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Happiness is somewhat in our control. Studies show that 50% of a person’s happiness is genetic, 10% is circumstantial, and 40% is based on intentional activity.
So, how can you shift that 40% in your favour?
Psychologists have found a lot of surprising things that make people happy.
Different things make men and women happy. Think of a keg for men and a manicure for women.
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa says realising this difference is one of the keys to happiness. 'One of the best ways to improve happiness is to recognise and accept that we are animals,' she writes. 'We are all designed by evolution to be a certain way, and no amount of denial or fighting will change our evolutionary legacy and its implications. One of the ways that men and women are different is in what makes them happy.'
A global Nielsen study of 28,153 people from 51 nations found what makes each sex tick: 'Men are happier with money, while women find greater joy in friendships and relationships with their children, co-workers and bosses.'
A recent study tracked the symptoms of depression in people who were trying to quit smoking. It was found that subjects were happiest whenever they were successful -- even if they were only successful for one day.
Simply trying to quit was enough to boost the subjects' moods.
Find something you don't like about yourself and nip it pronto for an extra surge of endorphins.
Money doesn't buy happiness; countless studies have proven that.
Why? Because wealthy people usually make money by doing stressful work; they don't spend much time relaxing and enjoying life.
But a new study found that money can make you happy -- if your salary doesn't exceed $75,000.
According to a research report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 'People's emotional well-being -- happiness -- increases along with their income up to about $75,000.'
People who say thank you are generally happier people. So are those who frequently discuss and write about what they're thankful for. And if you can cherish the small things in life, scientists say you'll be even happier.
Christopher Peterson, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, says the ability to forgive is also at trait strongly linked to positive people.
A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Princeton and Harvard found that thinking quickly can cause feelings of elation. The researchers had subjects watch television in fast forward, quickly come up with solutions to problems, and read ideas that moved quickly on computer screens.
'The results showed that participants experienced a feeling of elation, felt more creative and, in some instances, more powerful and energetic,' says MmegiOnline. 'There is also some evidence to show that the pleasure feeling chemical dopamine may be released when we think faster.'
When it comes to happiness, experiences trump tangible items.
'It appears that prioritizing success and material goals is actually harmful to life satisfaction,' says researcher Bruce Heady of the University of Melborne.
Materials are more comparable. People get upset if they buy something and then realise they could have gotten a better deal, or if they feel their item is trumped by someone else's.
Rachael Rettner of LiveScience explains the reasons to take a trip abroad instead of a trip to the store:
- 'People are more likely to mull over their material purchases than they are experiential ones, second-guessing themselves about whether they really made the best choice.
- 'We tend to think of experiences more on their own terms, rather than in comparison with other things.
- 'It's easier for us to decide on an experiential purchase than a material one.
- 'We're more upset if we learn that someone else got a better deal, or that a better option exists, for a material purchase than for an experience-related one.'
The magic recipe for happiness is approximately six hours and 20 minutes of sleep every night, says The Daily Mail.
They reported a study in which experts examined the lifestyles of 4,000 adults and asked them to rate their happiness on a scale of one to five. The six-hour sleepers ranked highest.
The Daily Mail reports a study in which 4,000 adults were polled about their happiness. Researchers found that healthy eaters who ate four servings of fruits and vegetables every day felt the best emotionally.
Robin Lloyd of LiveScience writes, 'Exercise is no sure-fire happy pill, and some say it has to be intense, or anaerobic (involving short energy bursts that cause the body to run out temporarily of oxygen), to bring on the psychological boost, but experts say it is a part of the feel-good equation.'
Exercise effects two primary happiness chemicals - endorphins and cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced when people feel stressed. Exercising burns it away while increasing the release of endorphins, a hormone that is said to cause more euphoric feelings than opiate drugs.
Studies have also shown that thin, fit individuals are happier on average than those who are overweight.
The Quality Of Life Research Study at Harvard University shows people who believe in a higher power and are active in their religious communities are happier.
In addition, the study found that Loving-Kindness Meditation decreases stress, increases confidence, and makes people focused, peaceful and positive.
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