A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy


We think we want to be happy. Yet many of us are actually working toward some other end, according to cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics.

Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire. On the Dec. 19 podcast “Conversations with Tyler,” hosted by economist Tyler Cowen, Kahneman explains that working toward one goal may undermine our ability to experience the other.

For example, in Kahneman’s research measuring everyday happiness—the experiences that leave people feeling good—he found that spending time with friends was highly effective. Yet those focused on long-term goals that yield satisfaction don’t necessarily prioritize socializing, as they’re busy with the bigger picture.

Such choices led Kahneman to conclude that we’re not as interested in happiness as we may claim. “Altogether, I don’t think that people maximize happiness in that sense…this doesn’t seem to be what people want to do. They actually want to maximize their satisfaction with themselves and with their lives. And that leads in completely different directions than the maximization of happiness,” he says.

In an October interview with Ha’aretz (paywall), Kahneman argues that satisfaction is based mostly on comparisons. “Life satisfaction is connected to a large degree to social yardsticks–achieving goals, meeting expectations.” He notes that money has a significant influence on life satisfaction, whereas happiness is affected by money only when funds are lacking. Poverty creates suffering, but above a certain level of income that satisfies our basic needs, wealth doesn’t increase happiness. “The graph is surprisingly flat,” the psychologist says.

In other words, if you aren’t hungry, and if clothing, shelter, and your other basics are covered, you’re capable of being at least as happy as the world’s wealthiest people. The fleeting feelings of happiness, though, don’t add up to life satisfaction. Looking back, a person who has had many happy moments may not feel pleased on the whole.

The key here is memory. Satisfaction is retrospective. Happiness occurs in real time. In Kahneman’s work, he found that people tell themselves a story about their lives, which may or may not add up to a pleasing tale. Yet, our day-to-day experiences yield positive feelings that may not advance that longer story, necessarily. Memory is enduring. Feelings pass. Many of our happiest moments aren’t preserved—they’re not all caught on camera but just happen. And then they’re gone.

Take going on vacation, for example. According to the psychologist, a person who knows they can go on a trip and have a good time but that their memories will be erased, and that they can’t take any photos, might choose not to go after all. The reason for this is that we do things in anticipation of creating satisfying memories to reflect on later. We’re somewhat less interested in actually having a good time.

This theory helps to explain our current social media-driven culture. To some extent, we care less about enjoying ourselves than presenting the appearance of an enviable existence. We’re preoccupied with quantifying friends and followers rather than spending time with people we like. And ultimately, this makes us miserable.

We feel happiness primarily in the company of others, Kahneman argues. However, the positive psychology movement that has arisen in part as a result of his work doesn’t emphasize spontaneity and relationships. Instead, it takes a longer view, considering what makes life meaningful, which is a concept that Kahneman claims eludes him.

Kahneman counts himself lucky and “fairly happy.” He says he’s led “an interesting life” because he’s spent much of his time working with people whose company he enjoyed. But he notes that there have been periods when he worked alone on writing that were “terrible,” when he felt “miserable.” He also says he doesn’t consider his existence meaningful, despite his notable academic accomplishments.

Indeed, although his contributions legitimized the emotion as an economic and social force and led to the creation of happiness indices worldwide, the psychologist abandoned the field of happiness research about five years ago. He’s now researching and writing about the concept of “noise,” or random data that interferes with wise decision-making.

Still, it’s worth asking if we want to be happy, to experience positive feelings, or simply wish to construct narratives that seems worth telling ourselves and others, but doesn’t necessarily yield pleasure. Meet a friend and talk it over with them—you might have a good time. 

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This Is How Much Money You Need to Be Happy, According to Science


But not too much!

They say money can’t buy happiness, but let’s be honest, they say a lot of things – and they’re not always right.

When it comes to income, scientists say there actually is an ideal yearly amount we can earn to feel emotionally content and satisfied – and believe it or not, if you have too much money, you may actually start creeping back into unhappy territory.

“That might be surprising as what we see on TV and what advertisers tell us we need would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds,” explains psychologist Andrew T. Jebb from Purdue University.

Jebb and his team analysed data from the Gallup World Poll, an international survey of more than 1.7 million individuals from 164 countries.

When they examined participants’ responses on questions relating to life satisfaction and well-being – measures of what’s called subjective well-being (SWB) – they discovered the magic number for ‘income satiation’ is a global phenomenon, but one that varies considerably around the world.

Nonetheless, when you average the results out, we now have a rough idea of just how much $ = 🙂 in US dollars.

“We found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation [overall life satisfaction] and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being [day-to-day happiness],” Jebb says.

“Again, this amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families.”

Of course, the global average masks how satiation points are significantly higher in some countries than in others, broadly associated with how wealthy each nation is comparatively.

Life satisfaction costs $125,000 in Australia, $105,000 in North America, and $100,000 in Western Europe – but only $70,000 in Southeast Asia, $45,000 in Eastern Europe, and $35,000 in Latin America.

Globally, it’s cheaper for men to be satisfied with their lives ($90,000) than women ($100,000), and for people of low ($70,000) or moderate education ($85,000) than people with higher education ($115,000).

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the study is how it highlights that once you’ve hit income satiation, you may want to freeze your earning capacity right there.

“Another important phenomenon within our data was the presence of turning points at which income levels after satiation saw consistent decrements in happiness,” the authors explain.

“It has been speculated for some time that very high incomes may lead to reductions in SWB.”

The authors detected this phenomenon in their own results, but noted it was only evident in terms of life evaluation (not emotional well-being), and limited to just five of the nine regions considered in the study: Western Europe/Scandinavia, Eastern Europe/the Balkans, East Asia, Latin America/the Caribbean, and Northern America.

As for why the pattern isn’t found elsewhere, we don’t know for sure, but the researchers speculate it’s associated with the demands that come with higher wages.

“Theoretically, it is presumably not the higher incomes themselves that drive reductions in SWB, but the costs associated with them,” the researchers write.

“High incomes are usually accompanied by high demands (time, workload, responsibility, and so on) that might also limit opportunities for positive experiences (for example, leisure activities).”

If that’s the case, it gels with a lot of other research that’s shown money buys happiness but only if you have free time to enjoy it, by spending it on the right things, and not prioritising money over time.

There’s lots of ways to encourage feelings of happiness in your daily existence, but make sure you don’t buy into the most common misconceptions about where smiles come from.

There’s no enjoyable shortcuts here folks, but the good news is we’re all getting more happy all the time – in a manner of speaking, anyway – because old folks are some of the happiest folks around.

Source:  Nature Human Behaviour.

111 Ways to Be Happy


“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

Since happiness is what we all seek, what we all need, and what we all desire. I decided to share with you this awesome list of 111 ways to be happy. Hope you enjoy 🙂

PURPOSEFAIRY’S 111 WAYS TO BE HAPPY

  1. Smile at yourself whenever you see your face in the mirror
  2. Find something to be thankful for
  3. Call an old friend
  4. Write letters to your Future Self
  5. Hug yourself
  6. Send postcards to your loved ones
  7. Travel to unfamiliar places
  8. Get a pet
  9. Be playful. Be childlike
  10. Let yourself be Free
  11. Surround yourself with hilarious people
  12. Watch funny movies
  13. Read fairytales
  14. Laugh out loud
  15. Talk to strangers
  16. Hug your loved ones daily
  17. Spend time in nature
  18. Look people in the eyes
  19. Eat cleaner foods
  20. Hydrate
  21. Move your body
  22. Hug a tree
  23. Look at the stars
  24. Go to the zoo
  25. Get a plant
  26. Keep a journal
  27. Give away the things you no longer need
  28. Call your mom and tell her, ‘I love you’
  29. Call your dad and tell him, ‘I’m sorry’
  30. Spend one full day in total silence
  31. Write ‘I Love You’ on the bathroom mirror
  32. Read sufi poetry
  33. Show your friends how much you love them
  34. Forgive yourself for past mistakes
  35. Disconnect
  36. Take a hot bath
  37. Buy those nice bed sheets
  38. Get interested in others
  39. Pray for those who wish you harm
  40. Daydream
  41. Have a piece of cake
  42. Write yourself a ‘Thank You’ letter
  43. Get a haircut
  44. Buy yourself something nice
  45. Spend time with your family
  46. Go on a road trip
  47. Learn to Say ‘No!’
  48. Apologize
  49. Put your phone aside and pay full attention to the person in front of you
  50. Learn something new
  51. Take a different route to work
  52. Give flowers to the living
  53. Go for a nice jog
  54. Wake up earlier
  55. Watch the sunset
  56. Lay down on the grass
  57. Smell the flowers
  58. Go to bed earlier
  59. Throw a surprise party for someone you love
  60. Teach a child about the beauty of giving
  61. Do something nice for somebody who can not pay you back
  62. Stay away from gossip
  63. Say ‘yes’ to life
  64. Be mindful who you let near you
  65. Breathe Deeply
  66. Finish each day and be done with it
  67. Start fresh each morning
  68. Get rid of the clutter in your life – mental. emotional, and physical
  69. Watch less television
  70. Read more books
  71. Practice compassion – toward yourself and others
  72. Treat each moment as if it were sacred. Because it is.
  73. Treat each being as if they were sacred. Because they are.
  74. Be fully present in your body
  75. Honor your words with actions
  76. Keep the promises you make to yourself
  77. Learn to love yourself
  78. Practice humility
  79. Condemn none. Forgive all
  80. Appreciate yourself
  81. Appreciate others
  82. Commit to your dreams
  83. Look for the good in people
  84. Be patient
  85. Don’t be so hard on yourself
  86. Forget about what others think
  87. Meditate
  88. Make peace with your imperfections
  89. Live each day as if it were your last
  90. Learn from everything that happens to you
  91. Surrender
  92. Let go
  93. Give yourself permission to get lost
  94. Move beyond your fears
  95. Face your inner demons
  96. Dance in the rain
  97. Be bold. Be brave. Be confident
  98. Tell yourself each morning: ‘I Am Enough’
  99. Stand up for something
  100. Write down your core values
  101. Go for a massage
  102. Host a movie night
  103. Go out and meet new people
  104. Keep your two feet on the ground and your heart in the Heavens
  105. Make time for others
  106. Ask questions
  107. Stay curious
  108. Judge not
  109. Nourish your connection with Source
  110. Put love into everything you do
  111. Don’t run from who you truly are

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy


15-Things-You-Should-Give-Up-To-Be-Happy

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress, and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress-free and happy – we cling on to them.

Not anymore.

Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right

 There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame

 Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

 Oh, my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining

 Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, many things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change

Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.


“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” 
Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels

 Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present.

Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all, life is a journey, not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment

This is a concept that for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice.

The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think are best for them.

They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually, they forget about themselves.

You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Source:purposefairy.com

The Secret of How to Be Happy


Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says that you “synthesize” your happiness. That you have a “psychological immune system” that helps you change your views about your world, in order to feel better about the world in which you find yourself.

Story at-a-glance

  • Happiness can more accurately be identified by your brain as “whatever gets you excited.” Once you identify that activity, you can start focusing your mind around that so you can structure your life to do more of it
  • Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says that you “synthesize” your happiness; that you have a “psychological immune system” that helps you change your views about your world, in order to feel better about the world in which you find yourself
  • We tend to think that getting things is what will make us happy. However, studies have shown that we make ourselves happy by simply imagining that we are happy
  • Happiness also has an effect on your physical health. It will not only protect your body from stressors but it can also boost your immune system‘s ability to fight off the common cold

Not only that, he also maintains that when we imagine what could make us happy, such as new clothes or winning the lottery, our brains are invariably wrong in advising us that those things will make us happy. In fact, statistics show that paraplegics are just as happy as lottery winners one year after the event of either becoming injured, or winning the lottery!

We tend to think that getting things such as a job, a new car, or a trip around the world is what will make us happy. However, studies have shown that we make ourselves happy by simply imagining that we are happy. So getting what we want doesn’t actually have anything to do with being happy.

Why is this?

Your prefrontal cortex works as an experience simulator, which means you can imagine an experience in your head before you try it out in real life. This ability is essentially what brought humankind out of the trees and into shopping malls – it allows you to desire things and events, imagining they will make you feel a certain way. The problem is that your simulator works rather poorly. In reality, gaining or losing something turns out to have far less impact and duration than you expect them to have. After about three months, the event (or item) has virtually no impact on your happiness…

So, your ability to create “synthetic” happiness is in fact your key to sustained happiness. Which, by the way, is very real, even though it is not “natural.” Synthetic happiness is a choice you make when you don’t get what you want, whereas natural happiness is what you feel when you do get what you want. However, you often don’t get exactly what you want.

Additionally, your belief that being able to change your mind will increase your happiness turns out to be completely false. Your “psychological immune system” actually works best when you’re totally stuck, when there’s no turning back and making other choices, because that is when your mind can find a way to be happy with your reality.

This is vitally important, beyond the obvious fact that being happy feels better than being unhappy. In fact, there is little doubt about the powerful effects positive emotions can have on your physical health and well-being. At the same time, there is equally little doubt about the effects that negative emotions can have on you.

Happiness will not only protect your body from stressors that can lead to coronary heart disease, but it can even boost your immune system‘s ability to fight off the common cold.

Unfortunately, “happiness” can be a rather nebulous term. For most people, it is virtually impossible to define what truly makes you happy. So I want to reiterate a definition that nearly everyone can grasp and apply with greater ease.

Happiness can more accurately be identified by your brain as “whatever gets you excited.” Happiness is that which makes you jump out of bed in the morning with eager anticipation to start your day. Once you identify that activity, whatever it is, you can start focusing your mind around that so you can structure your life to do more of it.

Personally, my happiness is tied to my mission to catalyze the change of the entire fatally flawed health paradigm. This is what makes me somersault out of bed each morning, and it is the driving force that allows me to truly enjoy the many, many hours of my “work” weeks.

Being able to manifest positive emotions and happiness is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you have been given as a human being. And, interestingly enough, Gilbert’s talk resonates along the same lines as a previous article I wrote about how limiting choices can increase your happiness, which is quite fascinating, because most of us live with the false belief that more choices mean greater chances of finding contentment and happiness.

It also resonates with the fundamental rules of optimal health… You don’t need ten pills a day to get healthy. It’s a false belief, manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry through the mass media. In reality, you only need to focus on a few very basic things to optimize your health:

  1. Address emotional traumas
  2. Get optimal sun exposure
  3. Drink pure water
  4. Avoid toxins
  5. Eat the right fats
  6. Eat right for your Nutritional Type
  7. Eat raw foods
  8. Control your insulin and leptin
  9. Exercise
  10. Sleep properly

Health, like happiness, can be optimized by limiting your options to that which is natural, and realizing there’s no “magic pill.”

4 Ways to Be Happy All the Time


ou only have one life and it is important that you make the most out of the time you have. This is done by making your happiness a priority. There are many things in life that can cause you to be stressed out and overwhelmed, but there are easy ways to bring back your happiness overnight. Here are the key takeaways from this infographic to make sure you stay happy and healthy.

1) Be Social

One of the biggest ways to make sure that you are happy is making an effort to be social. Staying in contact with friends can be a great way to make sure that you are fulfilled and feel like yourself. When you do not have time to stay connected to the people that matter most to you, this is when unhappiness can be the strongest. This means that if you make an effort to stay social, you should be able to keep your smile each day.

2) Be Adventurous

If you are looking to add something new to your life, you need to be willing to try something different. Happiness is often tied to be open to new experiences. This means that you need to be willing to get away from you normal routine and switch things up from time to time. It is the mundane tasks in life that can get you down in the dumps.

This means that you need to try new things and add a little adventure into your day in fun ways.

3) Positivity

Having a positive outlook on life and surrounding yourself with only positive people is one of the best ways to make sure that you are happy and fulfilled. Negativity is something that can seep into every part of your life and really weigh you down over time. This means that you need to stay away from negative people whenever possible. You need to be willing to always look for the bright side of a situation and stay away from those people that always see the glass as half empty. As long as you are healthy, you have no reason not to be happy.

4) Fun

You also need to add a little fun to your life if you want to be happy. All work and no play is no way to live. You need to have things in your day that you enjoy to keep you motivated and looking forward. Making time for a little fun is a great way to increase your happiness.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/5JhRK9zs8Es

9 Quick Tips You Can Do to Get Happy in the Next 30 Minutes


How to Boost Your Mood

Story at-a-glance

  • Being physically active is one of the best ways to boost your mood; try a quick walk around the block
  • Getting outdoors is another natural mood booster; exposure to bright outdoor light may trigger your body to release endorphins
  • Other simple mood-boosting tips include de-cluttering your home or workspace and completing a task you’ve been avoiding

When you’re in the midst of your daily grind — to-do lists, work deadlines, cooking, cleaning, children’s activities and the like — you’re probably not thinking about what you could do to feel happier.

There’s no time for that, and your mind is probably occupied with more important, or at least more pressing, matters.

But if you do stop to think about it, few things are more important than happiness. If you’re living day to day simply by going through the motions, you’re missing out on living — you’re missing out on life. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to feel happier.

It’s a choice virtually everyone can make, and you can work toward it just like you would any other goal. The first step is making this choice — go ahead, do it now. Next, try some of the simple happiness-boosting tips that follow.1

9 Tips to Get a Quick Mood Boost

1. Get Up and Get Moving

Excessive sitting and lack of exercise increase depression symptoms while increased physical activity may alleviate such symptoms and possibly even prevent future symptoms.2

On the other hand, anandamide (AEA), a neurotransmitter known as the “bliss compound,” increases during and following exercise and may be partly responsible for why exercise makes you happy.3

2. Get Outdoors

Exposure to bright outdoor light is crucial for a positive mood, in part because regular exposure to sunlight helps to enhance your mood and energy through the release of endorphins.4

Getting sun exposure outdoors will also help you optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as chronic depression.5,6

One study found that it takes just 20 minutes outdoors to make most people happier, while other research showed that happiness is maximized when it’s 57 degrees F outside — so keep an eye on the thermometer!7

If you can’t get outdoors, at least open your shades and let the sunshine in. A brighter living or work area will help to boost your mood.

3. Reach Out to Others

Call a friend or even send a friendly email. This will help you build a closer bond with others in the long run, and strong social ties are key for well being.

One study even found that relationships are worth more than $100,000 in terms of life satisfaction, while actual changes in income buy very little happiness.8 Even better, give or get a hug.

Hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hugging also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.9

4. Complete a Task You’ve Been Avoiding

Often, the build-up to doing the aversive task is worse than actually doing it. And once you’ve crossed it off your to-do list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief.

5. Organize and De-clutter

A cluttered, disorganized environment can lead to inner discord. Set your timer for 10 minutes and tackle one spot that you wish was clear of clutter (like your kitchen counter or desk).

6. Do a Good Deed

Helping others and doing good deeds provide a natural mood boost. Even a quick good deed, like letting someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store, is beneficial, but if you have more time volunteering is also great for your mood.

Volunteering can lower your risk of depression and anxiety,10 and even boost your psychological well-being.11 Not only does it keep you active and on your feet, but there’s a definite social aspect as well, both of which contribute to happiness.

Volunteering to help others also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

7. Donate Something

Along the lines of doing a good deed, sign up to be an organ donor, donate blood or, alternatively, donate your time or skills where they’re needed most.

8. Smile

Putting on a fake smile can worsen your mood, but thinking positive thoughts and then smiling as a result can make you happier.12 A genuine smile includes the facial muscles around your eyes, and can actually prompt brain changes linked to increased mood.

When you smile at others, they’re also more likely to smile back in return, creating an ongoing feedback loop that may lead to more positivity in your life.

9. Learn Something New

Is there a topic you wish you knew more about? Pick something that intrigues you or something you’re passionate about — not something you have to learn. Spend 15 minutes reading up on your newfound passion.

Did You Know You Can Boost Your Mood Via Your Diet?

What you eat or don’t eat can have a significant impact on your mood. While excess sugar has been linked to depression, certain foods are linked to positive emotions. Namely:

Vegetables, Especially Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens like spinach are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. One 2012 study found people who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression than those who ate the least.13

Not to mention, research from the University of Otago found eating fruits and vegetables of any sort (except fruit juice and dried fruit) helped young adults calm their nerves.14 Department of Psychology researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner said:15

“On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier, and more energetic than they normally did.”

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant selenium, low levels of which have been linked to anxiety.

Mushrooms are also one of the better food sources of vitamin D, which supports healthy mood (however, your best option to optimize your vitamin D levels is regular sun exposure; if that’s not possible, a vitamin D3 supplement may be necessary).

Turmeric

Curcumin, the pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow-orange color, is thought to be the primary component responsible for many of its medicinal effects. Among them, curcumin has neuroprotective properties and may enhance mood and possibly help with depression.

Dark Chocolate

Like exercise, chocolate may trigger your brain to produce the “bliss compound” anandamide. It also contains other chemicals that prolong the “feel-good” aspects of anandamide.

Chocolate has even been referred to as “the new anti-anxiety drug.” One study in the Journal of Psychopharmacologyalso revealed that drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.16

Organic Black Coffee

Research has shown that coffee triggers a mechanism in your brain that releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates your brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.

Interestingly enough, research also suggests that low BDNF levels may play a significant role in depression and that increasing neurogenesis has an antidepressant effect. One Harvard study even found women who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than those who drank little or none.17

Green Tea

Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and has psychoactive properties. Theanine increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine, and alpha wave activity, and may reduce mental and physical stress and produce feelings of relaxation.18

Positive Thoughts Reduce Stress and Influence Your Immune System

Feeling happy isn’t only a matter of emotional health. Positive thoughts and attitudes are able to prompt changes in your body that strengthen your immune system, decrease pain and chronic disease, and provide stress relief. One study found, for instance, that happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, and other positive psychological attributes are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.19

It’s even been scientifically shown that happiness can alter your genes! A team of researchers at UCLA showed that people with a deep sense of happiness and well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses.20

Interestingly, if you’re wondering how to maintain a state of happiness in the long run, self-acceptance appears to be one of the most important factors that can produce a more consistent sense of happiness.

In a survey of 5,000 people by the charity Action for Happiness, people were asked to rate themselves between 1 and 10 on 10 habits that are scientifically linked to happiness.21 While all 10 habits were strongly linked to overall life satisfaction,acceptance was the strongest predictor. In all, the survey resulted in the following “10 Keys to Happier Living,” which together spell out the acronym GREAT DREAM:

  • Giving: do things for others
  • Relating: connect with people
  • Exercising: take care of your body
  • Appreciating: notice the world around you
  • Trying out: keep learning new things
  • Direction: have goals to look forward to
  • Resilience: find ways to bounce back
  • Emotion: take a positive approach
  • Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
  • Meaning: be part of something bigger