We’re on the brink of International Happiness Day, a day founded by the United Nations in recognition of the importance of promoting happiness. How can you be happier in your day-to-day life? It’s a surprisingly complicated question to answer, but science points us toward several ideas of how to increase our happy feelings.
Focus on Friends and Family
Who knows you better than your friends and family? Your time spent devoted to these relationships is incredibly valuable. Having a community to share your worries, dreams, and memories with allows you to grow and informs your identity. More than that, scientists have found that interacting with people you have strong ties—your closest friends and family, that is—improves your feelings of happiness.
Money Can’t Buy Everything
Of course, money cannot buy happiness. But that doesn’t mean that it plays no role in your well-being. Prioritize using money to purchase experiences—vacations, concert tickets, a fancy dinner out—rather than possessions. And, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, don’t undervalue the importance of money in getting you back time: use money to reduce time spent on tedious chores. Maybe it’s grocery shopping you despise, or mowing the lawn, or the drag of tax time. If you can pay someone to reduce the amount of time spent on these tasks—and increase your time spent on more happiness-inducing activities—that’s money well spent.
Yes, yet another recommendation for exercise. If you see these recommendations frequently, it’s because the effect of exercise is just that powerful: not only does it increase your overall energy, and lead to a rush of endorphins, but exercising can also increase your feelings of self-worth, according to studies. And, you don’t have to run a marathon—or even a 5K—to get these benefits from working out. The New York Times reports that even as few as seven minutes of high impact exercise can make a difference.
Tap Into Your Creativity
Expressing yourself creativity, whether through writing or art, can be a powerful boost to your mood. And that has nothing to do with the end product of your creativity: just spending time engaged in a creative activity can lead to increased happiness according to studies reported on in the Pacific Standard.
So too can the rush of learning something new—if you’ve been thinking of taking up a hobby, stop hesitating. Gretchen Rubin, author of the best-selling book The Happiness Project, writes “People who do new things―learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places―are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well.”
Want an easy way to feel happy? Take time to appreciate what you have. Just saying aloud, or writing down, the positives in your life can be a powerful reminder of what’s going well. In a study done to pinpoint the impact of gratitude on mood, people who wrote down things they were grateful for on a daily basis were far more optimistic and happier than groups who wrote down negatives or neutral events about their day.
Think outside of yourself and spend time volunteering. The effects are powerful, says Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota. “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness,” he comments.
Yellow is a bit of a complicated color: an eye-catching, attention-getting vibrant pop. It may be best to avoid painting a room entirely in yellow, for instance, since that can result in feelings of frustration and anger, according to About.com. But studies find it’s also very linked to the feeling of happiness and cheerfulness. Try our yellow Mood-Lites to infuse your day with the color of happy.