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13 scientifically proven ways to be a happier person

From setting goals to simply exposing yourself to the colour blue, science says these things will improve your outlook on life.
Jul 6th 2013, 5:00 PM 39,820 38

IT HAS BEEN said before that we are all the creators of our own happiness. But that’s easier said than done sometimes.

Several scientific studies have pointed to small changes we can all make to improve our outlook on life.

From writing down the good parts of your say to simply smiling more, here are a few proactive steps you can take to becoming a happier you.

Spend money on other people

Spending money on other people instead of yourself makes you feel happier, a study published in “Psychological Bulletin” found.

The study concluded that “the happiest people were the biggest givers, no matter what they earned.” They always felt better donating to charities and giving to others than splurging on themselves.

Count your blesssings

Literally. University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman (as well as multiple other independent studies) proved that people who wrote down three good things that happened to them every night were significantly happier than the control group.

They don’t even have to be important: Your crush smiling at you or your spouse remembering to buy your favorite dessert count, too.

Try something new

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People who go on adventures, try new experiences, and switch up their routines are generally happier, research has shown. Trying new things also keeps motor function sharp and stimulates brain waves.

Delay gratification

Anticipating happiness actually makes you happy. Studies have shown that it’s human nature to forestall an enjoyable event. Looking forward to a nice dinner or eating all of your Halloween sweets is part of the fun.

Expose yourself to more blue

Researchers from the University of Sussex showed that exposing yourself to the color blue sent “self confidence soaring, cut stress, and boosts happiness.” The study found that when people saw blue, their brain waves showed increased happiness.

According to The Daily Mail, our love for blue comes from our ancestors “linking the color of the afternoon and evening sky to the feeling of a day well spent, and the prospect of a good night’s sleep.”

Set goals for yourself

The psychologist Jonathan Freedman claims that people who set objectives for themselves — whether it’s short-term or long-term — are happier than those who don’t.

And the University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson found that working towards a goal won’t just activate positive feelings, but also suppress negative emotions.

Stop defending your point of view

Dr Deepak Chopra, author of The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment, has said that maintaining neutrality is the best way to keep yourself happy.

“You can save 99 percent of your psychological energy — and feel happier — if you can stop defending your point of view,” says Chopra.

Go to church

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This is a controversial one… In a recent study, people who attended church regularly responded that they were happier and more satisfied with their lives than people who were not religious.

Bruce Headey, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, researched happiness among a group of people for 25 years, and found that people who went to church stayed thin, avoided worrying about their careers, and had emotionally stable partners.

Sleep at least six hours every night

Six hours and 15 minutes a night of un-interrupted sleep makes for the happiest people, a study commissioned by the British company Yeo Valley found.

The study asked adults ages 18 to 65 to rate their level of happiness on a scale of one to five. Those who slept around six hours and 15 minutes a night ranked the happiest.

Slash your commute to 20 minutes

From the same British study that found adults need to sleep at least six hours to be happy, the happiest respondents were also found to commute just 20 minutes to work.

The length of your commute even affects your health and fitness.

Make sure you have at least ten good friends

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Adults who said they had 10 good friends were happier than those who could count five or less close friends, research from Nottingham University found.

And it seemed the “more the merrier” really did apply. The more friends one had, the happier he or she seemed.

The study concluded that we should nourish our friendships to help enrich our own personal happiness.

Fake it ’til you make it

It may seem like a lot of work, but acting happy when you’re actually sad really can make you feel better.

Several studies have shown that just the act of smiling can cause people to experience happy feelings.

Find yourself a romantic relationship

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Our relationships with our significant others have a large effect on our happiness.

People in relationships were generally found to be happier than other people, and spouses have the highest sense of well-being whether they are happily married or not, according to a study from Cornell University. The stronger the commitment, the happier the people in the relationship were.

What makes you happy? Tell us in the comments below…

- Megan Willett and Meredith Galante.

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