6 Little Habits That Boost Happiness

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Everyone feels the need to be happy all the time. Sometimes it can be a challenge. Feel happier instantly with these little habits proven to lift your mood.
By Jessica Dysart

 

    
Listen to nature sounds

Remember that CD of soothing nature sounds that’s probably buried in a box in the attic? If you’re feeling a little down, it might be time to dig it up again. A study from Pennsylvania State University found that listening to a recording of natural sounds for just three minutes after watching a disturbing video boosted the study participants’ moods. Other noises or silence won’t work, however - the groups that listened to nature sounds mixed with voices or motorized noises or just silence showed no change in mood at all.
   
Smile!

A simple smile can be all you need to lift your mood - but you have to mean it. A Michigan State University study found that customer service workers who smiled during the day when thinking positive thoughts experienced better moods than those who fake smiled. Recall a happy memory and grin for an instant happiness booster.
   
Try to be happy

You know what they say: Fake it until you make it. Turns out this strategy also applies to happiness, according to two studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. After listening to upbeat music, participants in the first study who actively tried to feel happier actually did, compared to those who just listened. Researchers observed the same results over time in the next study: those who listened to positive music and concentrated on becoming happier over a two-week period were happier than those who just listened.
 
Do something for someone else

Giving your grandchild a gift gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. That’s because, according to a study in Science, spending money (it doesn’t have to be a lot - as little as $5 works) on others makes you happier. Happier, in fact, than if you spent money on yourself. Next time you need a little retail therapy, pick up a gift for a loved one.
   
Get sunlight

We know we need to protect our skin from the sun, but that doesn’t mean we need to hide in the shade. Not getting enough sunlight, in fact, can lead to a dip in mood and memory in older adults, according to a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. A 2011 study showed that more sun exposure correlated with less symptoms of depression, and higher vitamin D levels (which the body produces when exposed to UV rays) meant improved moods. Soak up the rays when you can, but don’t forget your sunscreen.
  
Walk this way

Add a little pep in your step for an extra dose of happiness. Changing the way you walk - like moving your arms more and rolling shoulders back - affects the way you feel. Research published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that walking like you are happy improved mood, while walking with slumped shoulders had the opposite effect.

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