“I just want to be happy.” I’ve said it many times. How about you? What really makes happy people happy?
You might be glad to know that we are not supposed to be happy all of the time. For this very reason, we have emotions, and they are meant to fluctuate. From fear to joy and everything in between, they help us to know ourselves and our experiences.
We don’t want our emotions stuck in despair, however, nor do we want to be happy all the time either – there’d be no comparison. The key to feeling a sense of well-being is to maintain balanced emotions. But, how do we do that?
Below are eleven ways science has identified as important to human happiness–11 ways science says we can be happy. By making small changes to each of these areas, we can be happy.
What Really Makes Happy People Happy?
It is important to have positive, social relationships that provide us with a support network. When experiencing hardships, helpful friends will love, encourage, and support us, which help us to maintain a positive attitude.
Having the love and acceptance of others is important to our emotional and mental well-being. Likewise, participating in social events with friends, having fun, and feeling excited all serve to build that feeling of connectedness with others that contribute to a feeling of happiness.
2. Practicing Being Grateful
When we are thankful for what we have and focus upon that, then we feel a greater sense of satisfaction with our lives. In addition, recognizing and thanking people in our lives for the things they have done for us also increases our happiness. When we spend time each day appreciating the people in our lives and the belongings we possess, we will feel happier.
Scientific studies show that when we think about people we love, our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin contributes to a more relaxed state of mind, and it also reduces anxiety and stress. Loving others and feeling a deep connection to them is an essential component to human happiness.
Note: Hugging someone provides an immediate release of oxytocin.
4. Giving and Serving
Scientists have discovered through MRI technology that the pleasure part of our brain is stimulated when we give to others. Giving and serving other people help us to feel a sense of purpose in our lives.
We don’t have to give a lot. But, when we give from our hearts to a cause we feel passionate about, then we feel better about ourselves and our contribution to humanity. This, in turn, increases our happiness.
5. Living with Purpose
Having a purpose in life and achieving our goals are essential to a healthy state of mind. Any goals we choose should be challenging, but not unreachable. If goals are too easy, then we may not feel a sense of accomplishment when they are reached. Attaining challenging goals contributes to a sense of confidence within us, thereby increasing our life satisfaction.
6. Simplifying Your life
A new phenomenon is emerging where people are cutting back on their physical possessions and obligations. Minimalism is taking hold and many are finding greater happiness because of it. In her book, Tammy Strobel says You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap).
7. Being Mindful
Keeping our attention and focus on the moment will help us to cultivate a greater sense of happiness. We need to notice the little things, think less about the past, and worry less about an unlikely future event. We need to live in the present moment.
We must use the present moment to take the necessary steps for planning and accomplishing our goals. When we keep our focus on the present moment, we will begin to notice that many positive things happen all day long. When we can recognize that, we will feel more cheerful.
8. Being Positive
It may sound cliché, but being positive is a surefire way to find greater happiness. Our brains can fall into the habit of noticing negative events and personal failures. By making the conscious effort to see more positive events and noticing our successes, we can retrain our brain to naturally think more positive.
Simple activities like journaling or writing down benevolent and serendipitous happenings as they occur in our daily planner are easy ways to make that change. The important thing to remember is to maintain focus on the positive experiences that happen throughout the day.
9. Moving Your Body
It’s no surprise that being physically active will help to brighten a dull mood. Endorphins are released during physical activity, which sends a signal to our brain to be happy. Likewise, healthy bodies are happier bodies. We don’t have to run a marathon or go to the gym (but by all means, these are great things to do). Light walking around the neighborhood is all that is necessary to release those feel-good endorphins.
Getting more sleep will boost memory and concentration along with strengthening the immune system. In fact, studies show that just one hour of extra sleep per night helps increase happiness by more than a $60,000 raise in pay!
11. Being Intimate
Scientific studies show that people who have frequent intimacy with the one they love are less likely to feel depressed. Feeling loved in a meaningful relationship increases happiness and life satisfaction.
Experiencing the range of emotions unique to the human experience is often necessary to understand how to maintain a positive mental state. Sometimes we do have to drown in our own misery, sink into the depths of despair, or wallow in self-pity before we understand the mental state necessary to maintain positive emotions.
Being happy is a choice we make in each moment of the day because happiness is not an emotion; happiness is a state-of-mind determined by how we act and how we think in any given day. By simply changing our outlook, we can learn to be happy.
Understand, though, that our state of mind can be influenced by our environment.