When I used to be on the radio, this was one of my absolute favorite segments to share. I loved it so much, in fact, that I saved it in a drawer in my bedroom. Now, I’m excited to share it with you. It is packed with SO much practical wisdom!
Aristotle famously said that rituals define who we are. And scientific research backs that up! You can actually take charge of your own happiness and even boost it by doing certain things. Researchers at the University of California Riverside reviewed some 51 different studies that tested attempts to increase happiness through different types of positive thinking and they found that the following practices can SIGNIFICANTLY enhance your happiness:
1/BE GRATEFUL: Many in those studies were asked to write letters of gratitude to people who had helped them in some way. The study found that people reported a LASTING increase in happiness…over weeks and even months…after implementing the habit. And even more surprisingly, they didn’t even have to send the letter! Yes, even when people just wrote the letters but never sent them, they STILL reported feeling happier! One of my favorite quotes is: “It’s not the happy person who is grateful, it’s the grateful person who is happy!”
2/BE OPTIMISTIC: Another practice you should try is optimistic thinking. Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain. Study participants were asked to visualize an ideal future. For example, living with a loving and supportive partner, or finding a job that was fulfilling…and then they were told to describe that image in a journal entry. After doing this for a few weeks, these people also reported increased feelings of well-being.
3/COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: People who practice writing down three (just 3) good things that have happened to them each and every week showed a significant boost in happiness. See, focusing on the positive actually gives you reasons to be glad.
4/USE YOUR STRENGTHS: One particular study asked people to identify their greatest strengths, and then they were asked to try to USE those strengths in new ways. For example, someone who says they have a good sense of humor could try to tell jokes or funny stories to cheer up sad friends. Doing that helps YOU as much as the other person!
5/COMMIT ACTS OF KINDNESS: Yes, it IS more blessed to give than receive. Those behind this list have an iPhone app called “Live Happy Now” that you can download on iTunes to boost your well being. But if you don’t want to download the app, just pay for someone’s meal behind you the next time you hit a drive through.
Try implementing these, and you might just feel your heart swell… kinda like this: