusetts General Hospital examined brain scans of people before and after they took a course on mindfulness meditation. They found that after they completed the course, the parts of the brain that are associated with compassion and self awareness grew, while the parts associated with stress shrank.
Studies also confirm that you can actually rewire your brain to raise happiness levels using the power of meditation.