Posted by
Eric Barker in his “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” blog

1) Thank
First thing in the morning, send an email thanking or praising someone. Research shows this can brighten your day.

 2) Spend money — on someone else
Harvard professor Michael Norton,
author of 
Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, explains how spending money on other people can generate
more happiness than spending on yourself.

3) Give 5 hugs
People assigned to give or receive
hugs 5 times a day ended up happier than the control group. 
From Sonja Lyubomirsky’s very
interesting book, 
The How of Happiness

In a one-of-a-kind study, students
at Pennsylvania State University were assigned to two groups. The first group
was instructed to give or receive a minimum of five hugs per day over the
course of four weeks and to record the
The hugs had to be front-to-front (nonsexual) hugs, using both arms of both
participants; however, the length and strength of hug, as well as the placement
of hands, were left to their discretion. Furthermore, these students couldn’t
simply hug their boyfriends or girlfriends half a dozen times; they had to aim
to hug as many different individuals as possible. The second, the controls, was
instructed simply to record the number of hours they read each day over the
same four weeks.

The hugging group (which partook in
an average of forty-nine hugs over the course of the study) became much
Not surprisingly, the students who
merely recorded their reading activity (which averaged a not-too-shabby 1.6
hours per day) showed no changes.

4) Do stuff you’re good at
People who deliberately exercised
their signature strengths on a daily basis — those qualities they were uniquely
best at, the talents that set them apart from others –  became
significantly happier for months.

When 577 volunteers were encouraged
to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a
week, they became significantly happier and less
depressed than control groups. And these benefits lasted: Even after
the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full
month later. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths
in daily life, the happier you become.

This has been shown repeatedly in
research studies.

5) Do 5 little nice things for

…individuals told to complete five
acts of kindness over the course of a day report feeling much happier than
control groups and that the feeling lasts for many subsequent days, far after
the exercise is over.
 To try this yourself, pick one
day a week and make a point of committing five acts of kindness. But if you
want to reap the psychological benefit, make sure you do these things
deliberately and consciously—you can’t just look back over the last 24 hours
and declare your acts post hoc.

6) Create something to look forward
“One study found that people who
just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their
endorphin levels by 27 percent. Often, the most enjoyable part of an activity
is the anticipation. If you can’t take the time for a vacation right
now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if
it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of
happiness, remind yourself about it.”

7) Spend time with friends 
Having a better social life is
the happiness equivalent of
making an extra $131,232 a year:
There is substantial evidence in the
psychology and sociology literature that social relationships promote happiness
for the individual. Yet the size of their impacts remains largely unknown. This
paper explores the use of shadow pricing method to estimate the monetary values
of the satisfaction with life gained by an increase in the frequency of
interaction with friends, relatives, and neighbours. Using the British
Household Panel
Survey, I
find that an increase in the level of social involvements is worth up to an
extra £85,000 a year in terms of life satisfaction. Actual changes in income,
on the other hand, buy very little happiness.

8) Before bed, write down three good
things that happened today
This technique has been proven again and again and again.
Here it is, explained by its originator, University of Pennsylvania professor
Martin Seligman in the book
 Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of
Happiness and Well-being

Every night for the next week, set
aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went
well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to
write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of
what you wrote.
The three things need not be
earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for
dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My
sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”)

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