What Makes People Happy

This is is part of my live-learning series! I will be updating this post as I continue through my journey. I apologize for any grammatical errors or incoherent thoughts. This is a practice to help me share things that are valuable without falling apart from the pressure of perfection. 

What makes us happy? We are all on the search for happiness. We know it’s not a plateau we just reach and stay at, but most of us would like to stay in a state of at least relative happiness as much as we can in our day-to-day lives. 

I’ve been working on this for many years because of my own struggles with finding and retaining happiness. 

How can we categorize things that makes us happy? Some things are social, others are genetic, others are things like exercise and taking care of our health. 

Keep A Gratitude Journal

I do a lot of journaling but I don’t always intentionally put gratitude into it. I see this point consistently throughout almost all articles and research. 

Get Good Sleep

Another one that is consistent and seems to have a bigger impact than we think. We often hear about the hustle culture and if you’re sleeping that you’re not staying competitive. That’s not true. In fact, some of the leaders today place emphasis on the importance of sleep. I also like the stories of successful individuals who were big fans of napping.

Go Outside

Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside. 

The American Meteorological Society published research in 2011 that found current temperature has a bigger effect on our happiness than variables like wind speed and humidity, or even the average temperature over the course of a day. It also found that happiness is maximized at 13.9°C, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before heading outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air.

Some more interesting insights on productivity, temperature and lighting from Buffer. 

Listen To Sad Music

Listening to sad music seems to be a common activity that’s been linked with increased happiness around the globe.

In a study that looked at 772 people on the eastern and western hemispheres, researchers found that listening to sad music generated “beneficial emotional effects such as regulating negative emotion and mood as well as consolation,” the researchers write in their paper.

Write Down Your Feelings

Researchers studied brain scans of volunteers who recorded an emotional experience for 20 minutes a day for 4 sessions. They then compared the brain scans with volunteers who wrote down a neutral experience for the same amount of time. The brain scans of the first group showed neural activity in a part of the brain responsible for dampening strong emotional feelings, suggesting that the act of recording their experience calmed them. This same neural activity was absent in the volunteers who recorded a neutral experience.

How Do We Express Happiness?

This is important too. If we can’t measure our happiness, it is hard to improve it. There are standardized questionnaires and manual inputs that you can do to track mood, but many find that tedious. Are there ways we can identify this in conversations, journals, and notes?

Some Good Resources

25 ways to feel happier in the next 5 minutes – Happier
The Science of Happiness: What Actually Makes Us Happy | by Max Weigand | Medium
10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happy
14 Things That Make You Happy And Enjoy Life More
Psychologists have linked 25 things to being happier and healthier – Business Insider
8 Better Words for “Happy” Plus 33 More Positive Emotion Adjectives & Idioms | Clark and Miller
ways of expressing happiness and pleasure – synonyms and related words | Macmillan Dictionary

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