Finland named happiest country in the world World Happiness Report 2023. But experts agree that beyond crossing the ocean, there are ways to boost your well-being no matter where you live.
“Happiness is a habit,” says Talia Soen, CEO and founder of Happy Things, a platform that helps you build those habits into your daily activities.
Thorne claims happiness has not always been easy for her. Her older brother has a higher baseline happiness, and when she reflected on this difference, she decided to create an app as a way to improve her life based on the science behind happiness.
“A lot of people think of happiness as something unrealistic, out of reach, something elusive,” she said. “We’re trying to break it down into something that’s really teachable and approachable.”
Many experts agree that there are steps you can take to achieve happiness, no matter your life circumstances. Here are the habits they say happy people tend to develop.
develop a positive attitude
thorn passing by Researcher Sonia Lyubomirsky’s definition of happiness It says “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being combined with the fact that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
Soen believes it makes sense to find happiness in the little things in life.
“That’s really true, and the key is to be mindful and actively incorporate these things into our daily lives, not just wait for them to happen,” she said.
One way to actively cultivate a sense of well-being is to start a gratitude journal. Experts agree that the practice of meditation can help many people recognize and revel in those parts of their lives that bring joy, big and small.
Likewise, a positive mindset has been shown to increase well-being.
“It’s an evolutionary mechanism for us to focus on the negative because it keeps us safe, but it also increases our stress cortisol, which can have a negative effect,” Thorne said.
Meditation is one way to learn how to shift your mindset, but Thorne never had much luck with it. Instead, she found she was able to reach a meditative state while running or practicing yoga.
“So it doesn’t have to be sitting in a dark room with candles,” she says.
A lack of stress can be the determining factor in how happy you are. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, Thorne says. But even if you don’t have the time or opportunity to be outdoors year-round, you can mimic the benefits of being outdoors by listening to the sounds of nature.
Stress also depends on how much time you have. Dr. Laurie Santos is a professor of psychology at Yale University and host of the Happiness Lab podcast, researching the science behind happiness. There’s a concept called “time affluence,” in which people who have free time feel happier, she said.
Time abundance is the opposite of time scarcity, she says, “You’re actually craving time, and research shows that if you self-report time poverty, that can be a big hit to your well-being, as much as you self-report it. “Report unemployment. “
A 2021 study published by the American Psychological Association Shows the presence of too much free time, but also shows that less than two hours of free time per day equates to lower levels of happiness. Research has concluded that two to five hours of free time per day is ideal for optimal well-being.
Another common source of stress is money. “If you’re really struggling financially, if you can’t support yourself, or can’t support yourself, then yes, increasing the money you have will definitely make you happier,” she said.
However, An oft-cited 2010 study found that happiness leveled off after you hit $75,000 a year in income.
“There’s been some nuance in some of the recent research, but I think what the data is really showing us is that money has a much smaller impact on our happiness than we think,” Santos said.
You don’t have to train for a marathon to get what experts say is the dopamine and endorphins that equate to happiness.
“There have been a few studies looking at well-being and exercise, the most notable of which compared half an hour of aerobic exercise a day with things like taking antidepressant prescriptions,” Santos said. “But a lot of research basically shows that we can indeed influence our levels of happiness by being physically active a little bit more.”
The science behind this is unclear, but some Researchers suspect that exercise can improve brain function and thus help treat some mental disorders, bring more happiness.many studies show Even short workouts can achieve this effect.
As Thorne mentioned before, exercising outside can be a double whammy.
“People have found that listening to the sounds of nature and breathing fresh air can enhance well-being,” she said.
America is experiencing a loneliness epidemic that equates loneliness with a health danger similar to that of smoking. A statement from the Surgeon General in March warned of serious health risks for those in the community who feel isolated.
Quite the opposite, having friends, family, and other strong social ties through career or volunteer work is essential to well-being.
The World Happiness Report defines this social support factor as having someone to lean on or lend a helping hand in times of need.
“All the existing research on happy people shows that happy people are more social,” Santos said. “They spend more time with friends and family, and with other people more often. So I think there’s a clear link between having more social connections and feeling happier. That’s why the loneliness epidemic is so One of the serious reasons.”
Soen’s app fosters this sense of well-being by suggesting users grab lunch with a colleague or text an old friend.
“It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” Thorne said. “There are even two or three people in your life that you feel are going to be there for you. That way you can turn to a support system for you, which is really important.”