When asked what makes people happy, the typical answers are family, friends and money. But here are ten other things that may surprise you that can increase your happiness:
- Play with puppies. There are many studies that use readings of brainwaves from mobile headsets worn by volunteers to see which activities generated the highest level of happiness. Research shows that puppies, along with eating chocolate and looking at pictures of babies, picks up our mood.
- Smile more. Just the act of smiling can make you happier – even if you are faking it. Research revealed that all smiling participants, regardless of whether they had to force it, had lower heart rates during stress recovery than other groups.
- Smell fresh baked bread. This aroma can make us happier and kinder to strangers. Research showed that shoppers were more likely to alert a person passing by that they had dropped something when they were near a bakery that was giving off this smell. Their findings suggest that this particular aroma triggers a positive mood that leads to a greater degree of altruism and concern for others. Who knew? Some simple carbs are good for you.
- Be married. A study in the Journal of Research in Personality finds that although getting married does not make people happier than when they were single, it does protect against normal declines in happiness as they age.
- Share “nice” gossip. Research shows that sharing gossip can make you feel happy as long as you are relaying good news. According to the study, “after speaking kindly of others, positive emotions were raised 3 percent, negative emotions were reduced 6 percent, and self-esteem rose 5 percent.”
- Focus on what you are doing right now. Most of us are frustrated by having to multitask and deal with constant interruptions. By focusing on one thing at a time, we not only complete the task faster, but more satisfactorily.
- Learn something new. Trying out something new, like playing a new musical instrument, learning a new dance or a new language, can have a very positive effect on your happiness. This is because every achievement we have, no matter how small it is, gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- Put your money toward small pleasures. Research has proven that the relationship between money and happiness is weak because of how people spend it. It shows that consumers should buy more experiences and purchase many small pleasures rather than fewer big ones. This includes a regular massage which can help skin rejuvenation and boost energy in your body.
- Take more photographs. According to happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin, photos remind us and help curate the things we love like people, places, and activities. We can become happier as we remember those great memories.
- Write worries down. Then, seal them in an envelope. This works because the physical act of enclosing a feeling can actually help alleviate the associated negative emotions. Experiments show unhappiness was reduced for participants who placed a written memory of a regretted past decision or unsatisfied strong desire inside an envelope. It didn’t say what to do next with the envelope but we suggest you hide it in your secret place.
What surprising things make you happy?