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The science of happiness

Study after study has shown that having gratitude can lead to greater personal happiness. What is it about doing something for others that leads to greater joy in our own lives? Let’s take a look at the health and happiness benefits that can come with spreading joy.

Happiness is...

Happiness is contagious. Over the course of 20 years, the Framingham Heart Study found that those who physically surround themselves with happy people experience more individual happiness themselves.

Happiness is practice. Feeling down? You can retrain your brain. All it takes is focusing on positive actions more consistently. This could retrain a synapse to recognize positive patterns rather than negative ones. Here are some tips:

  • Identify three simple, positive things that happened in your day.
  • Share a genuine compliment with someone.
  • Walk for 20 minutes.

Happiness is skill. Learning a foreign language, an instrument or a new craft may seem like a daunting task that requires a lot of time and energy. However, science shows that taking on a new challenge is well worth it. Published studies note that those who master new skills and challenges have both greater short- and long-term happiness.

Happiness is physical. Studies show that exercising for just 20 minutes at least three times per week can increase happiness levels 10-20 percent.

Gratitude gets academic

Gratitude gets full academic treatment through the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Started in 2001, the mission of the Greater Good Science Center is to study “the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.” Through their publications, online courses, events, research and major initiatives, they hope to turn “cutting-edge research into practical resources for happiness, compassion, and the meaningful life.” Find out about free online courses and more at ggsc.berkeley.edu/.

The key to happiness

Lynda.com offers several courses around the topics of happiness and gratitude. Tips and topics include practicing forgiveness and gratitude, identifying feats, reducing stress and more. Browse these and hundreds of other tutorials free with your Anythink card. Click here to get started.


SOURCES: Harvard Health Publications, Greater Good Science Center, Business Insider, British Medical Journal

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