8 Scientific Practices That Make You Happier
I’ve been following the science behind happiness for some time now, and examining the implications for engagement and wellness. From my Vipassana training, I learned that being happy involves letting go of what is not ours, especially if what is offered is negative and untruthful.
There is a lot of solid research on what makes us happy. Here’s a juicy summary:
- Diet: Plant-based foods decrease stress and anxiety, leading to a happier you. I can attest to this, as writing Alchemus Prime’s plant-based recipe books, including all the experimenting with new dishes and variations are a world of fun. And, we feel so good after these nourishing, flavorful meals, and research suggests that plant-based food boosts productivity and stamina at work. Plant-based diets are also good for your sex drive – happiness in bed anyone?
- Gratitude: Feeling grateful and cultivating gratitude makes us happier, helps improve our relationships, makes us less morally hypocritical, and can make life better for folks around us.
- Focusing on signature character strengths: Research suggests that doing what we are good at increases engagement, happiness, and meaningfulness at work. Being encouraged to pick a signature strength and use it in a new way each day for a week boosts happiness for up to a month.
- Good company: Spending time with people we like and building strong relationships makes us happier and less regretful. Friendships in particular are important for our happiness.
- Generosity: Giving support to loved ones makes us happier and we can even live longer, compared to receiving. Spending money on others improves happiness and wellbeing. Volunteering – that is, giving our time – also boosts our mood and improves our self-esteem.
- Savoring: Being mindful of small daily events, and slowing down enough to really enjoy them, whether it’s a meal, or time with a loved one, or a walk outside, can improve our happiness.
- Drive: Being complacent is not a happy place. Setting challenging goals and striving to meeting them makes us happier.
- Unreasonable optimism: Being optimistic is important for happiness. In relationships, having positive illusions about our partners can bring more trust and persistence. Moderate overconfidence also helps us be more productive at work.
This research is very affirming as I continuously assess my own approach to life and work. In particular, it’s neat to see scientific backing for my own relentless idealism and optimism, generosity, and focus on relationships before tasks.
Share with me your thoughts on how you fare at being happy from day to day, and what you want to try next.