How to put more happy into Happy New Year

Happiness may seem elusive – but finding it isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here are seven ways to help you be happier in 2017.

Happiness is good for your sense of wellbeing, but do you really know what makes you smile? And do you know how to get in contact with your inner joy?

Here are seven suggestions that may help.


1. Turn that frown upside down

It seems that the simple act of just smiling can help make us happier, according to some researchers. It’s thought that flexing certain facial muscles when we smile may trick our brain into believing we’re happy about something and, consequently, may even help us feel happier overall. 

2. Focus on fun

There’s nothing mystical or magical about happiness, says psychologist and author of The Happiness Handbook, Dr Timothy Sharp. “Rather, it’s something we can all experience more of if we do the right things and make the right sort of choices,” he says. Among his recommendations is having more fun.
 
Here are a few of his tips:
 
  • Find ways to laugh regularly
  • Try something completely new
  • Do something you haven’t done for a long time but used to enjoy
  • Watch young children and copy them!

3. Take it outside

It may seem obvious, but getting out into the sunshine can be a great. Sensible exposure to sunlight can help raise our levels of serotonin, one of the “happy” hormones, which can result in a more positive mood. Research suggests that women with depression who spend more time in the sun may experience an improvement in their symptoms over time, which could be linked to their vitamin D levels. So enjoy the sunshine this summer, but don’t forget to be sun safe too.
Couple walking along the beach looking happy

4. Become a volunteer

If you want to feel happier and healthier, volunteering can be a win-win activity. “Volunteering, health and happiness together create a positive reinforcing loop: the more you volunteer, the healthier you become,” says associate professor Thomas Nielsen of the University of Canberra. 
There are so many ways to give back, from visiting an elderly person to volunteering at a charity event. 

5. Limit your social media 

Comparing yourself to others on social media can have a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem, says author of The Kindness Pact, Domonique Bertolucci. “Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear,” she explains. “Modern social media platforms give everyday people the chance to manage their ‘public perception’ in much the same way as a celebrity does. So when you read about acquaintances, old school friends and exes on social media, they are [often] only telling or showing you what they want you to see and hear.” That doesn’t mean you have to stay off social media altogether, but, as recent research from the Australian Psychological Society suggests, offline human connections and strong social relationships are real keys to happiness.  

6. Get moving

The mood-lifting effects of exercise are well documented. Some people start to report benefits after just a few minutes of moderate exercise. When we exercise, our levels of endorphins – the feel-good hormones – can increase, enhancing our mood. To boost the effect, take yourself to a park. Researchers have found “green exercise” may not only benefit your physical wellbeing by helping to lower your blood pressure but can also have a positive effect on self-esteem.  

7. Sleep well 

“It’s hard to be happy if you’re literally sick and tired,” says Timothy Sharp. “So as you take care of your health and wellbeing, don’t forget sleep and rest – these are just as important as nutrition and exercise.” Give yourself time to wind down before bed with relaxing activities like a warm bath or reading. A drop of lavender on a tissue inside your pillowcase can work wonders for some people, too. 
 
With those seven ideas in mind, you might find yourself laughing all the way to the next “Happy New Year”.
 
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