26 Aug 11 simple science-backed ways to boost happiness
by Belle Beth Cooper from news.com.au
EVERYONE has different ideas about happiness, what it is and how to get it.
I'd love to be happier, as I'm sure most people would, so I've found 11 ways to achieve this that are actually backed by science.
1. EXERCISE FOR 7 MINUTES
You might have seen some talk recently about the scientific 7 minute workout mentioned in The New York Times . So if you thought exercise was something you didn't have time for, think again.
In a study cited in Shawn Achor's book The Happiness Advantage three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise or a combination of both.
While all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with, the results after six months were radically different.
38 per cent of those who had taken medication alone had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with 31 per cent relapsing. Only 9 per cent of the exercise group relapsed.
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercised felt better about their bodies, even when they saw no physical changes.
2. SLEEP MORE TO AVOID NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
We know that sleep helps our body recover and repair, helping us focus and be more productive. But it's also important for our happiness.
An article in NutureShock explains how sleep affects our positivity. Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories gets processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.
A study in The BPS Research Digest proves sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions.
3. MOVE CLOSE TO WORK – IT'S WORTH IT
Most of us commute to work five days a week so it's unsurprising that it would take a toll.
According to The Art of Manliness, a long commute affects us dramatically.
"People never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it's not."
Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert says "driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day".
We tend to try to compensate for this by having a bigger house or a better job, but two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not offset the misery created by a long commute.
4. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY – OR REGRET IT
Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying.
Social time is so valuable, even for introverts.
"We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends," says Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert.
George Vaillant, the director of a 72-year study of the lives of 268 men, says he's learnt that the "only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people".
He told The Atlantic the men's relationships, at age 47, predicted late-life adjustment better than any other variable, except defences.
Good sibling relationships seem especially powerful: 93 per cent of the men who were thriving at age 65 had been close to a brother or sister when younger.
A study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics found that our relationships are worth more than $100,000.
Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.
The Terman study, which is covered in The Longevity Project, found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives.
Those who helped their friends and neighbours, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE