While having the best of everything is great, it is not necessarily a requirement for a happy life. The secret for a successful and happy life resides in making the best out of everything-in finding the right balance between the little and the big things-and in knowing how to wisely respond to the good and the bad times.
Making the best out of everything in life requires constancy, commitment, and change. Learn how the happiest people on earth achieve this in their lives by starting to practice what they do as following:. The happiest people on earth look forward, not backward.
They take action to create solutions to face and deal with whatever it is that they are going through. They understand that focusing on the problem absorbs their energy and puts them in a stress mode. The happiest people on earth visualize positive outcomes. They are patient and know that things will work out in one way or another as nothing in life permanent.
They are constantly engaged in creating a healthy environment in their lives no matter what. The happiest people on earth are grateful for what they have. So spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves. But what about spending our time on other people?
A study of volunteering in Germany explored how volunteers were affected when their opportunities to help others were taken away:. Volunteering was still widespread. Due to the shock of the reunion, a large portion of the infrastructure of volunteering e. Based on a comparison of the change in subjective well-being of these people and of people from the control group who had no change in their volunteer status, the hypothesis is supported that volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction.
In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being , University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:. Smiling can make us feel better, but it's more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:. A new study led by a Michigan State University business scholar suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity.
But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts--such as a tropical vacation or a child's recital--improve their mood and withdraw less. Of course it's important to practice "real smiles" where you use your eye sockets. You've seen fake smiles that don't reach the person's eyes.
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Smile with just your mouth. Then smile naturally; your eyes narrow. There's a huge difference in a fake smile and a genuine smile. According to PsyBlog , smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks:. Smiling makes us feel good which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think holistically.
When this idea was tested by Johnson et al.
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Smiling is one way to reduce the distress caused by an upsetting situation. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis. Even forcing a smile when we don't feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly this is one example of embodied cognition. As opposed to actually taking a holiday, simply planning a vacation or break from work can improve our happiness.
A study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as people enjoy the sense of anticipation:.
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In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks. After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people. One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent.
If you can't take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar--even if it's a month or a year down the road. Then, whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it. Meditation is often touted as an important habit for improving focus, clarity, and attention span, as well as helping to keep you calm.
It turns out it's also useful for improving your happiness:. In one study, a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the brain scans of 16 people before and after they participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. The study, published in the January issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, concluded that after completing the course, parts of the participants' brains associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress shrank.
Meditation literally clears your mind and calms you down, it's been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life. According to Achor, meditation can actually make you happier long-term:. Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness.
Go and Get It! Making Happiness Permanent in Your Life
The fact that we can actually alter our brain structure through mediation is most surprising to me and somewhat reassuring that however we feel and think today isn't permanent. Our commute to work can have a surprisingly powerful impact on our happiness. The fact that we tend to commute twice a day at least five days a week makes it unsurprising that the effect would build up over time and make us less and less happy.
According to The Art of Manliness , having a long commute is something we often fail to realize will affect us so dramatically:. Or as Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it, "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 these compensations just don't work:. Two Swiss economists who studied the effect of commuting on happiness found that such factors could not make up for the misery created by a long commute.
This is a seemingly simple strategy but I've personally found it to make a huge difference to my outlook.
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you're grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or your partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you. In an experiment where participants took note of things they were grateful for each day, their moods were improved just from this simple practice:. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the three studies, relative to the comparison groups.
The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits. The Journal of Happiness studies published a study that used letters of gratitude to test how being grateful can affect our levels of happiness:. Participants included men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period. Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants' happiness and life satisfaction while decreasing depressive symptoms.
As we get older, particularly past middle age, we tend to naturally grow happier. There's still some debate over why this happens, but scientists have a few ideas:. Researchers, including the authors, have found that older people shown pictures of faces or situations tend to focus on and remember the happier ones more and the negative ones less.
Other studies have discovered that as people age, they seek out situations that will lift their moods--for instance, pruning social circles of friends or acquaintances who might bring them down. Still other work finds that older adults learn to let go of loss and disappointment over unachieved goals, and focus their goals on greater well being.
30 Things You Need To Let Go To Find Happiness
So if you thought getting old will make you miserable, it's likely you'll develop a more positive outlook than you probably have now. It's easy to think of happiness as a result , but happiness is also a driver. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels early on, the follow-up assessments proved to be radically different: 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: Money Can't Buy You Happiness. I love the way Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert explains it: He shared insights of the study with Joshua Wolf Shenk at The Atlantic on how men's social connections made a difference to their overall happiness: The Terman study, covered in The Longevity Project , found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives: In The Happiness Advantage , Shawn Achor recommends spending time in the fresh air to improve your happiness: A UK study from the University of Sussex also found that being outdoors made people happier: The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study that explored this very topic: A study of volunteering in Germany explored how volunteers were affected when their opportunities to help others were taken away: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being , University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives: Smiling can make us feel better, but it's more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study: According to PsyBlog , smiling can improve our attention and help us perform better on cognitive tasks: A smile is also a good way to reduce some of the pain we feel in troubling circumstances: A study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as people enjoy the sense of anticipation: It turns out it's also useful for improving your happiness: According to Achor, meditation can actually make you happier long-term: According to The Art of Manliness , having a long commute is something we often fail to realize will affect us so dramatically: