Happy People Habits
Adopt these happiness-boosting habits to live more happily
Happiness doesn’t always happen by chance, often times, it happens because of the choices that we make. And the good news is, anyone up their happiness index by choosing to develop the right habits. Let’s take a look at a few:
GET SUFFICIENT SLEEP
We know that our body recovers from the stresses of the day and repairs itself during sleep, allowing us to be more focused and productive the next day. As it turns out, sleep is also important for happiness, here’s why: our brain processes negative stimuli through the amygdala, while positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala, resulting in sleep-deprived people struggling to recall pleasant memories (yet being able to recall gloomy memories just fine).
Here’s more: A study published in the BPS Research Digest explored how sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. Using a facial recognition task throughout the course of a day, researchers studied how sensitive participants were to emotions, both positive and negative. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap, became more sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger. So to be happier and more productive, aim to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep (for people aged between 18 to 64) – and if your work environment allows it, catching a 15 to 20 minute midday nap might just be what you need to uplift your day.
Studies show that when you’re trying to bump up how happy you feel, experiences triumph over possessions. So rather than go on a late-night shopping spree, consider buying tickets for a show tonight. In fact, just being able to look forward to seeing the performance will be enough to boost your mood, say US researchers.
Here’s more: Not only is watching live theatre also great for your physical health (partaking in cultural activities has been linked to improvements in general health and wellbeing, as well as lower anxiety levels), studies show that social time is also highly valuable when it comes to increasing our happiness (this applies to introverts too). So pick up the phone and double your shot of happiness by making a date with a loved one!
REWIRE YOUR BRAIN FOR HAPPINESS
Meditation has long been touted as a key habit for improving focus, clarity, and present awareness, but as it turns out, this grounding practice is also highly effective for improving happiness levels. A study conducted Massachusetts General Hospital found changes in the brain scans of the 16 people who participated in an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation. After completing the course, researchers found that the parts of participants’ brains which were associated with self-awareness and compassion grew, while the parts that were associated with stress, shrank.
Here’s more: Studies have shown that our brain structure can be permanently altered through long term meditation to raise levels of happiness. We feel calm and content after meditating, and experience heightened awareness, plus higher levels of empathy. Make time to meditate every day (even if it’s just for three minutes). “Meditation promotes an overall sense of well-being, inner peace, stability and calmness,” says Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher, Rie Komiya, who teaches at The Yoga School. “We can choose to meditate at any time during the day, and doing it around the same time everyday helps to make this a daily habit. Mornings are a great option (especially before the sun rises as it’s naturally quiet and reflective time). Or we can meditate at night too, just before going to bed. Choose a quiet place and make it your cozy meditation spot – fill it with scented candles and flowers, or anything that uplifts you.”