Yale University psychology professor Lori Santos believes most people have no idea what they need to be happy. Many believe they’ll start living a better life once they get rich or get a new job. But they will be disappointed. In fact, research shows that happiness is a skill that everyone can learn. Here are a few techniques and attitudes that will help you experience more positive emotions every day.
Share Pleasant Experiences With Others
A lot of scientific work confirms that when people do something together, they enjoy it more. In one study, volunteers were asked to eat chocolate. If they could share it with a stranger neighbor, it would taste better.
To get the most out of travel and walks, going to restaurants, exhibitions and concerts, take your friends with you. Also, try to take fewer pictures. This process engages the vision and related parts of the brain. Other senses are dulled, and emotions become not so bright
Don’t Pass up Opportunities to Help Others
Researchers from Oxford have found: helping others on a regular basis increases happiness. Saving lives isn’t necessary for that. Even small actions – pointing the right way, helping to carry a heavy bag, teaching how to place bets and earn extra via 20 Bet, transferring $10 to a charity, holding the elevator door – will improve psychological well-being.
By doing something for others, people feel included in the human community. The brain finds this behavior helpful and, to reinforce it, releases a dose of the mood-enhancing dopamine
Make Choices Less Often in Everyday Life
Making a decision is stressful. The brain has to assess and compare a huge number of factors in a matter of minutes. And later it may turn out that the decision it makes is not the best one. This will lead to stress again.
It’s good to reduce the number of decisions to be happy. Try eating the same thing for breakfast every day. Or, for example, buy five sets of casual clothes to go to work. This will save time and energy for more important decisions and keep destructive doubts at bay
Get a Pet
If you have the energy and resources for a pet, it’s worth getting one. According to research, dog owners are less likely to feel lonely and their lives seem full of meaning. Dog owners tend to have higher socialization levels and lower anxiety levels. Daily walks give them the exercise they need.
All in all, a dog makes life better on a number of fronts, helping to improve your physical and mental health and making every day a little bit more enjoyable.
Don’t Discount Your Accomplishments
People often devalue their achievements. Just compare them with other people’s achievements: there will always be someone more successful.
This is especially noticeable among the winners of sports competitions. Silver medalists often feel unhappy because they compare themselves to gold medalists. Meanwhile, the bronze medalists experience an emotional lift: they have managed to take a place on the podium, unlike the majority. It’s the same in everyday life: our mood depends on who we compare ourselves to.
You can fight this with the help of negative visualization. When analyzing your successes, it’s important not to look for what someone did better, but to visualize in color what may have prevented you.
Talk to Strangers
Try not to avoid conversations with people you don’t know or don’t know at all: fellow travelers, neighbors, concierges, and store cashiers. A couple of friendly phrases will be enough to improve your mood.
It’s critical for people to feel connected to others. It reduces stress and anxiety, boosts confidence and is simply enjoyable. It also helps fight feelings of loneliness – the main enemy of happiness.
Don’t Suppress Painful Memories and Thoughts
Strong and unpleasant emotions do not go away by themselves, and painful memories are rarely forgotten. They usually live on the edge of consciousness, forcing the brain to expend energy on suppressing them and causing chronic stress.
If something unpleasant happened, you need to find a way to talk about it. Better with someone who is supportive, such as a friend. This will help to put your thoughts and feelings in order, to look at the situation in a new way and so lessen the stress reaction. You can also try to describe the unpleasant situation on paper – this is called writing therapy.
Imagine Possible Problems
The brain doesn’t care if we are experiencing an event in reality or imagining it. You can use this to prepare for events that make you anxious, such as a difficult task or an unpleasant conversation. The method is called mental contrasting.
Before the event, imagine in as much detail as possible what might go wrong during it – and how you will deal with it. This will help your brain gain experience for dealing with possible problems. As a result, if trouble does happen, it will be easier to deal with
Switch to a Growth Mindset
This term was coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. A growth mindset is an approach to life where failure is seen only as a workout. Just because something fails now doesn’t mean it never will. Especially with new knowledge and experience.
In practice, this means that you should not give up on yourself if it seems that you cannot make a lot of money, run a business or speak Spanish. Determine what skills you lack and work on acquiring and improving them.
Smile More Often
Even if you don’t feel like it. Scientists have found that it has a beneficial effect on the inner state. Smiling makes your facial muscles work the way they do during happy moments. It tricks the brain: it decides that something good is going on in its owner’s life right now, and turns on the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.