1. Most people are happy most of the time
Maybe you don’t need to do anything at all to feel happy…
People are, on average, in a mildly good mood most of the time all around the world, a new study finds.
Researchers have reviewed evidence drawn from many different nations — rich and poor, stable and unstable.
As long as people have not just experienced a strong emotional event, even those in poor circumstances are likely to be in a mild positive mood.
2. The mid-life dip is normal
Life satisfaction dips in middle age, after which it starts going up again beyond the age of 54, a new study of worldwide well-being finds.
The dip in life satisfaction occurs around the age of 45 until 54, and is seen across many wealthy English-speaking countries, including the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Professor Angus Deaton, one of the study’s co-authors, said:
“This finding is almost expected.
This is the period at which wage rates typically peak and is the best time to work and earn the most, even at the expense of present well-being, so as to have increased wealth and well-being later in life.”
3. Take a tip from seniors
With increasing age, people get more pleasure out of everyday experiences; while younger people define themselves more by extraordinary experiences, a new study finds.
The study asked over 200 people between the ages of 19 and 79 about happy experiences they’d had that were both ordinary and extraordinary.
It was older people who managed to extract more pleasure from relatively ordinary experiences.
They got more pleasure out of spending time with their family, from the look on someone’s face or a walk in the park.
4. Prioritise positivity
An approach to life called ‘prioritising positivity’ has been linked for the first time to increased well-being.
Prioritising positivity is all about organising your everyday life around activities which bring pleasure.
The authors explain:
“Perhaps people high on prioritizing positivity reserve Saturday afternoons for watching college football or taking their family to a local park.
Maybe others start their weekdays running or drinking tea while reading the New York Times.
Some people may consistently seek out activities that elicit calm and contentment whereas others may seek out excitement and vigor.
The exact behaviors or choices may differ drastically from one person to the next…”
5. Walk happy, feel happy
It’s well-known that when we’re in a good mood, our style of walking tends to reflect how we feel: we bounce along, shoulders back, swinging our arms in style.
Sometimes, just from our gait, it’s more obvious to other people how we feel than to ourselves.
Now, a new study finds that it also works the other way around: people who imitate a happy style of walking, even without realising it, find themselves feeling happier.
6. Act like an extrovert (even if you’re not)
Acting like an extrovert — even if you are an introvert — makes people all around the world feel happier, recent research suggests.
The findings come from surveys of hundreds of people in the US, Venezuela, the Philippines, China and Japan
Across the board, people reported that they felt more positive emotions in daily situations where they either acted or felt more extroverted.
The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, also found that people tended to behave in a more upbeat way when they felt most free.
7. Mindful dishwashing
Mindful dishwashing can decrease stress and calm the mind, a new study finds.
People in the study focused on the smell of the soap, the feel and shape of the dishes to help them enter a mindful state.
Doing the dishes in a mindful way also increased the pleasurable feeling of time slowing down, the researchers found.
8. Seek out the feeling of awe
That jaw-dropping moment when coming across something surprising, powerful, beautiful or even sublime can have a transformative effect.
Awe makes people more patient, less materialistic and more open to helping out others.
This may happen because awe slows down our subjective experience of time.
Awe, the authors write, has two components (in case you want to seek it out scientifically!):
“First, awe involves perceptual vastness, which is the sense that one has encountered something immense in size, number, scope, complexity, ability, or social bearing (e.g., fame, authority).
Second, awe stimulates a need for accommodation; that is, it alters one’s understanding of the world.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Winning man image from Shutterstock