8 simple habits that will make you happy, according to neuroscientists

If you’re like most people, you’re probably on a quest to find more happiness in your life.

Whether it’s through work, relationships, or personal growth, the desire to feel happier is something we all share.

But did you know that there are specific habits you can adopt that neuroscientists have found to boost happiness?

That’s right!

Science has shown that by making a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can significantly improve your overall well-being and joy.

In this article, I’m going to share ten easy-to-implement habits backed by neuroscience that can help you lead a happier life.

These habits are simple, practical, and best of all, they work.

Let’s dive in.

1. Practice Gratitude

One of the easiest ways to feel happier is by practicing gratitude. This means taking a moment to think about the things you’re thankful for. It could be anything – your family, your health, even a sunny day.

Research shows that gratitude can boost your mood.

A study by Dr. Robert Emmons at the University of California found that people who wrote down things they were thankful for every week felt happier and more optimistic.

Dr. Emmons says, “Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance. It strengthens relationships, improves health, and reduces stress.”

So, why not try it? Each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. It’s a simple habit that can make a big difference in how you feel.

2. Get Moving

Exercise is not just good for your body; it’s great for your mind too. When you get moving, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, which make you feel good.

Dr. John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, says, “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.”

You don’t need to run a marathon. Even a short walk or a quick workout can make a big difference.

Aim to move your body every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You’ll feel happier and more energized.

3. Connect with Others

Spending time with friends and family can make you happier. Human connection is really important for our well-being.

When we connect with others, our brain releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps us feel good and reduces stress.

A study from Harvard, which followed people for 85 years, found that the happiest and healthiest people were those who had strong relationships.

Dr. Robert Waldinger, the study’s director, says, “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Make time to connect with the people who matter to you. Call a friend, visit a family member, or simply spend quality time with someone you care about. It’s a simple habit that can make a big difference in your happiness.

4. Sleep Well

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for happiness. When you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to feel stressed and irritable. Good sleep, on the other hand, improves your mood and overall mental health.

Dr. Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and author of Why We Sleep, says, “Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.”

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading a book or listening to calming music, to help you wind down. By prioritizing good sleep, you’ll feel happier and more refreshed each day.

5. Meditate

Meditation is a powerful tool for boosting happiness. It helps calm your mind, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.

When you meditate, your brain produces more of the chemicals that make you feel good, like serotonin and endorphins.

A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that meditation can improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain.

Dr. Madhav Goyal, who led the study, says, “Meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.”

You don’t need to meditate for hours. Even a few minutes each day can make a big difference. Find a quiet spot, sit comfortably, and focus on your breathing. With regular practice, you’ll notice yourself feeling calmer and happier.

6. Spend Time in Nature

Spending time in nature is a simple way to boost your happiness. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and can help reduce stress. When you’re outdoors, your brain releases serotonin, which makes you feel good.

A study by researchers at Stanford University found that people who walked in nature for 90 minutes had lower levels of activity in the brain region linked to depression compared to those who walked in an urban setting.

Dr. Gregory Bratman, the lead author of the study, says, “Nature experience has been shown to improve mood and aspects of cognitive function.”

You don’t need to go on a long hike. Even a short walk in the park or spending some time in your garden can help. Make it a habit to get outside every day and enjoy the benefits of nature for your happiness.

7. Help Others

Helping others is a wonderful way to boost your own happiness. When you do something kind for someone else, it triggers the release of endorphins in your brain, creating a feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

A study conducted by the London School of Economics found that people who frequently volunteered reported being happier than those who didn’t. The researchers found that the more people volunteered, the happier they felt.

Dr. Stephen G. Post, a researcher in this field, says, “Helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a ‘helper’s high,’ and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking.”

You don’t need to make grand gestures. Small acts of kindness, like helping a neighbor, volunteering your time, or simply offering a kind word, can make a big difference in your happiness and the happiness of others.

8. Learn Something New

Keeping your brain engaged by learning new things can make you happier. When you learn something new, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical that helps you feel more motivated and satisfied.

A study published in Psychological Science found that engaging in activities that challenge your brain, like learning a new skill, can improve your happiness and overall mental well-being. Dr.

Rachel Wu, a cognitive scientist, says, “Learning new skills throughout adulthood can significantly boost cognitive health and psychological well-being.”

You don’t need to take on something huge. Try picking up a new hobby, learning a few phrases in a different language, or taking a short online course on a topic that interests you. By continuously learning, you’ll keep your mind sharp and your spirits high.

Conclusion

Incorporating these eight simple habits into your daily life can make a big difference in your happiness.

Remember, it’s the small, consistent changes that have the most significant impact. Start today and take the first step towards a happier, more fulfilling life. 

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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