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7 Essential Keys to Feeling Happier Everyday

Happiness is often elusive, despite our best efforts to find it. But, as it turns out, happiness is not an unattainable goal.

Recent studies have shed light on the keys to happiness, and they do not involve any magic tricks.

According to Professor Tal Ben-Sharpar from Harvard, the secret to a happy life is accepting it as it is, and this will free you from the fear of failure and perfect expectations.

Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, director at the Center for Happy Minds at the University of Wisconson-Madison, also states that "happiness and well-being are skills that can be learned and trained."

So, what does science say are the keys to happiness?

There are 4 main chemicals in the brain that influence our feelings of happiness…

And each plays a different role in how we experience happiness. 

Dopamine is what we feel when we enjoy striving for a goal. 

Oxytocin is what we feel when we are being social.

Serotonin is what we feel when we are in a good mood. Interestingly up to 90% of Serotonin is produced in the gut, and is heavily influenced by what we feed ourselves. 

Endorphins are associated with the fight or flight response, and are what helps push you through challenging periods in life, or with fighting towards difficult goals.

Here are 7 keys to feeling happier in life everyday... 

By feeling happier on a daily basis, you’ll in turn find that your productivity will improve AND you’ll achieve more of what you want in your life...

1. Stop looking for happiness and start living it

Instead of constantly searching for happiness, try living it.

According to Professor Ben-Shapar, expecting to always be happy can lead to unhappiness.

Studies, such as one by Jane Gruber, have shown that the pursuit of happiness can actually make us feel more dissatisfied with our lives. Happiness is not a singular action, but rather a result of many actions working together.

To truly make a difference, focus on making lifestyle changes, such as learning to relax and being kind to yourself.

As Gandhi said, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Don't waste time worrying about others' opinions and live the life you truly want.

Bonnie Ware's palliative care patients have shown, the biggest regret at the end of one's life is not living the life they truly wanted. Be brave and live authentically.

2. Live in the "now" and be happy

Staying present and engaged in the current moment is crucial for happiness, but it can be difficult to achieve.

According to a study by Killingsworth & Gilbert, people spend over 47% of their time distracted and disengaged, leading to unhappiness.

Even more striking, the study revealed that a group of teenagers would rather receive electric shocks than to sit idly, highlighting the importance of being present.

Dr. Davidson's recent studies have found that practicing mindfulness can decrease activity in brain regions associated with distraction and inactivity, helping individuals focus on the present. This suggests that meditation can be an effective tool in the pursuit of living in the present and reducing worry about the future.

3. Learn to be grateful to be happy

Expressing gratitude, or being thankful for what one has, is a crucial aspect of happiness.

Being grateful means accepting one's life as it is and embracing the present moment.

Show appreciation for loved ones, nature, and the small things in life.

Research, such as the study conducted by Professor Toepfer from Kent State University, has shown that gratitude can improve emotional well-being and happiness.

Simple acts like writing a thank-you note can have a lasting impact on one's happiness in the long run.

4. Exercise to be happy

Exercise is widely recognized as an essential component of overall health and well-being.

The benefits of physical activity on both physical and mental health are numerous.

When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, natural chemicals that reduce pain and improve mood.

In a study of patients with depression, researchers found that those who substituted medication with exercise not only showed improvement in their condition, but also had fewer relapses in the future.

Regular exercise, such as a 30-minute walk daily, can improve both physical and mental health. It's not necessary to run marathons or do Crossfit, just getting out and moving is beneficial.

5. Help others to be generous to be happy

If you want happiness for an hour- take a nap.

If you want happiness for a day- go fishing.

If you want happiness for a month- get married.

If you want happiness for a year- inherit a fortune.

If you want happiness for a lifetime-help others.

-Chinese proverb

For centuries, people have understood that happiness is often found in the happiness of others.

While temporary pleasures may bring temporary happiness, making a positive impact on others and helping them can lead to long-lasting happiness.

Research has shown that volunteering can increase feelings of happiness and well-being.

Additionally, having strong social relationships is a key indicator of happiness.

Studies on individuals living in social isolation have even shown that this can activate the same areas of the brain as physical pain.

To improve social connections, focusing on altruistic and compassionate behaviors, such as empathy and understanding, can be effective.

Pro-social behavior, or being kind to others, increases being accepted within a group. In other words, the nicer we are to our friends, the more we’ll like each other and the more likely we will be good friends.

Altruism, or being generous with others, also considerably increases our perception of happiness according to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, where participants who spent money on other people felt happier than those who did not.

Altruism and pro-social behaviors aren’t only associated to happiness and well-being, but also to a healthier and longer life. We’ve seen this happen not only happen in children and adults of a certain society, but cross-culturally and universally.

So, you can see why one of the keys to happiness is to heed Ellen DeGeneres’ advice and be kind to one another.

6. Smile or laugh out loud to be happy

Laughter is a powerful tool for improving our overall well-being. It is known to increase feelings of happiness, reduce stress and tension, and even boost the immune system.

Laughter can also bring people together, creating a sense of camaraderie and bonding. Studies have shown that laughing with friends or loved ones can release endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that make us feel good.

One study found that people who were genuinely laughing had an improvement in their mood, while those who were forced to laugh had a decrease in mood. This suggests that the benefits of laughter are not just psychological, but also physiological. When we laugh, it triggers a cascade of positive changes in the body, such as increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins, which can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

However, it is important to note that the benefits of laughter are only gained when it is genuine. Faking laughter can have the opposite effect, as it can make people feel self-conscious and further decrease their mood.

So, to reap the benefits of laughter, it is important to think about things that make you happy and bring a genuine smile to your face. Whether it's memories of a holiday on a deserted island, thoughts of a child or loved one, or something funny that happened to you, focusing on these positive thoughts can help to bring on a genuine laugh.

7. Surround yourself with positive people

It is said that beauty cannot be caught, but the same cannot be said for happiness.

When surrounded by happy, positive people, their positive energy can be contagious.

On the other hand, negative people can drain energy and leave one feeling exhausted and angry. Science backs this up, as shown in a study by the Framingham Heart Study, where it was found that a person's happiness is heavily influenced by the happiness of those around them.

To maintain a positive outlook, it is important to steer clear of toxic people and surround oneself with a network of happy, supportive individuals.

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