With the ever-advancing world we live in, there are so many things at our disposal to encourage and promote happiness, but it still seems an elusive thought that escapes the grasp of many. An increasing number of books and blogs are devoted to hacking happiness and a positive psychology, a whole new field of research, developed to answer the question: “Why aren’t people happy?”
In response to all this talk about happiness, a multitude of apps, programs, and websites have cropped up to teach scientifically-valid techniques that increase the hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. They usually focus on things we already understand like exercise, a good night’s sleep, eating right, and distressing. But it is difficult for people who struggle with these things to commit to using an app that reminds them to do the thing they don’t want to (or can’t) do.
There are incremental changes you can make to help you hack your mind and convince it to do the more essential things listed above. Follow this advice to hacking happiness:
Say positive things to others
Here’s the great thing about this hack. It doesn’t even have to be face to face. So, you’re exhausted and overcome with negative feelings and you’re mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Stop mindlessly scrolling and start mind hacking. Post congrats to the friend who got a new job. Tell someone who has a negative post how awesome she is. Go through the posts one by one, slowly, and put heartful positive comments on their stories. This type of positivity affects your mind too. Plus, it will promote connections through engagement, and connecting with people is key to happiness.
Put down your phone and pick up a hobby
A recent study showed that constant phone usage is directly tied to anxiety and lower levels of happiness. By putting your phone down, you are allowing your brain to relax and consider alternatives for entertainment. So, you can pick up one of your hobbies to add joy to your life. Think about hobbies that you always wanted to pursue or ones that you’ve stopped because of a hectic life. Set aside 30 minutes at least every other day to practice—you may soon find that you want to do it even more. Share your accomplishments online or in person with friends and family for a boost of self-confidence.
Volunteer or do nice things
Mountains of research have shown that altruism is a massive motivator of happiness. It even shows that doing nice things can lengthen lifespan. It doesn’t have to be anything significant to start, though you may find you want to continue and expand once you get into it. Buy someone’s coffee, bring your mother flowers, or volunteer for a few hours at a kitchen for the homeless. Any of these things can give you a boost.
A study out of Kyoto University showed that happiness can be worked as a muscle. The precuneus area of the brain had the more gray matter in people who were happier in this study. Gray matter in the precuneus can get a boost from regular meditation. Consistent meditation can rewire your brain (hack your mind!) to be more optimistic and positive. Increased optimism leads to greater happiness.
Go for a walk
One of the best things you can do for your health, physical or mental, is going for a walk. It’s best if you can get out in nature where you will feel connected and engaged with the beauty around you. But even if you live in a concrete jungle, a daily walk will help you get healthier and provide you with the exercise you need to increase happiness. It’s important you make this a daily practice though. Studies have shown that making healthy habits and keeping them is key to developing gray matter in the precuneus, just like any muscle, it requires regular training to work.
Hacking happiness requires a dedication to repeated behavior modification that can improve your life. Small, incremental changes can lead to significant breakthroughs in mental cheerfulness and can make you feel more joyful each day.
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