Everybody wants to be happier, right? The problem is — as anyone who’s ever dated that sulky loner knows, or told themselves that buying those expensive shoes will make you feel better — that we don’t always have the sense of what will or won’t bring us joy. Which is why you might want to turn to science: In the last few decades, researchers who dedicate themselves to exploring the makeup of human happiness have tested everything from how you spend money to how you spend your lunch hour. We’ve gathered nine suggestions you can tackle now.
1. Count Your Blessings
When was the last time you sat back and gave some thought to all those things, big and small, that make your life great? A study from the University of California, Riverside and Duke University found that counting one’s blessings can indeed make you happier. “It makes you more mindful and aware of the good things in life,” says psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The Myths of Happiness.” So, if you can’t remember the last time you did this, start counting now. Maybe it’s that painting you toted all the way home from your trip to Mexico that always brings a smile to your face, or the solid group of friends and family who always have your back. Whatever it is, pause on each thought and relish the good you have in your life.
2. Learn Something
Not all free time is created equal: While Americans on average spend two months a year watching TV, study after study shows it actually makes us pretty morose. A better choice: Taking a class. “Intrinsic activities—those that allow you to connect with others or help you grow, tend to make you happier in the long run,” says Lyubomirsky.
3. Go for Walks
Getting outside is good for you—and it doesn’t matter where you wander. For a University of Michigan study, a group of college students were asked to take walks, half in a quiet nature setting and half in noisy city streets. Afterwards, both groups reported feeling happier (though the Walden walkers also showed improved attention and memory.)
Read the full article "Skip the McBurger and other simple ways to boost your mood" at The Washington Post.