What’s the secret to happiness?
It’s not an easy question to answer.
So why is it that some people seem to be happy and fulfilled 24/7? Do they know some happiness secrets that you don’t?
Actually yes they do!
Recent research has found that happy people tend to have the same similar habits.
In fact, research has found 7 habits in particular that we would all do well to consider implementing into our daily life.
What are they? Read on to find out.
1) Be busy, but not rushed.
Despite what you might think, just lazing around doing nothing actually won’t make us happy.
We need be engaged in something that we’re passionate about. We need to have a purpose.
However, research has found that taking on too much work can make us feel stressed, and you guessed it, unhappy.
Live a productive life at a comfortable pace.
When you feel like you’re too busy, it’s likely because you’ve said “yes” to too many things.
Make sure to say “no” to things that you really don’t want to do.
We all have obligations, but we need to make sure we can engage in our work at a comfortable pace. You’ll do a better quality job, anyway!
2) Have 5 close relationships
Have you ever heard of the Harvard study that ran for 75 years to assess what makes us happy? It’s a revolutionary study in psychology.
It followed the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age.
So what did it find?
According to lead researcher and psychiatrist Robert Waldinger:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”
Relationships are important. But why five?
In a variety of different studies, five seems to be an acceptable average.
What’s important to remember is that it’s the quality of your relationships, not the number.
Research shows that checking in around every two weeks is the sweet spot for close friends.
3) Don’t tie your happiness to external events
We all want to have solid self-esteem.
However, research has found that self-esteem that is tied to external events can be quite fickle.
When you tie it to external events, like getting a good grade in school, you’ll receive a quick boost when you get a good result, but it will harshly drop when you get a bad grade.
Also, tying your happiness to external events can lead to avoidance behaviour, because you don’t want to fail as it will be too difficult to bear.
Tie your confidence to who you are as a human being. Know your worth and uniqueness.
No matter how much you want to avoid it, countless research studies have found that exercise is crucial to a happy life.
Why does exercise make us feel good?
I’m sure you’ve heard the line, “endorphins are released”. Here’s what it really means:
When you start exercising, your brain recognises this as a moment of stress. To protect yourself, your brain releases a protein called BDNF.
This is a protective and reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch.
That’s why we often feel at ease and things are clear after exercising.
At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, is released in the brain. This minmizes the discomfort of exercise and causes a feeling of euphoria.
5) Embrace discomfort
Happy people have been found to have something called a “signature strength”.
That means they’ve become highly proficient at one thing.
To become highly proficient at something, you need to embrace some level of discomfort. Research has suggested that mastering a skill can be quite stressful.
However, becoming great something can far outweigh the short-term discomfort that comes from learning it.
6) Spend money on experiences, not things
When money hits your wallet, do you find that you run straight to the shops to buy some cool stuff? After each purchase, you feel a little happier, but a few days later that feeling is gone without a trace. What’s happened?
Well, according to psychology, one of the main impediments to happiness is adaptation. As soon as something we’ve bought becomes ordinary, the level of life satisfaction we feel falls. We’re then forced to buy something else. The process keeps repeating itself over and over.
However, research at Cornell University has a found a way to break this cycle.
Professor Thomas Gilovich found that we experience the same amount of happiness when we buy something we want and when we go traveling. There’s an important difference though.
The amount of happiness we derive from our purchase falls over time, whereas the memories of traveling continue to supply us with happiness hormones for longer.
7) Embrace all emotions, even if they’re negative
Sadness, joy, anger, disappointment, excitement: these are all feelings we’ve experienced at one point or another and we all deal with them in very different ways. For some of us, overwhelming emotions can throw us off balance and send us on a roller coaster of other emotions.
This can be a huge cause of stress and anxiety in your life and for some, our instinct is to run away and hide from these feelings. In reality, this is the worst thing you could be doing for yourself. Running away from your feelings is never a good solution and most of the time it only leads to more problems down the road.
You’ve avoiding a very normal part of human nature that shouldn’t be avoided.
Don’t be afraid to let them all in with open arms, even the feelings that you’d rather not feel. Not all of them are going to be pleasant!
Some might hurt and some might put you down in the dumps, but remember that this is completely okay. By allowing yourself to feel these feelings full force, you’re gaining a better understanding of what you’re feeling and where those emotions are coming from.