Happiness is a universal need whose mechanisms philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, and economists have attempted to comprehend. Although the pursuit of happiness is as old as humanity itself, its scientific study (not religious or philosophical) is relatively recent, and research on the issue has expanded in recent decades, aided by the remarkable growth of neuroscience.
Almost every branch of science has investigated what makes us happy and what does not, and the results are as varied as the amount of research conducted on the issue. These are nine of the most compelling conclusions established by science.
How to achieve Happiness in Life
1. Make lots and lots of friends
Contact with our friends has a significant impact on our psychological well-being, and everyone who have lost a friend must have suffered through this. But how many friends do we really need to be happy? Individuals with less than five friends have a 40% likelihood of being happy. This is the issue that Richard Tunney, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham, attempted to address by interviewing over 17,000 people to determine the relationship between happiness and friendship.
According to him, those who are extremely content with their lives have twice as many friends as those who are extremely unsatisfied. Although quantifying these issues are difficult to assess. Tunney asserts that individuals with less than five friends have a 40% likelihood of happiness. After ten friends, people have a stronger proclivity towards happiness than for sadness.
According to a study conducted by sociologist Ruut Veenhoven, the countries with the strongest associative network have the happiest citizens. Denmark, the country with the happiest population, also has the largest percentage of people participating in collective activities, at 92 percent, according to the study. This form of social activity helps to reduce the number of people who live alone and boosts the population’s friend base.
2. Jot down everyday the good things that happen to you
As multiple studies have demonstrated, gratitude is the part of our character that is most closely connected with life satisfaction and all of the positive outcomes associated with it, including pleasure. According to Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, the simplest approach to cultivate thankfulness is to keep a daily journal of three positive events that occurred during the day. In an experiment, the researcher discovered that those who formed this habit were happier than those who did not.
3. Avoid a mundane lifestyle. Look for newer experiences!
Individuals who engage in more adventures, are willing to attempt new things, and break away from routine are, on average, happier than those who do the same thing every day. According to Ryan Howell, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University, persons who spend a greater proportion of their money on experiences (trips, dinners, leisure) and less on tangible possessions are much happier.
4. Anticipate your happiness
As motivational speaker Carlos Andreu recently noted in an interview in El Confidencial, “we constantly believe that we would be happier when we have a better job or a new automobile, but the illusion is not in the when, but in the while.” According to many studies, we may boost our happiness in life if we keep an eye out for situations that we know will offer it, even if we are not enjoying them at the time.
People are happier at work when there is little time left for the holidays, and we are happier on Friday than we are on Monday when a promising weekend awaits us. We get happier when we consider something that will bring us joy. Consideration of something that will bring us happiness makes us happier.
Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard University, dives into the topic of anticipation of pleasure in his book Stumbling on Happiness (Vintage, 2007). Gilbert asserts that expectation of pleasure enables us to squeeze twice the number of joyful circumstances. In one experiment, a group of individuals was invited to a complimentary supper at a reputable French restaurant.
They were given the option of when to eat. The participants who waited the longest to eat were the happiest, not only because they liked the evening, but also because they enjoyed thinking about how well they were going to have a wonderful time with a decent bottle of champagne and a substantial portion of oysters.
5. Find Love
Numerous studies have established that love has a significant impact on our happiness. According to statistics, persons who are in a relationship are often happier than those who are single. That love is necessary for happiness was one of the major results obtained by the Grant Study, a seven-decade-long endeavour that has served as a major reference in the field of personal happiness research.
George Valliant, who took over the study in 1966, recently wrote a book on the study’s conclusions and is unambiguous: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars spent on the Grant Project point to a single conclusion that can be summarised in five words: happiness is love.”
6. Smile more often
In 1989, Roberto Zajonc, an American psychologist of Polish ancestry, conducted one of the first studies on the psychological effects of facial expressions. The researcher administered a test to a group of volunteers in which they were required to emit various phonetic sounds: when they said an I (the English “e”) with a facial expression comparable to that of a grin, they felt better than when they uttered the “u.”
Zajonc concluded that facial expressions have a causal association with certain brain activity associated with happiness after examining the influence of the grin in other contexts, such as in front of a mirror or through images. In short, if we smile, even if our mood is not conducive, we will feel better. Although Zajonc’s theories have been contested, despite the passage of more than two decades, his notion continues to be advocated by a large number of researchers.
7. Look out for bluish environments
According to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, blue is the calmest hue and the one that makes both men and women the happiest. The researchers arrived to this conclusion after monitoring brain activity, blood pressure, and perspiration levels in a group of volunteers exposed to environments with varying degrees of colour and light. Purple elicited similar responses in women as blue did, but not in men.
Adding more colour to our life can make us happy. The researchers believe that blue’s beneficial effects are evolutionary in nature, as our forefathers associated the hue of the sky in the afternoon with the satisfaction of a day well spent (for those who survived) and the possibility of a restful night’s sleep.
Smith asserts that merely adding additional colours to our life, not only blue, can make us happier. Something that is especially important during the winter, when darkness robs our lives of colour. He began wearing multicoloured socks after completing the trial.
8. Achieve your goals
Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has discovered through numerous research that striving for and achieving a goal triggers pleasant emotions and, more crucially, suppresses negative ones such as dread or depression. According to Davidson, we can all change for the better because our brains are wired for it through neuro plasticity, an area in which Davidson is a world expert.
9. Be generous
According to Stanford University psychologist Emma Seppala, head of the Centre for Research on Compassion and Altruism, happiness is found in giving rather than in possessing or advancing one’s social and professional status. In other words, being empathetic and kind with others improves one’s overall well-being. Altruism activates pleasure-producing brain areas, alleviates stress, anxiety, and sadness, strengthens personal relationships, and even extends our life expectancy.