Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Hack Your Way To Happiness

Seven ways to spark joy in your life – according to science.

By Jessica Jurkschat
20 June 2024

Most of us want to find true happiness in life. But what is happiness? It can be as easy or as complex as we choose to make it – but simply put – it’s whatever brings you joy, contentment and satisfaction in your day-to-day life. Finding happiness however, isn’t so straightforward. 

But according to a study by the University of Bristol, science can help us hack our way to happiness. Here are the seven ways:

Increasing social connections, including initiating conversations with strangers

Humans are not meant to be on their own. Increasing social connections helps to provide emotional support, foster a sense of belonging, and reduce feelings of loneliness. These social connections also offer opportunities for shared experiences, which can lead to positive emotions and memories. 

Performing acts of kindness

Science has shown that performing acts of kindness boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which causes us to feel an increased sense of satisfaction and well-being. These benefits can also be felt by witnessing acts of kindness or being on the receiving end of acts of kindness.

Savouring experiences

 Living in the moment has been proven to enhance your enjoyment and emotional connection to the experience. By deliberately savouring experiences, you’re also tricking your brain to encode your memory more vividly, providing a bank of positive recollections to draw from in the future. 

Deliberately drawing attention to the positive events and aspects of the day

Regularly focusing on positive experiences can help build emotional resilience, making it easier to cope with challenges and setbacks by maintaining a positive frame of mind. As you make a habit of recognising and appreciating positive events, you become more attuned to seeking out and noticing additional positive experiences – creating a cycle of ongoing positivity.

Being physically active

Practising feeling grateful, and endeavouring to thank people

 It’s easy to take things or people, for granted. When you consciously acknowledge and appreciate the positive aspects of your life, you become more aware of their value and significance. Practicing gratitude helps cultivate a more positive and appreciative outlook on life, which not only enhances your emotional well-being but can also help to enrich your relationships.

From releasing endorphins and reducing stress and anxiety to better sleep and increased energy, there’s an endless number of physiological, psychological and social benefits to being physically active. 

Exploring mindfulness and other meditation techniques

Practicing mindfulness and meditation on a daily basis can lead to profound improvements in mental and emotional well-being, including enhanced ability to regulate emotions, greater self-awareness and more empathy and compassion, both for yourself and others.

The 228 students who were questioned for The Science of Happiness programme reported a 10-15% improvement in their wellbeing immediately after taking the “positive psychology” course. Additionally, researchers also found that more than half of those who continued to practise the activities they had been taught maintained their positive outlook one to two years afterwards.

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