You’ve heard it countless times…
“Just be happy.”
That’s the secret to a fulfilling life full of sunshine and rainbows. Cheer up, put a smile on, and be grateful for everything you’ve got.
Happiness is a choice — so what the heck are you waiting for?
It’s never been quite that easy.
Emotions take over.
Bad days stack on top of each other
You try to “fake it ’til you make it,” but it’s only a facade at best.
Like a stone on water, you skip from one happy moment to the next until you finally sink down into your negative emotions again.
It’s a bitter cycle you’re longing to break — but life has a funny way of keeping us in repetitive loops, doesn’t it?
Sometimes being happy just isn’t as easy as people make it out to be. What’s the problem with that?
The problem is that it’s false… and I’m about to reveal five science-backed happiness hacks to prove it.
Do ANY of these over the next two weeks and you WILL feel happier.
Heck, you might even feel happier by the end of the day.
That’s not a promise — it’s science.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
1) Put on your boots and get steppin’
Now, you might be laughing at the notion you can walk your way to happiness — but check this out.
In a study done by researchers at Penn State, they found that physical activity increased positive emotions. Mainly, excitement and enthusiasm.
Researcher Amanda Hynes reports:
“People who were more physically active overall had higher pleasant-activated feelings than people who were less physically active, and on days when people were more physically active than was typical for them, they reported higher levels of pleasant-activated feelings.”
And it doesn’t end there.
Another study published by the American Psychosomatic Society uncovered something even more powerful.
It demonstrated how walking or jogging helped improve patient recovery from clinical depression. Yes, clinical depression.
And it didn’t take much.
Half an hour of brisk walking three times per week is all they needed to see dramatic improvements. Which means you could likely see an improvement doing the same.
Easy enough, right?
Take three, brisk 30-minute walks each week for the next two weeks.
I’m not saying this will be a “cure-all” — but if you actually commit to the process, I have a feeling you’ll notice a lot more pep in your step by the end of it.
Plus, come on, walking. It’s not like it’s going to hurt you.
Now put on your boots and get steppin’.
It doesn’t get much easier than that.
2) Grab your favorite pen and let it all out
And I don’t mean journaling.
What I’m talking about here is a 20-minute exercise where you write about a positive experience in your life.
It could be about your friends, your family, a loved one. Or it could be about something that filled you with excitement and joy.
Either way, it’s about reliving the good that’s happened to you.
In a study titled “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Words,” Psychology Professor James Pennebaker and graduate student Richard Slatcher analyzed writing samples from 86 couples.
They split the couples in two groups, and then instructed one person from each couple to write 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. One group wrote about their daily activities. The other wrote about positive feelings or experiences associated with their relationship.
Can you guess what happened?
The group who wrote about their relationship exceeded expectations. Not only were they more likely to stay together, but they also felt happier, more loved, and more fulfilled.
Both researchers believe this can extend beyond romantic relationships, as well. As Pennebaker notes:
“That people may enhance their romantic relationships by simply writing down their thoughts and feelings about those relationships has clear implications. The use of expressive writing as a tool for relationship enhancement could be applied to those in families, circles of friends and even work groups.”
Why does this work?
Think about it. Writing about positive feelings or experiences helps you relive those feelings and experiences. Your brain literally sends you back to those moments and the emotions associated with them.
It’s like happiness time-travel — and you can do it whenever you want.
Write about a positive experience in your life 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. Take a day off, rinse and repeat.
If you do this for two consecutive weeks, I’m confident you’ll tap into an inner well of happiness you didn’t even know was there.
Happy writing ← see what I did there 😉
3) Get out there and spread some love
Who woulda thunk doing something nice for someone else could make you feel better?
And yes, I’m being sarcastic…
You already know doing nice things for others makes you feel good.
But did you know there’s actually proof to back it up?
Enter Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, and author of The How of Happiness.
In a 2005 study, she instructed participants to perform five acts of kindness per week for six weeks. One group carried out the five acts in a single day. Another performed them throughout the week, and another served as the control.
What did she find?
The group who carried out the five acts in a single day experienced a significant increase in well-being compared to the other two groups.
Why did the first group feel so happy?
Well — they felt good about themselves! And they felt a growing sense of appreciation with each new act of kindness they performed.
Professor Martin Seligman, the “father of positive psychology,” takes this further by saying:
“We scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
Talk about powerful stuff!
Do as Seligman suggests and perform an act of kindness as soon as you can. Then pause for a moment and reflect on how you feel.
Take this a step further by performing five acts of kindness in a single day, once a week for the next two weeks.
If you commit to the task, I have no doubt you’ll experience a significant boost in your sense of well-being.
Now get out there and spread some love — you deserve it!
4) Sit down, shut up, and become one with the Universe
The popularity of meditation is undeniable right now.
And rightfully so.
It’s becoming more and more mainstream as people discover its benefits.
You may have heard that meditation can:
- Reduce stress
- Control anxiety
- Promote emotional health
- Enhance self-awareness
- Improve memory
- Fight addiction
- And a ho’ lot mo’
But are you aware that meditation can actually change your brain?
A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital observed exactly that.
They studied brain scans of people before and after a course on mindfulness meditation. And what they found was quite remarkable…
The brains they studied actually grew in areas associated with compassion and self-awareness — and shrank in areas associated with stress!
And it doesn’t take much time to enjoy the benefits meditation has to offer.
It’s suggested that 5–10 minutes per day is optimal to begin witnessing an increased sense of well-being. But something as little as two minutes per day is perfect to get started. You can increase your time as you get more comfortable with the practice.
Meditate two minutes per day for the next two weeks.
You can find thousands of resources online to help you get started.
Or (with a dash of shameless self-promotion) you can also check out my Meditation FAQs articles here and here. They answer the most common questions that pop up when someone starts a new meditation practice.
That should get you on the right path.
Then, if you’re up for it, meditate a little longer and see how you feel.
If you keep up with the practice — and get through all the chaotic monkey-mind business you’ll likely experience at first — I’m confident it’ll have a remarkable impact on your life.
I know it has with mine.
Now sit down, shut up, and become one with the Universe.
5) Revive your heart with love and joy
Would you agree that being happy with simple things makes it simple to be happy?
Researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough seem to think so.
In a study they performed in 2003, they asked three groups of students to write down one of three things. Five gratitudes, five hassles, or five events that occurred during the past week.
Can you guess what they found?
The group who wrote down five gratitudes were much more optimistic than the other two groups. They felt better about their lives and (surprisingly) were even physically healthier.
Other benefits reported included higher levels of enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. They also had a much higher likelihood of making progress toward important personal goals.
All from something as simple as reflecting on the beauty of a sunset.
And it makes perfect sense…
When you reflect on the good in your life, you focus your attention on things that fill your heart with love and joy. Heck, even thinking about a puppy can take you to a warm and loving place.
There’s SO much to be grateful for. And the more you practice, the more you’ll find blessings in each and every moment that passes.
At the end of each week for the next two weeks, write down five things you’re grateful for.
It could be about the love you have for your family or your excitement about connecting with an old friend. Whatever it is, just be sure to tap into feelings of love and joy as you reflect on them.
When you’re done, take another moment to sit back and analyze how you feel. Notice the warmth that hugs your heart and makes you happy to be alive.
That feeling right there is the gift of gratitude — and you can give that gift to yourself anytime you want.
It’s not a promise — it’s science!
The battle to be happy doesn’t always seem like an easy one.
We’ve all been there.
You’re up one moment and the next you’re down…. your efforts get thwarted at every turn… new challenges, obstacles, and problems present themselves daily… you hang on tight to anything good afraid you’ll lose it all forever.
But, like I’ve outlined in this article, it doesn’t have to be that way.
You really can make yourself happier, even when you’re feeling down and defeated.
All you have to do is apply a little effort.
So pick any of these methods and practice them over the next two weeks. If you do, I’m confident you’ll begin to see that happiness isn’t as elusive as you once thought it could be.
The rest is up to you. Which one will you try first?