Happiness is what we’re all after, right? Not fleeting feelings of happiness (though those are nice, too), but that long-term state where you’re getting plenty of joy and pleasure out of life, and feeling overall satisfied with the way things are. That’s the real goal. But how much power do we have to achieve it?
The happy-making news is, we can absolutely increase our happiness. Research shows that about 40% of our happiness is determined by what we do, as opposed to our circumstances or our personality type. And major life change isn’t required. We can get a happiness boost just by doing small things, research tells us.
The first thing to try? Simply believe in the fact that happiness is changeable. One study found that people who believe happiness levels can change are more likely to report greater levels of well being, as well as higher relationship and job satisfaction, than those who believe happiness is set in stone.
Increasing your happiness can help your weight and wellness journey, too. That’s because happier people make healthier choices—they eat healthier, get more active, and even sleep better. It’s also a virtuous cycle, as those actions in turn contribute to happiness!
Boosting your happiness reverberates into all areas of your life, science has shown, as happier people tend to have stronger communities and support, better work lives and more energy. So, how do you make it happen?
Visit your happy place more often
Often, we get busy and prioritize other responsibilities over doing more of what we enjoy. We might not even realize that we’ve neglected to intentionally plan to do things that bring us happiness.
So, this week, try setting a goal to prioritize doing something that makes you happy. After you complete the activity, reflect on it and consider how it made you feel. Did it make you happier? What thoughts and feelings stuck with you afterward?
A hint when choosing an activity: Consider one that you find satisfying and that requires your full attention, like cooking an unfamiliar recipe, drawing a complex still life, or going on a bike ride, as these types of absorbing activities have been associated with longer-term happiness. That said, if you feel like doing something more passive and relaxing, like watching a movie or listening to music, that’s OK, too!