How to Be Happier Everyday
and Live Longer in the Process
Scientists Discover How to Be Happier using
7 Proven Methods.
How to be happier, is the topic of many ‘happiness gurus‘ online. Most unhappy people say that they were once happy. There is certainly no doubt that being happy again is a much sought after quality these days.
So let me ask the question. Do you know how to be happy again?
Much of the advice given by life coaches and other gurus on this subject is very esoteric and focused on how you think. It is very much a matter of the mind and how you look at things.
But as you well know, it’s very hard for most of us to just ‘change the way we think‘.
Thinking happy thoughts just doesn’t magically make your feel happy again in most cases. So instead, let’s discuss some practical hands-on ways to be happier. I have 7 very different and very unique ways how to be happy that I explain in this article.
At first these will be fleeting moments of happiness, but they still represent real joy and not imitation happiness. And if you do them on a regular basis, you will start to form a habit of lasting happiness. Because, in the end, it is really all in you mind. But you can train the mind how to be happy again and, over time, happiness can become your default state of mind.
🎯 How To Be Happier Triggers
The secret of how to be happy again and again throughout your life is to insert ‘Happiness Triggers’ in your daily path. Happiness triggers are simply items, schedules or other ‘tripwires’ that automatically activate your personal happiness whenever you cross their path.
When you continually place these triggers in your path everyday, they will activate feelings of happiness as you continue to come into contact with them at various times of the day.
Let’s discuss the 7 physical triggers you can place in your everyday path to help you feel happier which, if you continue over time, will becomes life long habits of happily living your American Dream.
Is Your Smile Really Happy?
First I need to explain the term ‘Duchenne Smile’
A French neurologist by the name of Guillaume Duchenne identified two different types of smiles in humans.
Back in the mid-1800s, Duchenne, while conducting facial expression physiology, identified the difference between a fake smile and a real smile.
A non-Duchenne smile (fake smile) involves;
• Only the raising of the corners of the mouth or lips.
• Making a smile without facial contractions around the eye, can be viewed as a “fake smile”.
A Duchenne smile (genuine smile) involves two facial muscle actions;
• The corners of the lips are raised by flexing the muscles around the mouth
• The cheeks are also raised forming crow’s feet around the eyes by flexing the muscles around the eyes,
The Duchenne or ‘real smile’ in other studies has been associated with positive emotions.
The difference between the ‘fake‘ or ‘real‘ smiles can be seen in the eyes. During a Duchenne smile, the eyes reveal the emotion of happiness or joy that the person feels inside. Thus, the eyes really are the window into the soul. The mouth shows the smile, but the eyes show the happiness felt inside.
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #1
Fresh Flowers – The Happiness Quotient
Now that you know the difference between smiles, I want to introduce you to the first happiness trigger – flowers!
There was a study done in which 147 women were presented with a bouquet of roses, lilies and stock. Each time the flowers were presented, the 147 women responded with a Duchenne or genuine smile.
The women were genuinely affected in a positive way that induced a positive emotion reflected in their ‘real‘ or Duchenne smile.
The researchers tested the giving of fruit baskets, candles and sweet baskets, but nothing proved to gain a greater response than the flowers.
Of notable interest, the women who received the flowers (instead of the fruit baskets or candles) were also more likely to position the flowers in common areas of their home.
That’s how happy they were to be given flowers. They were so happy with the flowers that they wanted to share that happiness with others by placing them in a central commonly used area of the home.
Maybe the most important finding of the study was how to be happy over an extended period of time. The fact is that those ladies who received the basket of flowers maintained increased positive moods as long as 3 days later. That very telling of the power of flowers to induce lasting happiness.
None of the other gifts had this affect on the participants.
As you can well surmise, this means when you give flowers to someone it will not only give an extremely positive reaction of happiness immediately, but joyful and happy feelings will last for as much as three days.
In this study, flowers, upon presentation to women, ALWAYS elicited the Duchenne or true smile and that positive mood lasted 3 days.
NOTE: The researchers in this study were prepared to measure responses elicited according to whether or not the participant gave a true smile or not.
However, they were totally unprepared for the overwhelm of other positive responses they received.
The researchers received hugs and kisses and even beautiful “Thank you” cards and letters from several of the women who received flowers.
In some cases those cards and letters included photographs of the flowers.
In the many years of studying emotions, the researchers reported they had never received hugs and kisses, thank you notes or photographs, not even for candy, doughnuts, decorated shirts or hats, gift certificates, or direct monetary payment. The flowers are different.
Now you know how to be happy and how to help others be happy. Give flowers!
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #2
Flowers can make you happier, but plants, especially potted plants can add significantly to your well-being and your state of mind.
In 1980, a study was published where-in researchers carefully observed 90 patients recovering from appendectomies.
The results showed how to be happy with potted plants in patient recovery rooms. These patients experienced the following increased benefits when compared with their control group counterparts who did not have plants in their rooms;
- Fewer doses of pain medications
- More positive physiological responses
- Lower blood pressures
- Lower heart rates
- Less pain
- Less anxiety
- Less fatigue
- Better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms
Really? You get all that benefit from a potted plant? What an amazing benefit for 20 to 40 bucks!
If you really want to know how to be happier, add some potted plants to your personal space and get all these benefits. Lower heart rates, less medication, less pain and less anxiety not to mention lower blood pressure. These all sound like the symptoms of being happy to me.
The hospital staff also reported that the patients began to interact with their plants by watering them, moving them to better light and even pruning them.
How To Be Happy By Reducing Stress
Also, researchers in Texas, England and the State of Washington demonstrated that worker’s blood pressure and overall stress were reduced within 5 minutes of being visibly exposed to plants. Interior plants in the workplace, were shown to increase worker’s productivity by 12%. That will even make you boss happier!
Other studies have also demonstrated that maintaining plants inside a home or living quarters produces healthier air by removing airborne impurities such as mold and spores.
What Does It All Mean For Your Happiness?
As you can see, simply having fresh flowers in your home or work area can increase your happiness. Also, live potted plants can decrease your stress, freshen the air, increase your productivity and give you an overall higher state of satisfaction.
I am not saying that it will completely change your life, but I am saying it can contribute in a very noticeable way to your daily level of happiness.
With these positive benefits, why not strategically place flowers and plants in the path of your daily routine?
These become your ‘How To Be Happy’ triggers.
As you go about your daily routine, these flowers and plants trigger happiness all day long.
Try it and you’ll see that I’m right.
Set your life up so that you have self-activating triggers that generate feelings of happiness, satisfaction and well being automatically.
This consistent exposure to personal happiness everyday can make theses higher levels of happiness the norm instead of the exception, as you experience them each and every day.
You also gain a great deal of joy by giving plants or flowers to someone else. This kind of gesture makes that person happy, maybe even to the point of kisses and hugs, and that feeling can last for 3 days.
Clearly when someone responds in that way, you cannot walk away from another’s expression of joy and appreciation to you, without being a happier person yourself.
I remember one morning as I was hurrying off to get my day started. I walked out briskly to toss something in the mailbox and get in my car and leave.
Well, at least that was my intention!
As I walked down my driveway, I could smell the most wonderful combination of smells coming from the flowerbed in my front yard.
The sweet aroma came from the beautiful and very fragrant flowers my wife had planted just days earlier.
The fragrance was so inviting that I just stopped and deeply inhaled for several minutes.
As I walked away, my spirits were lifted, I had a song in my heart and I was much happier for the experience. I also felt a deeper appreciation for my wife.
There Is A Power In Flowers
Have you ever noticed how good you feel after slowly but deeply inhaling from a fresh rose. It’s called aromatherapy and there is a reason for that seeming surge of energy.
Roses have a vibrational frequency of 320 megahertz. That is a high-energy frequency and when you are in the presence of the rose you feel energized due to the high energy frequency coming from the rose.
The energy of the rose just makes you feel good.
One more thought.
As I researched how to be happy, I found a 1988 Yale University study that revealed that the fragrance of a rose produces a calming effect as measured by a decreased heart rate. So the next time you have the opportunity, treat yourself to a calm reinvigorating purposeful pause by breathing in deeply the fragrance of the rose.
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #3
A Real Big Smile
I know quite a few people who tell me they suffer from depression. So when I ran across this study, I got pretty excited that this technique might help them – if… they would do it.
How To Be Happy, Even If You Have Depression
In this study, researchers asked patients who were diagnosed with clinical depression to smile at themselves in a mirror for 20 minutes a day.
After four weeks, each of the participants reported that he or she was no longer depressed.
The only thing they did different was smile constantly for 20 minutes straight each day and they were no longer depressed.
Just the act of smiling releases serotonin in the brain, which tells your body to be happier.
Think of standing in front of a mirror and smiling for a whole 20 minutes. What if someone walked in as saw you smiling at…well, yourself.
The fact that this sounds so silly makes us smile inside and maybe even laugh a little. LOL!
So, even a manufactured smile in front of a mirror can lead to genuine happiness. Now do you understand how to be happy even when you’re depressed? Smile each day in the mirror for 20 minutes. It only take 28 days and depression will be gone. (according to the study)
Stop reading right now and go stand in front of a mirror, put on a little smile and notice a small gush of serotonin.
Now make it a big, ‘ear-to-ear’ smile that covers your entire face. Just thinking about it should raise your spirits and put a smile on your face. It does mine.
Even though you might feel a little silly doing so, persist and notice how you feel after 20 minutes. Do this for 20 minutes during the day and monitor your feelings.
Maybe placing a mirror on your desk at work will help you remember. By placing a mirror directly in you path each day, the mirror becomes the trigger to remember to smile at yourself each day for 20 minutes.
By the way, research Psychologist, Professor Diener, discovered that happy people actually live 7 to 8 years longer than others.
So not only do you know how to be happy, but as a happy person, odds are, you’ll live longer too!
Added Happy Benefits Of The Smile
Not only does being happy help you live longer, but those extra years are happier, more enjoyable years.
Every time you smile, whether it is real or manufactured, it causes you to be happy. How?
The change in your facial muscles and bones, from a smile, causes an increase in blood flow to the frontal lobes of the brain. This increases the release of dopamine to your brain.
Happily moving through your day with a smile on your face will chemically cause you to be happier.
Not only will you be happier, but because of your engaging, infectious, cheery smile, you just might trigger the release of dopamine in someone else’s brain when they see your smile.
Smiling not only releases dopamine, but endorphins and serotonin are also released which tend to relax your body, and can even lower blood pressure and heart rates.
Serotonin, when released, serves as a natural anti-depressant that can lift your mood. That’s how to be happy when you are depressed.
Basically you are using very high quality drugs each time you smile. But these drugs are completely legal, they are good for you and you never have any negative side effects.
The only side effect is happiness and that is actually good for you.
As a side note, endorphins are also released when you smile. They act as a safe and natural pain reliever. That’s why smiling never hurt anyone. 🙂
Smiling Makes You More Attractive
The Journal Neuropsychologia revealed in one study that looking at an attractive smiling face actuates sensations of pleasure in your orbitofrontal cortex. This indicates that seeing a smiling person makes you feel rewarded.
Another study found that both sexes were more attracted to people who smile and make eye contact. So there’s an added measure of attractiveness – making eye contact.
Conclusion? You’re better looking when you smile and make eye contact.
Affecting Others With Your Smile
Are you aware how contagious a smile is?
It’s true. It’s difficult to frown when someone is smiling at you. I have proven this many times. When I have put on a big genuine grin and looked someone in the eye, they begin to smile back automatically.
I was pleased to discover a Swedish study that proved my point. In this research, participants were shown photos of someone smiling at them and then asked to frown. It took the study volunteers a concerted effort to actually frown when seeing a picture of someone who was smiling.
People can’t help but smile when you smile at them.
Because you smiled and they smiled back, you both look better, feel better and will live longer. That’s the power of a simple smile.
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #4
The Payoff of Good Posture
Did you ever have one of those lazy Saturdays where you just laid around on the couch flipping channels while you watch TV? Now its early afternoon and you haven’t left the couch.
You feel too blasé and lethargic, too depressed, to even get up to eat anything?
I know. I have done that very thing and it made a miserable day for me. Had I got up that Saturday morning and exercised or done some yard work, I would have felt much better than just laying around on the couch.
Why did I feel so yucky and depressed when I was not sick and it should have been a wonderful day?
Well, a study conducted by researchers in New Zealand may have the very answer to that question.
How To Be Happy Through Proper Posture
In this study, 74 volunteers were randomly assigned either a slumped or an upright posture to use while seated in a chair. They were then asked to perform a speaking task.
Researchers then monitored self-esteem, moods, fear, emotions, sadness, blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, rate of speech and self-focus.
Those who were seated in the slouched position were found to exhibit more sadness, have more negative emotions with feelings of fear, hostility, and passivity.
Those are not happy thoughts or feelings!
However, the participants who were seated upright, feeling strong, enthusiastic, and excited maintained higher self-esteem, held a stronger pulse rate, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear, were more resistant to stress when compared to slumped participants.
Other studies have shown that good posture can also increase your air intake and oxygen levels by as much as 30 percent. This provides more oxygen to the brain and muscles, giving you more energy by simply having good posture.
Through good posture, you can experience how to be happier by feeling these better moods and mindsets.
In this way you can massively shift your psychology from feeling sad and weak to feeling happy, energetic and confident.
Good Standing Posture:
Stand in a position that aligns your ears, hips, and shoulders and feet.
Pull your shoulder back so that the chest is out.
Keep your knees slightly bent with your weight on the balls of your feet and not the heels.
Good Sitting Position
Sit with your weight evenly distributed between your hips with the legs uncrossed.
Position your knees so they are level with your hips (or slightly higher) with you feet flat on the floor.
Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms at a right angles. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor.
Good Lying Position
When sleeping, lie on your side with your knees bent using a pillow between knees for support.
Also, you can lie on your back with your knees bent with a pillow under your knees for support. (This is how I sleep every night.)
Don’t lie on your stomach – it encourages sway back. It is generally not advisable.
It seems like such a small thing but it does make a difference and this is just to remind you of something you already know.
Good posture becomes a happiness trigger by providing you with higher self-esteem, a stronger pulse rate and a better mood just by the way you sit, stand or sleep.
To feel great, get straight. It’s all about proper posture.
~ DISCLAIMER ~
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #5
Acquire Experiences Rather Than Things
Experiences vs. Things
Since happiness is a journey and not a destination, every decision we make along that journey will teach us how to be happy and excited about life or how to be sad and depressed.
How we spend our time and money are decisions that will have a substantial impact on our happiness.
A Cornell University professor of psychology, named Thomas Gilovich, has demonstrated for many years that we are happier when we spend our money on experiences, like vacations or going out to dinner, than when we buy material things, like a new TV or couch.
Also Dr. Gilovich and his research team analyzed online reviews by people on various consumer websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
They found that people generally demonstrate more gratitude when they write about their experiences than when they write about material goods purchased on sites such as Amazon.
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #6
Listen To Up Beat Music!
Have you ever felt down, melancholy or even sad and turned on the radio to help you feel better?
I know I have many times. I’m sure you have too and there’s a reason for that.
The science behind that reaction to sadness is interesting.
How To Be Happy Through Music.
From the fairly new research by Dr. Yana Ferguson at the University of Missouri, we learn how to be happy through music.
The name of the study, “Trying to Be Happier Really Can Work: Two Experimental Studies” was even published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
This study measured brain activity in participants, to show how their overall happiness improved when listening to upbeat music.
The results showed substantially higher levels of activity in the region of the brain associated with anticipating rewards and listeners were found to experience a rush of dopamine to the brain’s pleasure center.
As long as the music participants listened to was happy and upbeat, they successfully raised their level of personal well-being. Simply put, they were happier.
What kind of music best serves the purpose of making us happy?
How Music Make Us Happier
Happy music normally will have a fast tempo and will be written in a major key. Sad music, on the other hand, is usually written in the minor keys and carries a slower tempo.
Sad music slows your pulse rate and raises your blood pressure. On the other hand, happy upbeat music causes you to breathe faster and increases your heart rate, which increases blood flow.
Music has also been found to boost your immune systems as demonstrated in patients after having surgery.
Pregnant women were also found to have reduced stress levels using music therapy. Cardiac patients lowered their blood pressure using this method as well.
Also, Cal State University research showed that children in the hospital were happier using music therapy.
Music therapy has also been shown to have a greater effect on subjects with depression than other kinds of therapies. Music has also been known to lower anxiety levels and even reduce feelings of loneliness in the elderly.
Simply by choosing upbeat ‘Happy’ music to listen to, you can positively reduce anxiety, reduce depression, boost your immune system, reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and, last but not least, you can feel happy.
🎯 How To Be Happier Trigger #7
Service To Others
How To Be Happier Through Service
When I was a kid, my family had a song that we would all sing. It was almost a family anthem. The song went like this;
When we’re helping we’re happy
And we sing as we go
For we like to help Chucky
For we all love him so
We would sing a verse of this song for every member of the family and many times we’d even sing a verse for the dog
That song solidified in our young minds, that we loved one another and that when we’re helping someone, we’re happier than if we did not give of ourselves.
Now that I’m older, I still believe that you are the happiest when you are assisting someone else. That’s one of the reasons I spend so much time writing blog posts like this – it make me happy to help you.
But, I still needed some outside validation of my personal belief regarding the concept of how to be happy by serving others.
In my research on this topic, I found that in one study, people who volunteer their time to assist others, generally:
- have higher self-esteem
- enjoy a better sense of well-being
- feel happier
- have improved health
- experience increased longevity
The research also revealed that in this land of vast opportunity, we call America;
- 41% of Americans give an average of 100 hours a year serving others.
- 68% of the volunteers, said serving others made them feel physically healthier.
- 89% reported that volunteering had improved their levels of happiness.
- 73% stated that by helping others, they actually helped themselves by lowering their stress levels.
Serving others will boost your self-confidence, expand your self-esteem, and increase your personal happiness.
Giving of yourself to others pays a dividend in return. The happiness you experience by volunteering comes to you through a greater sense of community, a natural sense of accomplishment and can also give you a sense of pride and better sense of self-worth.
Contribution gives you a purpose and makes you more valuable to others and the community.
When you serve you add value to who you are. You are a more valued member of the community. Without you and your help and assistance, the community would have less and be less. Serving makes you feel needed, important and valued.
That brings self-satisfaction and personal happiness. When you help others achieve their hopes and dreams, you are also fulfilling your need to feel useful. Each of these experiences teach us how to be happy. Again, by serving the needs of others we fulfill our own desire to be happy.
Happiness is the ultimate goal of everyone’s American dream. The best way to be happy is to help another be happy.
It’s like a fire that is given to another and both are warmed by its cheery, friendly light. Be that light in the life of another.
I find it very interesting that living the American dream is so much more easily and often achieved in the country, that has one of the world’s highest rates of volunteerism, the United States. (see how to be happy helping others)
Is there a correlation between giving and receiving? That’s a good question. I believe that there is – especially as it relates to happiness.
Helping others is an investment of sorts. As you give happiness to others, a dividend of happiness is returned. The more you give the bigger and more frequent the happiness dividend is triggered in you.
Researchers at the London School of Economics took a look at the relationship between volunteering and a person’s level of happiness. What they found was that the more people volunteered, the happier they were.
When they compared large groups of people who never volunteered, to those that did volunteer, the odds broke down like this;
- Those who volunteered monthly increased their chances of being “very happy” by 7%.
- Those who volunteered every 2-4 weeks increased their chances of being “very happy” by 12%.
- Those who volunteered weekly increased their chances of being “very happy” by 16%.
By way of comparison, a person earning $75,000-$100,000 annually, would feel 16% happier than if earning only $20,000 annually.
Eleanor Roosevelt once remarked, “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
How To Be Happy Again and Again
By signing up to volunteer monthly or weekly at your child’s school, a homeless shelter or by visiting a shut-in, you are setting up a happiness trigger that activates happiness in you automatically.
By setting up these 7 happiness triggers, you can be happy again and again until your become truly happy everyday. This kind of happiness grows and grows until you become the happiness you give.
Here Are The 7 Happiness Triggers Once More:
- Fresh Flowers
- Potted Plants
- A Real Big Smile
- Good Posture
- Buy Experiences, Not Things
- Up Beat Music
- Service To Others
In this article we talked about how to be happy again and again by doing hands-on physical things using happiness triggers.
In my next post we’ll discuss the power of gratitude.
Gratitude is an extremely important but often forgotten secret to true happiness. This article on gratitude, discusses the question, “What is happiness” as well as the mental efforts you can make to maintain personal happiness.
Here’s a sneak preview the benefits of being grateful.
Did You Know That Grateful People:
- Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
- Are less bothered by aches and pains
- Have stronger immune systems
- Take better care of their health
- Have lower blood pressure
- Maintain lower heart rates
- Enjoy more enthusiasm
- Have more energy
- Exercise more
Simply put, grateful people enjoy more overall health and are happier.
And that’s not all. To see the emotional, social, vocational and personal achievement benefits of gratitude, check out the article.
 Ferguson, Y.L., & Sheldon, K.M. (2013). Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(1), 23-33. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2012.747000