Life is full of ups and downs.
But have you looked at someone else who always seem to be in a good mood and wondered just how the heck they do it?
Happiness is not something you get. It’s something you choose.
And if you’ve ever struggled with depression, sadness or feeling down — especially on a regular basis — that choice can sometimes seem impossible to make.
Here’s the thing: The effects of profound happiness aren’t just for our general demeanor.
Happiness is not just the end result. It’s also the driver to make good decisions — decisions that affect everything from how we interact with others, how we view ourselves and even losing weight.
So what are the habits of profoundly happy people? Take a look below.
1) They get a good night’s rest.
When you’re tired, you’re inherently crankier. You are quicker to react to other people’s negativity, which in turn brings your own level of happiness down.
A study published in Research Digest found that people who take a nap in the afternoon were less likely to react to anger and fear.
Another study from Ohio State University found that people who walked into work well-rested with a positive attitude were more likely to be productive and interact with customers and coworkers better.
2) They exercise 4-5 times a week.
Fitness is so important for so many reasons, not the least of which is the effect it has on the way you feel about yourself.
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercise regularly have a more positive self body-image, whether they lost weight or not.
And a recent study from researchers at Yale and Oxford University found that exercise was even more impactful on happiness than financial well-being.
The even better news? It doesn’t have to consume a huge chunk of your day. Even exercising just 20 minutes a day results in significantly higher levels of happiness.
3) They get outside and enjoy nature.
Fresh air and sunlight — what could be better?
Researchers from the University of Sussex had people use an app to track their happiness levels at different points during the day. The results overwhelmingly showed that people were happiest on a warm sunny day, often by a body of water.
Even if there’s no lake or ocean near you, just taking a walk once a day or sitting outside and taking in nature can make a huge impact on your emotions.
4) They plan activities.
Think about a time in your life when you had a trip, event or outing coming up. How did you feel? Chances are, you were really looking forward to it.
Turns out, there’s something to that. A study published in Applied Research in the Quality of Life found that even just planning a vacation releases endorphins and improves mood levels.
From there, the anticipation ahead of the trip builds even higher levels of happiness. Total win-win.
5) They meditate at least once a day and stay in the moment.
You’ve probably heard a time or two that meditation improves clarity, focus and attention span. A significant byproduct of that is mindfulness — purposefully living in the moment and focusing all your attention on it.
A study in U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that people who practiced mindfulness “produce[d] positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders.”
Taking just 5-10 minutes a day to meditate can work wonders for improving your ability to be mindful.
6) They are grateful for what they have.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you have or have achieved in life? Few of us do, but making a list of everything you’ve got going for you can be a very healing experience.
There’s a study in The Journal of Happiness that showed people who wrote letters of gratitude, even if they didn’t send them, found more satisfaction than those who didn’t.
Another study found that people who jotted down the things they were happy about each day found a conscious focus on appreciation can lead to improved emotional benefits.
Turns out, there really is something to the age-old adage “Count your blessings.”
7) They do things for others.
There’s something supremely gratifying about doing something nice for someone else. That’s why so many people volunteer their time or donate their money to causes.
Another The Journal of Happiness study asked participants to recall a time in their lives when they felt happy buying something for someone else or buying something for themselves. Then, the participants were given money that they could choose to spend on themselves or another person. The ones who recalled buying something for someone else were not only happier, but were more likely to buy something for someone else with the monetary prize.
Volunteering, too, showed improved levels of happiness in a study from researchers in Germany.
8) They smile.
It seems simple enough, but how often do you go through life with a frown on your face?
Not only can smiling improve our cognition and make us more productive, but a study from researchers at Michigan State University found that coupling smiling with positive thoughts helps us withdraw less and improves our moods.
Plus, smiling at someone else typically elicits a smile in return, which in turn boosts our sense of belonging.
And when we belong, happiness is an easy result.
What makes you happiest? Share in the comments below!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.