Happiness hacks that really make a difference

These happiness hacks have been gleaned from the World Happiness Report, a comprehensive study that ranks 156 countries by their reported happiness levels. The report is released annually and joins a long list of reports about being happy. Happiness has been studied for thousands of years starting with Confuscius and Buddha around 500 to 600 BC.

Modern research into what makes us content and happy has really hit its straps in the last 25 years. When I started studying psychology in the early 1990s happiness and human wellbeing didn’t rate a mention. Today there are entire university degrees exploring what makes us happy.


More happiness hacks here: Can you actually choose happy?


Fast happiness facts

•  There’s happiness and then there’s happiness. Hedonism is ‘pleasure seeking’ happiness. It’s the new shoes, the great night out or the rapture of a new love affair.  It’s fun, it’s a high but it doesn’t last. Real lasting happiness, or contentment as I like to think of it, is eudaimonism or ‘human flourishing’. This is what the researchers focus on in happiness studies.  Psychologists call it ‘subjective wellbeing’.

•  Money will buy happiness but only up to a point. Once you’re clothed, fed and have a safe, secure place to live, the extra cash means nada.

•  We get happier as we get older.

•  We’re happier when it’s cold.  13.9 degrees celsius is the temp at which Japanese students are happiest.  I wonder if that’s the same for Australians?

Here are some quick happiness hacks I’ve put together from the World Happiness Report. They are so easy that you may be doing many of them already. Give these things proper attention because they really do matter.

4 quick happiness hacks

Happiness hacks that really work

1. Learn new things

Do you buy things to make yourself happy? New clothes? New gadgets? New car? New purchases make us happy for a short while, then we adapt to their presence and our happiness dwindles. It’s not lasting happiness.

Research tells us that if you spend your money on experiences or learning something, your happiness increases and that happiness sticks around. The new experience becomes part of you, and you continue to draw on that and grow as a result.

Research tells us that if you spend your money on experiences or learning something, your happiness increases and that happiness sticks around.

If you’re like me and have a love of learning, reading books and taking courses will make you happy. If you’re the adventurous type, skydiving, skiing or mountain climbing might be your jam. Enjoy travel? Take a trip, a walking tour or explore a new area.

Whatever it is that you do to learn and grow, do more of it! Be mindful about it, savour the experience, focus on what you’re learning, reflect and enjoy the happiness.

2. Do things for others.

There’s plenty of research to show that helping others boosts our happiness. Volunteering, helping out, caring for a family member or participating in helpful community activities has be shown to:

•  Increase our life satisfaction
•  Contribute to our sense of meaning
•  Enhance our feelings of competence
•  Improve our mood
•  Reduce our stress; and
•  Distract us from our own challenges!

If you need a happiness boost right now, think about how you are helping others – at home, within your community or at work. Acknowledge the difference you make to others, even in small ways, and know that you are not only of service to others but you’re boosting your wellbeing at the same time.

If you need a happiness boost right now, think about how you are helping others

3. Connect with others.

The people in our lives can be a source of stress at times but our relationships are critical to our wellbeing and happiness. Other people matter!


Happy families: Family conversation dinners can help you connect


 

Close, supportive and secure relationships with partners, children, family and friends bring happiness and contribute to our overall health and longevity. Research shows that high levels of social and family support contributes to a reduction in heart disease, an increase in general immunity and benefits to our cognitive capabilities as we age.

Most of us have people in our lives who are important to us but we don’t always pay those relationships the attention we could.

Most of us have people in our lives who are important to us but we don’t always pay those relationships the attention we could. To boost your happiness, you can:

•  Do something fun with family or a friend and enjoy some shared positive emotion
•  Have an open, meaningful conversation with someone
•  Offer help to a friend in need or a shoulder to cry on; or
•  Just connect with someone today. You’ll both benefit.

4. Be part of something bigger.

Finding purpose in your life and being connected to something bigger than yourself contributes to your wellbeing. It could be a meaningful career, a cause, a community, a club or any activity that helps you to serve others and makes a difference to your life.

Think for a moment, where do you find meaning and what difference does it make to you? There’s an instant and accessible happiness boost right there!

What’s your best happiness hack for long-term happy?

Image by rawpixel 

Ellen Jackson

Potential Psychology

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about everyday people and why we do what we do. When she’s not tapping at the laptop she coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to solve their people problems. Ellen has been making online friends since before the internet had pictures. You can join her tribe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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