3 Simple Exercises That Instantly Make You Happier

Three simple happiness exercises that take just four minutes.

Three simple happiness exercises that take just four minutes.

Simple exercises, including reliving happy moments, can make you happier in just four minutes, research finds.

‘Reliving Happy Moments’ involves choosing a personal photo that captures a happy moment and adding a few words of description to it.

This exercise gave people in the study the greatest boost in happiness.

The results come from research including over 500 people who were (or had) experienced substance abuse.

Another exercise they were given is called ‘Savouring’ and involves noting and appreciating two positive experiences from yesterday.

This was almost as powerful as reliving happy moments.

Next most useful was “Rose, Bud, Thorns” which involves listing a highlight and a challenge from yesterday and a pleasure to be appreciated tomorrow.

Dr Bettina B. Hoeppner, the study’s first author, said:

“Addiction scientists are increasingly moving beyond the traditional focus on reducing or eliminating substance use by advocating treatment protocols that encompass quality of life.

Yet orchestrated positive experiences are rarely incorporated into treatment for those with substance use disorders.”

Dr Hoeppner continued:

“These findings underscore the importance of offsetting the challenges of recovery with positive experiences.

Recovery is hard, and for the effort to be sustainable, positive experiences need to be attainable along the way.”

The study was published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (Hoeppner et al., 2019).

The Surprising Personality Trait Linked To Happiness

People with this personality trait are more hopeful and assess their lives more positively.

People with this personality trait are more hopeful and assess their lives more positively.

People who believe in the oneness of everything are happier, research finds.

‘Oneness’ is the idea that everything in the world is interdependent and interconnected.

This includes a sense of connectedness to other people, nature and life in general.

Beliefs like these are incorporated in many religions.

However, whether or not people have a specific faith, they are more satisfied with life when they have a sense of ‘oneness’.

Activities such as yoga, meditation and action sports may help to increase the feeling of oneness or flow.

Dr Laura Marie Edinger-Schon, the study’s author, said:

“The feeling of being at one with a divine principle, life, the world, other people or even activities has been discussed in various religious traditions but also in a wide variety of scientific research from different disciplines.

The results of this study reveal a significant positive effect of oneness beliefs on life satisfaction, even controlling for religious beliefs.”

The conclusions come from two surveys that included almost 75,000 people.

People were asked whether they agreed with statements like:

  • “I believe that everything in the world is based on a common principle.”
  • “Everything in the world is interdependent and influenced by each other.”

They were also asked how much they felt connected to nature and other people and how happy they were.

The results showed that people who felt a sense of ‘oneness’ were more satisfied with their lives.

Dr Edinger-Schon explained her motivation for the study:

“I recognized that in various philosophical and religious texts, a central idea is the idea of oneness.

In my free time, I enjoy surfing, Capoeira, meditation and yoga, and all of these have been said to lead to experiences that can be described as being at one with life or nature or just experiencing a state of flow through being immersed in the activity.

I was wondering whether the larger belief in oneness is something that is independent of religious beliefs and how it affects satisfaction with life.”

The study was published in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Edinger-Schons, 2019).

These Personality Traits Make People Happiest

Having any, some or all of these qualities is linked to living a happier life, study finds.

Having any, some or all of these qualities is linked to living a happier life, study finds.

Being enthusiastic and difficult to discourage are two of the personality traits linked to the highest well-being, research finds.

Enthusiastic people tend to have more fun in life and experience fewer negative emotions.

Being difficult to discourage is related to more positive growth, self-acceptance and greater achievement in life.

These were not the only personality factors linked to well-being.

People who are industrious, compassionate and intellectually curious are also happier, but in different ways.

Industrious people, for example, work harder towards long-term goals and are very achievement-oriented.

Compassionate people tend to feel more positive emotions and have better relationships with others.

The intellectually curious are open to new ideas and they enjoy thinking deeply and benefit from greater personal growth.

The conclusions come from a survey of 706 US adults, who were asked about their personality and different aspects of their well-being.

The study demonstrates that there are different paths to happiness.

Positive emotions are good, but so is feeling satisfied with your life, being independent, reaching life goals and experiencing personal growth.

Personality psychologists typically identify high extraverts who are low in neuroticism as the happiest people, as the study’s authors explain:

“The large literature describing the associations between personality traits and well-being suggests that extraversion (the tendency to be bold, talkative, enthusiastic, and sociable) and neuroticism (the tendency to be emotionally unstable and prone to negative emotions) are especially strong predictors of well-being.

But is wellbeing only accessible to the extraverted and non-neurotic?”

No, they argue, being a non-neurotic extravert is not the only way to be happy.

If you look more closely at personality, it turns out there are multiple paths to happiness.

The authors write:

“…the personality–well-being relation varies appreciably across personality aspects and distinct dimensions of well-being.

Not all aspects of extraversion and neuroticism are equally predictive, and aspects of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness/intellect also have idiosyncratic, meaningful associations with distinct forms of positive functioning.”

In other words, it’s possible to be a happy, neurotic, introvert.

It’s just a kind of happiness reached via a different route.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Sun et al., 2018).

This Personality Trait Boosts Happiness

Acting out this personality trait makes people feel happier.

Acting out this personality trait makes people feel happier.

Acting like an extravert makes people feel happier — even natural introverts, research finds.

Both extraverts and introverts report greater well-being after a week spent being more talkative, assertive and spontaneous.

It is the first study to report the benefits of acting like an extravert over such an extended period.

The study also demonstrates that people who are naturally introverted can enjoy this exercise as much as extraverts.

‘Faux’ extraverts (people who are really introverts) reported no problems acting as extraverts.

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, the study’s first author, said:

“The findings suggest that changing one’s social behavior is a realizable goal for many people, and that behaving in an extraverted way improves well-being.”

For the study, 123 people were asked to act like extraverts for one week and introverts for another week.

During the extravert week, participants were told to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous.

During the introvert week, they were told to be more deliberate, quiet and reserved.

People were informed that acting like an introvert and like an extravert is beneficial.

This was to try and dampen the effects of participants’ expectations.

The results showed that people felt better after a week acting as an extravert and worse after the week as an introvert.

The positive effect on well-being is the largest known among happiness interventions.

Surprisingly, acting like an extravert seems to cause people’s personality to shift in that direction.

Professor Lyubomirsky said:

“It showed that a manipulation to increase extraverted behavior substantially improved well-being.

Manipulating personality-relevant behavior over as long as a week may be easier than previously thought, and the effects can be surprisingly powerful.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (Margolis & Lyubomirsky, 2019).

2 Personality Traits That Predict Happiness

Two personality traits that lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

Two personality traits that lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

Young adults who are more outgoing go on to lead happier lives, research finds.

Being more emotional stable also predicts happiness in later life, psychologists discovered.

The study looked at data from 2,529 people born in 1946.

They first answered a series of questions about their personalities at 16 and 26-years-of age.

Forty years later, in their early sixties, they were asked about their well-being and satisfaction with life.

Dr Catharine Gale, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“We found that extroversion in youth had direct, positive effects on wellbeing and life satisfaction in later life.

Neuroticism, in contrast, had a negative impact, largely because it tends to make people more susceptible to feelings of anxiety and depression and to physical health problems.”

High extroversion is linked to being more sociable, having more energy and preferring to stay active.

High neuroticism is linked to being distractible, moody and having low emotional stability.

Increased extroversion was directly linked to more happiness.

Greater neuroticism, meanwhile, was linked to less happiness via a susceptibility to psychological distress.

Dr Gale said:

“Understanding what determines how happy people feel in later life is of particular interest because there is good evidence that happier people tend to live longer.

In this study we found that levels of neuroticism and extroversion measured over 40 years earlier were strongly predictive of well-being and life satisfaction in older men and women.

Personality in youth appears to have an enduring influence on happiness decades later.”

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Gale et al., 2013).

7 Psychology Studies On How Nature Heals The Mind

From the mental health benefits of gardening to the healing power of birdsong — explore the psychology of nature.

From the mental health benefits of gardening to the healing power of birdsong — explore the psychology of nature.

People are spending less and less time enjoying the outdoors and nature with every passing year.

The recent shift away from nature has been incredible: some studies estimate people now spend 25 percent less time in nature than they did 20 years ago (Pergams & Zaradic, 2007).

Instead, recreational time is often spent online, playing video games and watching movies.

The psychological literature clearly reveals how beneficial the experience of nature is to our minds.

In nature people feel more alive, creative, in sync and less stressed.

Here are 7 psychology studies from the members-only section of PsyBlog exploring the psychology of nature.

(If you are not already, find out how to become a PsyBlog member here.)

  1. The Great Disconnect: How Humans Are Losing Touch With Nature
  2. The Reason Being In Nature Feels So Good
  3. How Nature Heals The Brain Of Stress
  4. The Mental Health Benefits Of Gardening
  5. How Nature Can Lower Your Risk Of Dementia
  6. Spend This Long In Nature To Feel Fantastic
  7. The Beautiful Sound That Reduces Anxiety, Paranoia And Depression

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The Type Of Hobbies That Make You Happier

For the study, 582 people described strategies for improving their well-being.

For the study, 582 people described strategies for improving their well-being.

People who take up hobbies or interests that involve other people are happier one year later, research finds.

In comparison to those using non-social strategies, the socially focused were more satisfied with life.

Ms Julia Rohrer, the study’s first author, said:

“Our research showed that people who came up with ‘well-being’ strategies that involved other people were more satisfied with their lives one year later — even after taking into account that they were marginally happier to begin with.

In contrast, people who came up with strategies that did not explicitly involve others remained, on average, as satisfied as they were.”

For the study, 582 people described strategies for improving their well-being.

Some suggested non-social things like giving up smoking.

Others chose social things like spending more time with their family and friends or helping others.

The life satisfaction of those choosing nonsocial things remained the same one year later, while those who chose social things saw improvements in life satisfaction.

Ms Rohrer said:

“Many people are interested in becoming happier, but there is a lack of evidence regarding the long term effects of pursuing happiness through various types of activities.

After all, there’s no guarantee that trying to become happier doesn’t make you more miserable in the end.

I think our study partly fills that gap in the literature, although more research with a longitudinal perspective is certainly needed.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Rohrer et al., 2018).

Does Personality Solely Determine Your Happiness? (M)

Unlike personality, circumstances are more amenable to change because they include the things that one does each day.

Unlike personality, circumstances are more amenable to change because they include the things that one does each day.

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How To Feel Happier In Only Two Minutes A Day

Both happiness and general well-being were boosted in the study of 395 people.

Both happiness and general well-being were boosted in the study of 395 people.

Taking a few moments to stop and look at something in the natural environment is enough to make people happier, research finds.

Literally, ‘stopping and smelling the roses’, or in this case noticing anything in the natural world really does work.

Both happiness and well-being were boosted by noticing things like a bird, a house plant, a dandelion in the sidewalk, or just the sun shining through the window.

In the research, people took a photo of what they had noticed and quickly jotted down how they felt.

Ms Holli-Anne Passmore, the study’s first author, said:

“This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness.

This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”

The study split 395 people into three groups.

One group were told to noticed natural objects, while another were asked to observe man-made objects.

Both were also compared with a control group who did neither.

Together they submitted 2,500 photos, along with descriptions of their emotions at that moment.

The group who photographed and wrote a note about the natural environment had the highest well-being, the results showed.

Ms Passmore said:

“The difference in participants’ well-being — their happiness, sense of elevation, and their level of connectedness to other people, not just nature — was significantly higher than participants in the group noticing how human-built objects made them feel and the control group.”

People who noticed nature also felt more connected to it and to other people in general.

They also reported feeling more prosocial: in other words, they felt like helping other people out and placed a greater value on the community.

The study was published in The Journal of Positive Psychology (Passmore & Holder, 2016).

The Universal Feeling In All Human Communication Revealed by Massive Study (M)

Billions of words analysed in 10 world languages and this mood keeps shining through.

Billions of words analysed in 10 world languages and this mood keeps shining through.

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