7 tips to boost happiness
Over the long term, healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating well and spending time with friends and family are important. But if you’re feeling flat and need a quick boost of happiness, consider the tips below.
In his book The Happiness Advantage, Psychologist and researcher Shawn Achor suggests that time outdoors can help improve happiness. According to his research, just 20 minutes outside in good weather can help create a positive mood as well as broaden thinking and improve working memory1. Consider taking a short walk around the block or just sit in the garden for a breath of fresh air.
Regular physical activity keeps oxygen and serotonin pumping around the body, which can help improve our mood, increase energy levels and help us to sleep better. If you’re in a mid-afternoon slump and need a quick fix, try a new minutes of star-jumps, jogging or running up and down the stairs.
One study found that regular sessions of mindfulness meditation resulted in changes to participant’s brains. After eight weeks, it appeared that parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, while parts associated with stress shrank. Take a few minutes to relax and meditate, focusing on non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.
The Journal of Happiness Studies published research that suggested writing letters of gratitude increased happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms. If you’re not a budding writer, you may like to make a list of things that you’re grateful for today, instead.
A study by Rutgers University in the US indicated that people became less depressed, agitated and anxious after receiving flowers and also had a higher sense of enjoyment and satisfaction in their lives. Why not head down to the local florist and treat yourself to some blooms, or give them to someone that might need their spirits lifted.
Tick off a task
If your to-do list is contributing to your bad mood, happiness expert Gretchen Rubin suggests ticking off some tasks that can be completed in a few minutes. Answer your emails, make a doctors appointment or tidy the room. It may give you a feeling of satisfaction and inspire you to tackle other tasks on the list.
Smile (but don’t fake it)
Thinking happy thoughts and smiling could increase happiness levels and also make you more productive, according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal. But you have to smile like you mean it; the study revealed that faking a smile while experiencing negative emotions could actually worsen your mood.
How do you lift your spirits when you’re feeling flat?
 Achor, S 2010, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Crown Publishing, USA.