10 Secret Happiness Hacks For You

10 Happiness Hacks From Psychology Science

Top 10 happiness hacks from the science of happiness, that is, positive psychology. These ten psychologists-suggested happiness hacks emerged after lots of experiments. Each of these easy-to-do activities is proven effective in raising your happiness levels.

We duly mention the scientific researches that lead to the hack in each case.

The 10 Happiness Hacks Backed By Science

You may quickly grab the list-pic below if you are short of time. And, if you enjoy these happiness hacks and want to know more, please read on for a better understanding of each point.

10 Happiness Tricks

Here are the 10 happiness hacks backed by science:

Hack #1. Get Social

Daniel Gilbert, Harvard professor and author of the wildly popular humorous read, Stumbling on Happiness, says:

We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.

This is perhaps the easiest happiness hack in this list. Also, it is also the one that gives the most — who else can make you happier than your friends or family?

20 Things Happy Friends Do Together
20 Things Happy Friends Do Together
We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends. — Daniel Gilbert Click To Tweet

Hack #2. Exercise

It is perhaps the commonest new year resolution around the world. Our own health always holds the top position in our health plans. Science validates this. People who exercise are happy because they feel better about their bodies, they stay protected from depression.

Why does exercise make us happier? Here’s why: a study in the Journal of Health Psychology found people who exercised are happier because they feel better about their bodies.

Find out more on what’s the brain science behind exercise and happiness.

Exercise and Happiness
Exercise = Happiness

Once you get into a habit of exercise, this happiness hack keeps you giving for years and decades. So, start a habit of exercising as a daily routine, and see yourself become happier.

People who exercise are happy because they stay protected from depression. Click To Tweet

Hack #3. Meditate

Meditation over periods of time changes the brain structure — scientifically termed neuroplasticity (read the fascinating story of how the Silver Spring monkeys gave science one of its best breakthroughs in this field) — to enhance more self-awareness, compassion, and calmness within us. It also reduces out stress response to unexpected events, actual or anticipated.

Meditation increases self-awareness, compassion, and calmness within us.

Mindfulness meditation is an easy and accessible way to meditate.

Mindfulness is defined by Marlatt & Kristeller as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Mindfulness meditation provides many observed benefits, including:

  • reduction in stress levels
  • increment of self-awareness
  • improvement of focus
  • facilitation of calmness in the face of difficult emotions as frustration, resentment, boredom and anxiety.

Here’s a simple, beginner-level guide to start mindful meditation practice: Mindfulness In 7 Steps (PDF).

One thing to say of importance here is, you could get most of the benefits of mindfulness by meditation, but also quite some by mindful eating, mindful walking, and mindful contemplation.

Mindfulness is bringing one's full attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis. Click To Tweet

And if you want to start eating mindfully, then you must catch this: How To Stop Eating Mindlessly?

How To Stop Mindless Eating

Hack #4. Stop Overthinking

Overthinking in simple words means thinking the same thought over and over. It’s also called rumination in scientific parlance.

If one keeps over-analyzing everything, seeks untold meaning behind every word, and run and re-run the same thoughts in their mind, then they are into the habit of overthinking.

Overthinking is a common problem. And the dangers of overthinking are many.

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the world’s leading researcher on rumination, found that 73% of people between 25 to 35 years identified themselves as overthinkers. And among those, more were women (57%) than men (43%).

Overthinking quote by Amy Morin
How To Get Over Your Harmful Overthinking Habit

large study of 33,000 people found rumination and self-blame were significantly responsible for anxiety and depression in those who had a family history of mental health difficulties.

Overthinking can pull down one’s confidence, cut down their decision-making power, and steal away their problem-solving ability.

Learn about overthinking in an easy way, through some of the most revealing Quotes About Overthinking.

Hack #5. Take A Nap.

A 2011 study done by The British Psychological Society and published in their Research Digest showed that people who stay awake throughout the day become increasingly more sensitive to negative emotions.

Whereas people who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative emotions, and yet more responsive to positive ones.

The researchers put forward the reason behind this that, possibly, the prefrontal cortex in our brain becomes fatigued through the day and therefore less able to dampen down emotional reactivity in the sub-cortex.

Six Science-Backed Sleep Hacks
Six Science-Backed Sleep Hacks

By the way, do you know, for greatest benefits, how many minutes are the best length of an ideal nap?

People who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative emotions. Click To Tweet

Hack #6. Go For A Nature Walk

Spending time outside in the nature freshens our mood, improves our working memory, and reduces our stress. George MacKerron in his paper Happiness Is Greater In Natural Environments writes:

On average, study participants are significantly and substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than they are in urban environments.

This is another easy happiness hack, that you could well include into your weekend plans.

Happiness hack - Go for forest walk
Happiness hack: A forest walk
Nature walks are associated with lower depression, less stress, and enhanced well-being. Click To Tweet

Hack #7. Be More Grateful

Gratitude is the practice of counting our blessings and being thankful for good things in our lives. Those who have inculcated the habit of gratitude into their lives have been found to have greater levels of emotional and interpersonal wellbeing as compared to others. Gratitude increases our long-term happiness.

3 Good Things Gratitude Exercise

By the way, gratitude is not just saying thanks. Showing gratitude is to do three things:

  1. appreciate it,
  2. feel it,
  3. say it.
Gratitude increases our long-term happiness. Click To Tweet

Hack #8. Spend On Others

We, as human beings, are naturally wired to derive emotional gains from spending our money to help others (what psychologists call prosocial spending). This is the happiness advantage of prosocial spending.

Happiness comes from our own actions
Happiness comes from our own actions

In a 2013 social experiment by Lara Aknin, Robert Biswas-Diener and Elizabeth Dunn, participants in Canada and South Africa who were randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive affect than those assigned to buy the same items for themselves.

We are naturally wired to gain emotionally from spending our money to help others. Click To Tweet

Hack #9. Listen to Happy Music

Music therapy has been found to have positive effect in various mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse. Recently, Gold and others in study found that, in addition to to usual care, individual music therapy can be used to an effective advantage for clients with low motivation.

Psychology of Music and Happiness
Psychology of Music and Happiness

Hack #10. Adjust To Life’s Challenges

We saved the best happiness hack for the last. If you ask me, this is one hack you should use as much as possible. This is:

Be flexible to the challenges life throws at you.

Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University, and a leading authority on happiness, says,

Human beings have the potential to better tolerate and effectively use emotions, thoughts, and behavior to extract the best possible outcomes in varying situations. This wide range of dynamic abilities forms the essence of health.

After all, a healthy person is someone who can manage themselves in the uncertain, unpredictable world around them, where novelty and change are the norm rather than the exception.

Todd Kashdan quote positive psychology
A healthy person is someone who can manage themselves in an uncertain, unpredictable world around them. – Todd Kashdan Click To Tweet

What Are Happiness Hacks

Happiness is a moving target if you pursue it. Everybody seems to desire it in direct or indirect ways. But if it were easy to get a firm and lasting grip on it, the whole of humanity would be happy, and we wouldn’t have to keep looking for it.

It’s not too difficult to make our lives happier, and here are some science-backed ideas we can use to raise our happiness levels. By happiness hacks, we mean activities that make us happier.

The 10 happiness hacks you find here are based on happiness-enhancing activities that the positive psychologists recommend. These are called happiness interventions, that is, treatment methods or intentional activities aimed at cultivating positive feelings, positive behaviors, or positive mental processes as thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, problem-solving.

The activities we picked up for you to do in this post are mostly a breeze. These are quite effective in making us more joyful in real time, as studies show. So, give them a try today!

However, remember that correlation does not indicate causation. That is, they do not guarantee you an immediate happiness uptick, but we can safely say most people who did these got happier over time.

And, for the witch-hunting accusatory critics of positive psychology, the point to mention here is the one championed by Robert Biswas-Diener in defense of his co-authored book The Upside of Your Dark Side:

Reading the research gave us our ideas, not the other way around. It is a mistake to think that we had ideas and then went searching for odd studies to support them.

The Pope’s 10 Happiness Tips

It may interest you that in July 2014, Pope Francis compiled his Top 10 To-Do Things for Happiness, based on his own experiences. We mention three here:

  1. Be giving of yourself to others.
  2. Proceed calmly through life.
  3. Have a healthy sense of leisure.

The Pope also asked parents to make time to play with their children, and turn off the TV while eating together.

Final Words

A Harvard study about the factors determining the overall happiness in life, the Grant Study of Adult Development, was conducted over a period of more than 75 years, charting the physical and emotional health of 268 participants since their sophomore years at Harvard.

It resulted in three books — Adaptation to Life (1977), Aging Well (2002) and Triumphs of Experience (2012) by George Eman Vaillant, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard medical School. Vaillant’s main conclusion was that ‘warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on life satisfaction‘.

His exact words when he talked about the study are something you will remember for a long, long time:

Love is really all that matters for humans to be happy. Happiness is love. Full stop. — George E. Vaillant Click To Tweet

Video: 10 Hacks For A Happy Life

10 Secret Hacks For A Happier Life

Since you’re here, please make a quick visit to this lovingly written extensive article: How To Be Happy In A Day!

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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.

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