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Happiness -It's a Science! 5 proven daily habits to spark joy

Many people are waiting for happiness and they believe that if they aren’t happy now, they will be happy when their career finally takes off, when they find Mr. Right, or when they strike it rich. Often, we think that happiness is something that we will find one day, yet research teaches us that a significant part of happiness is something we can create daily. A key element of being happy is understanding that happiness is a lot like exercise because it requires discipline, daily effort, and a commitment to a continual, ongoing practice.

Letting go of the idea that you will one day arrive at happiness, and instead practicing happiness habits is an effective way to increase your happiness. Many studies have found that it is small things done daily that add up to have the biggest impact on our happiness. Research shows that committing to one new happiness habit at a time and practicing it regularly can make a big difference towards living a happier life.

Although some people may have be born with bigger smiles than others, the truth is that with practice anyone can boost their happiness. As the world begins to open up again, try some of these proven habits, backed by science, that can boost your happiness this summer.

Shift your focus

One of the simplest ways to boost your happiness is to shift what you are focusing on because what you focus on is what you tend to notice in your life. If you’re always focused on the things that upset or frustrate you, then that is often what will influence your perception of reality. By noticing and focusing on things that make you feel happy, you train your brain to become more skilled at noticing and focusing on happy things.

Try making a habit of looking around and noticing the good, or the things that make you feel happy that are already around you. This practice is especially potent if you can focus on the “small” things such as the kind stranger who opened a door for you , the nice thing that someone said to you, or taking in a beautiful summer sunset.

Make progress towards a goal

It feels good when you reach a goal, especially when you’ve been working towards it for a long time. Research shows that when you feel like you are progressing towards your goal it has a positive impact on your happiness, even if you haven’t reached your goal yet. The journey, not just the destination has a significant impact on happiness (and the journey even more so because you spend much more time working towards goal then you do when you reach it).

Although there is still a lot to understand in the relationship between happiness, goal setting, and accomplishment, it is clear that goal progress, not goal achievement is most important.



Stopping to smell the roses (which in the scientific literature is called savoring) means recognizing the good things in your life (e.g. a beautiful flower, a delicious cup of coffee on a warm summer morning, or the sun shining on your face at the beach) and then basking in the positive feelings associated with them. Instead of letting a positive experience pass by with little attention or appreciation, savouring means taking time to acknowledge, appreciate, and fully enjoy it. Research shows that savoring can be a potent happiness booster, and it doesn’t really matter exactly what you choose to savour (as long as you enjoy it).

Try to slow down 2-3 times per day to notice what is good or makes you feel happy in that moment. Once you’ve found something to appreciate, take at least 30 seconds to really enjoy the feeling of that moment, and notice how that affects your mood.

Do something nice for someone

Happiness helps spur kindness and generosity. When you do something nice for someone it releases endorphins (feel good hormones) that activate the parts of your brain associated with happiness, pleasure, and social connection. When you are happy, it increases the likelihood that you will be altruistic; and when you are altruistic it makes you feel happier.

Doing something nice doesn’t need to mean a grand gesture. Small things (such as buying a stranger behind you in the coffee line a cup of coffee, putting a coin in an expired meter, or giving someone a genuine compliment) can make a big impact on someone’s day.

Practice self-forgiveness

Two of the most powerful words in our vocabulary for lasting and true transformation are “I forgive”, and with good reason. Forgiveness isn’t always an easy thing, but letting go of anger, resentment, and disappointment can be life-changing, especially when it comes to forgiving one person in particular: yourself. Many of us have been programmed from an early age to be self-critical, and we tend to be our own toughest critics. This can result in unnecessary self-guilt plaguing our minds or feelings that we are never good enough. Research suggests that excessively punishing ourselves for our mistakes or judging ourselves does more harm than good to our mental health and happiness.

Self-forgiveness involves gradually letting go of negative self-directed feelings and at the same time gradually restoring positive feelings like self-respect and self-compassion. Research suggests that self-forgiveness is associated with a number of psychological benefits, including lower anxiety and depression, increased self-esteem, greater feelings of hope, and better physical health.

Dr. Gillian Mandich has a PhD in Health Science from Western University. She a happiness researcher, the founder of The International Happiness Institute of Health Science Research; Research Associate at The World Database of Happiness (based out of Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands), co-lead investigator of The Canadian Happiness At Work Study; and is a part of the Meant2Prevent research team at SickKids. Dr. Mandich is a media personality, two-time TEDx speaker, and top-rated keynote speaker.



Social media handle: @gillianmandich


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