Simple suggestions to improve your day.
1. Write down your happy thoughts
In a recent study conducted in the UK, participants who wrote about some of the most wonderful experiences of their lives for twenty minutes a day reported lower levels of stress for four weeks after completing only three days of journaling.
But it doesn’t have to take you twenty minutes. Even something as simple as writing down three good things that have happened to you that day has been shown to have a significant impact on happiness.
In a study of nearly 600 people conducted by researchers at three US universities, reflecting on positive experiences boosted happiness both in the short term and over the next six months.
2. Learn to identify your strengths, and then use them!
In the same study of 600 people, participants who took an online test to identify character strengths were then asked to use one of those strengths in a new and different way every day for one week. Participants who did this reported higher levels of happiness for six months after the week was up.
3. Take fifteen minutes out to do nothing
In a 2017 study, researchers from Rochester University found that solitude can help with both relaxation and stress reduction. The researchers defined solitude as “being alone for a period of time with no access to devices, personal interactions, external stimuli, or activities.” In four separate studies, the period of solitude lasted for fifteen minutes and the participants were asked to sit alone and try to think either positive or neutral thoughts instead of doing anything specific.
4. Say thank you, even for the smallest things
In a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that people who expressed gratitude, even for small things, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic regarding their expectations for the upcoming week.
5. Try a random act of kindness
Cooperating with others or deciding to be generous activates an area of the brain called the striatum. This area responds to things we find rewarding. The ‘warm glow’ we get from helping others corresponds with activity we see in the striatum and researchers think that this is likely the biological basis of that feeling.
Being kind to someone is an opportunity to strengthen a friendship or make a social connection, both of which are linked to improved mood.