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slides: 10 Ways to Be Happier

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Is there a universal formula for happiness? Many studies have analyzed what makes us fickle humans happy. Some savvy researchers have even developed a way to personally track our happiness. Below are 10 proven tips on boosting happiness, just for Central Mass residents. And even though Massachusetts ranks an impressive #14 on Gallup's Well-Being Poll, you can still always afford to be a little happier smile

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"Buy" Experiences

People do not get bored with happy memories as they do with material objects, according to Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. With that thought, go buy some memories!

Local happiness hook-up: Consider a trip to the movies at the Elm Street Draughthouse, or cuddle up with that special someone inside your car at the Leicester Triple Drive In.

Photo: Tetra Pak/flickr
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Give to others

Studies show that giving to others leads to happiness and that this is even true in young children. This one is easy... there are countless non-profits welcoming volunteers!

Local happiness hook-up: Look into volunteering for Saint Vincent Hospital. Or, if you're an animal lover, why not help out at the Sterling Animal Shelter.

Photo: RI Food Bank
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Green Exercise

Just five minutes of exercise in natural settings boosts self-esteem and mood, according to the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Summer is the perfect time to revel in the outdoors.

Local happiness hook-up: You don't have to be hard-core to get exercise outdoors, and you don't have to be in the suburbs, either. Here in Worcester there are several parks you can work up a sweat in, and you can always hike the historic Mass Central Rail Trail.

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Get a Pet

Pets make us happier and healthier, providing social, psychological, and physical support to their owners, according to research.

Local happiness hook-up: Consider adopting an animal from the Worcester Animal Rescue League.

Photo: Jim Whimpey
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If anyone should know a lot about happiness, the smiling Dalai Lama would. The Dalai Lama and researcher Richard Davidson opened the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds to conduct research on the mind's healthy qualities. And there is no surprise in this finding--meditation has good effects. Meditation is all about being in the moment with your breathing. Various studies listed on the site have found that meditation has positive effects on one's mental health, improving response to stress, empathy, social connectedness, and you guessed it, positive emotions!

Local happiness hook-up: Anyone can meditate anywhere--traveling on an WRTA bus or at a center, with others or alone. Learn more here.

Photo: Lululemon
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Find Your Flow

Studies have shown that living in the moment are vital to being more positive. The "flow" consists of those magical moments of absolute absorption when engaged in an activity so that time seems to pass by extra quickly. Even books have been written on flow. Flow can involve anything, from writing and photography to solving a mathematical proof and philosophizing.

Local happiness hook-up: Why not express your creative side by exploring painting? Just Paint offers professional help for aspiring artists of all skill levels.

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Insufficient sleep is a no-no. It subtracts from being awake. And we all need to be awake to be happy! On a more serious note, lack of sleep can have a negative impact on teenagers' moods, according to Brown University researcher and professor Mary Carskadon.

Local happiness hook-up: Sleep in once in awhile. Take an in-town vacation and treat yourself to a nap in one of Central Mass' finest hotels. For some relaxation, check out the Beechwood Hotel and their fine dining restaurant Ceres.

Photo: bengarrison/flickr
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Stay in Touch

We humans are social creatures and need to maintain our connections. One study even suggests that http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/02/17/0956797610362675.full" target="_blank">meaningful conversations with others is important to happiness. Find ways to get out with friends and the happiness will be contagious!

Local happiness hook-up:  Check out some of Central Mass' best coffee and pastry shops. With locations in Worcester and Shrewsbury, the Bean Counter is a great place to grab a cup of Joe and shoot the breeze.

Photo: Teas and Javas/Alex and Ani Providence
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Write About It

 At the end of the day, remember the "Bridget Jones effect," which shows that keeping a journal is emotionally fulfilling. Write down what makes you thankful and remember to write down what made you feel good each day. Focus on the positive and find ways to address the negative aspects of your life.

Local happiness hook-up: Start putting your thoughts and feelings on paper at the end of each day. Find your own special place.

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Pursue Happiness

No list of tips can be comprehensive, so make sure to notice what makes YOU happy! Hot chocolate, chamomile tea, Harry Potter, and a great many other wonderful things in this world have been known to work. There are plenty of resources out there on happiness as well, like those TED talks.

Happy happiness hunting!


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