10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy!

I came across this great article and thought that it may be something other ladies would be interested in as well.  I mean, don’t we all want to know the secret to sustainable happiness?

In this article, scientists help point out the 10 most “happy-making” things you can do.  Research proven!

Savor Everyday Moments

Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Avoid Comparisons

While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.

Put Money Low on the List

People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.

Have Meaningful Goals

“People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”

Take Initiative In School and At Work

How happy you are in school and at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

Make Friends, Treasure Family

Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring.

Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.

Say Thank You Like You Mean It

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.

Get Out and Exercise

A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.

Give It Away, Give It Away Now!

Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.



The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Penguin Press, 2008

Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth,
Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2008

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment,
Tal Ben-Shahar, McGraw-Hill, 2007

Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,
Robert Emmons, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007


32 Responses to “10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy!”

  1. taylor nikole Says:

    oh thats actually interesting
    and so true
    all of them
    and they make you feel better about yourself
    thereby feeling content with yourself
    which in turn makes you happy…

    i saw a few which people are reluctant to do…
    but i think ultimately when i do them, i discover new things about myself….
    even if i’ve don’t those ‘things’ before…
    and having a sense of self ultimately makes me happy

    did that make sense?

  2. Brooke Says:

    Totally! Especially ones like “Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It” or “Get Out and Exercise” and “Give It Away, Give It Away Now!” can be really hard to do.

    I propose a CHALLENGE.

    Try to live like this for ONE WEEK. If you can’t make it a whole week, try 3-4 days and see how you feel. Make sure you do all 10 of these things at least twice during your challenge period. I think that we could have a conversation on here about the results. What do you think?? I’m in if you’re in!

  3. taylor nikole Says:

    hmm maybe i don’t want to know the secret…
    but a little push never hurt anyone 🙂

  4. taylor nikole Says:

    im up
    a little challenge is always fun
    lets go for the challenge brooke!

  5. Chris Says:

    I find all the things listed here to be quite effective. When you are happy, it is bound to show in your everyday life. You will have this aura around you.

    As you go through life, I think you are going to learn more about yourself and push the borders and develop an empowered sense of self. We do tend to look for satisfaction in material possessions which only brings short term pleasure. Is it really that easy to stop comparing yourself with other people?

  6. Chris Says:

    Im in! lets do the challenge

  7. Brooke Says:

    Yes, I think that comparing yourself to others is a tricky one. On one hand, I think that it can be extremely valuable to see someone you admire and say to yourself, “Well, if they can do it, then I believe that I can too!”, but on the other hand if you compare yourself to other people that you don’t necessarily admire or respect, then you can find yourself extremely unhappy. I think this ties in to Number 4 about having meaningful goals. If you think that someone is prettier or more powerful than you, then you will waste time putting yourself DOWN in comparison to them. I think that it is important to “compare” yourself to others ONLY in the sense that you are inspired and motivated to be a TRULY better version of yourself that represents your meaningful goals and values. Does that make sense?

  8. taylor nikole Says:

    ohhh dude brooke that makes total sense
    i had to re read the last 2 sentences twice though…

    its also
    in a way we shouldn’t compare externally, but if we see a good example and want to follow to better our lives and others, then we have the possibility of matching and comparing to others.

    But then again comparing ourselves to others is never really the answer.
    Maybe its not so much comparing
    as looking at something and setting a goal…

    or thats the way it should be.. but sometimes by instinct we have this sense of “they are better for me… i will never do this and that”
    but ultimately that just makes us sink lower
    hmm im confusing myself now

  9. Brooke Says:

    I know what you mean. I think that using someone else’s achievements as a motivation for your own personal growth and development (that are inline with your meaningful goals) is a valuable thing. This is inspiration. This is motivation. This lifts you UP.

    I think that when you compare yourself to someone who doesn’t really represent your values, then you will only find yourself feeling DOWN.

    The trick is to use other’s achievements to show you that you can do it too! It should be energizing and inspiring to see someone do something incredible and valuable. I have so many amazing role models that are a source of inspiration and help me re-new my commitment to the meaningful goals I have set out for myself.

    When I find myself comparing myself to others that DON’T represent my values, that’s when I find myself feeling down. Like when I think “Oh, I wish I was as pretty or as tall as her!”, that is when I find myself feeling LOW. That’s because being pretty or being tall isn’t really a meaningful goal of mine! It’s just something that pops into my head every now and again. I think once you are able to separate out what is really meaningful in this world, you will be able focus on the things that matter and have a happier, freer, and better life!

  10. Kailin Says:

    What a great Thanksgiving-like article. I love it! I remember the singer Cher once said, “I choose happiness!” I find that when you choose happiness, everything else falls into place.

  11. Brooke Says:

    P.S. This dialogue is really great! Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post!

  12. taylor nikole Says:

    which doesn’t mean the spark of a new idea in your mind is any less valid than following an already existing idea of another
    which is cool

    but its also okay to base your values upon others
    which i think most people do anyways…
    its just the values that you ultimately choose to make your own personal (morals) that are important….
    to in a way, who you are in the end….
    and what you decide to do and where you decide to take what you do…

    although i get what you mean with the comparisons
    we have a society with alot of feelings soely based on what media and whatnot throws out
    in the open

    i think it would be much easier, but not as much if we could separate media from ‘being’ and reality.
    not that media had such importance it just seems like a huge factor

    and we are always going to have those urges to compare ourselves…

    anything you can do i can do better *sings*

  13. Chris Says:

    Sometimes we should just take a step back and watch our thoughts and reactions. I also think this is extremely helpful in assisting you in understanding why did you act the way you did? We are the ones that give people the power they have over us.

    Then again we live in a culture in which we are constantly bombarded with images and standards we should adhere to. Comparing yourself with others may also give you a temporary boost to your ego. Later on , you may discover that there is always someone “better” than you at something. I think we should just work on developing a positive self-esteem. It is really yourself you will be together will all the days of your life.

    yeah I dunno if that makes any sense since my brain cells are basically fried haha I need some sleep. Great responses guys 😉

  14. taylor nikole Says:

    but there is this difficulty of being able to pull yourself apart from your being
    and be on the outside looking in…
    also a challenge all in itself.

    and sometimes even the ability to watch yourself doesn’t mean a thing, when you haven’t
    ‘walked a mile’ in another shoes…

    how are you supposed to create your own sense of morals and see what you are doing right and wrong, if you don’t know about others first…
    which is confusing, because i ultimately believe we have to know ourselves before thinking of knowing others…

    maybe it just reverses depending on the scenario

    and its also awkward that we don’t like others to judge, but others are the best judges, yet we say that only we can judge ourselves….

  15. Chris Says:

    “No man is an island unto himself”-John Donne

    I think this quote pretty much explains it. Our values are no doubt influenced by what we come into contact with. People can guide us in regards to what notions we have. Like what do we call good? What makes it good? We have to have some kind of criteria before we make an judgment.

  16. taylor nikole Says:

    haha ultimately experience shapes us
    no matter what experience.

  17. Chris Says:

    I totally agree here. Everyone has different experiences. You are not going the same ones as I have nor will I of yours. Experience is the best teacher.

  18. Brooke Says:

    Remember that “the way you spend your days is the way you spend your life”. That is why every day is so important. Here are some other quotes that I really find inspiration from:

    “The human brain is unique in that it is the only container of which it can be said that the more you put into it, the more it will hold.”

    “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”

    “Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”

    “Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.”

    “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. Lying is exhausting!”

    “This is your moment. Own it.”

    “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.”

    “Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.”

    “The only cure for grief is action.”

    “An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”

    “The things you own end up owning you.”

    “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

    “Everything is governed by the rule of ‘one thing leads to another’ “

  19. Girls by Design: This is a Blog » Blog Archive » News Day Tuesday: Thanks Says:

    […] take time out and list all the things that you’re thankful for.  In fact, Brooke posted an awesome list of things that help you find happiness, and one of the things on that list is related to […]

  20. Brooke Says:

    Oh, no! This last comment sounds like a good start but it incomplete!

  21. taylor nikole Says:

    its in her blog!
    ohh and i hope youve been participating in your challenge!

  22. Emma-Lu Says:

    @Brooke, these are awesome! Amazing how we try to complicate our lives to find happiness, when in fact it’s such simple things like; (off the top of my head)….watering a plant… or… having a staring competition with your puppy that can give you that soothing happiness!

  23. Kailin Says:


    You are so funny. The dialogue continues…I love your list, and I’m going to share it with everyone I know, especially my mother who is undergoing cancer treatments. She’s the most positive and happy person I know, but this will be a good reminder, too. I know a lot of people who are older, seems to have everything they worked for all their lives including status, prestige, wealth, and fame, but are not happy because they’ve lost their perspective.

    Take care!

  24. Brooke Says:

    Hi Kailin, I really hope that this puts a smile on your mother’s face. What a hard thing to go through and she can probably use all the “happiness recipes” that she can get!

  25. taylor nikole Says:

    hmm brooke have you been participating in your challenge??

  26. Brooke Says:

    So, to be perfectly honest here, I have been struggling this week. First of all, I live in Thailand and there has been some serious political trouble here over the last week. Protesters have taken over the international airport and there are about 100,000 people that are stuck here in Thailand and can’t get out. There have been over a million people that have been affected and no one know how this stand off will end. That being said, it’s really hard for me to totally let go and be 100% happy right now because the situation is quite stressful.

    Second, my boyfriend and I recently moved into an apartment together, which has been great, but has also been challenging. Right below our window is a family that has 3-4 little yapping dogs that just wont quit. They have been waking us up every morning at 4am with their high pitched barking and it sounds like nails on a chalkboard while getting my hair pulled at the same time. Just horrible. It got so bad, that even when my bf and I are wearing earplugs we still can’t sleep through it. I’ve never experienced anything so annoying with absolutely no way to stop it. I have been waking up at 4am angry for the past week and have definitely not been in a good place to start my challenge!

    So, that being said…

    I am sitting in my NEW apartment on the opposite side of the building from those dogs and am FINALLY starting to feel more at peace and I feel confident that I can start my challenge today!

    How are you doing with your challenge??

  27. taylor nikole Says:

    well lets see:

    Most of the week was fairly easy, but it always seems easy when you are on vacation….
    (also easy with the challenge)
    since honestly most of it was spent inside because i was out of town… alone and i couldn’t really go anywhere….
    (although i did try for the exercise)

    aside from that, I went back home for thanksgiving and found a few aspects of the challenge… challenging
    although having that ‘challenge’, it really made me think about ‘our ‘challenge’ more.

    I focused alot on the ‘smile when you don’t feel like it’ and it really helped me get through the night 🙂

    hmm although starting it again seems like a really good idea, due to my being stuck in the house most of the week….
    and im returning to school
    (oh yay :-/)

  28. Brooke Says:

    Well, my boyfriend and I slept safe and sound last night in out new quiet apartment!

    I am ready to re-start the challenge… who’s with me?!

  29. taylor nikole Says:

    hehe always good 🙂

    and lets do it
    ill get chris and binks to do it too 🙂
    and veronica lol

    hmm and if im lucky mari LOL

  30. Kathy Says:

    Neat post Brooke!  Have you heard of this book called “The Geography of Bliss”?  I’ve only read an excerpt from it, but the excerpt I did read was super interesting because the author talks about his experiences in Iceland.  For those who don’t know, Iceland is pretty much always cold and dark, yet is consistently ranked among the happiest nations in the world (although now, I’m not sure if that’s still true what with the their economic woes, but that’s a different story).  So the author was wondering what was up with that.  And he found that Icelanders approach failure in a very positive way.  They embrace failure and take it as a sign that you at least tried, and that if things didn’t work out, then oh well…at least you experienced something different and maybe learned something as well.  That’s very different from the way many Americans approach failure…maybe because so many of us are so focused on achieving “success” that we run away from anything that suggests otherwise?  I don’t know.  I just thought the Icelandic perspective was very eye-opening.

    I also wonder what people mean when they say “happiness” or they want to be “happy”?  To me, when I hear people say this, what I’m thinking is that they really mean something more along the lines of being content and fulfilled?  Satisfied with their lives and their efforts?  Because “happiness” to me is like a high point, and not really something that can be sustained without losing its meaning.  It’s a temporary state, to be relished when we come up on it.  I’m not sure if it’s possible to achieve happiness that is a permanent or a long-lasting state, and if that’s true, then is it healthy to seek that sort of state?  To seek what is essentially impossible?  But I do think it’s possible to be content and fulfilled for a long time.  Hmm…what do you think?

    Also, what’s the down low on Thailand?  I read that the courts dissolved the ruling party.  Are the protesters happy about that?  What’s the feeling of the general populace there?  Has all the craziness affected your day-to-day?

    Glad that you got away from those dogs.  😉

  31. Brooke Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    Yes, I have heard of “The Geography of Bliss”, but I haven’t read it. Thank you for bringing up that very important point about different culture’s perspectives on failure. I think you really hit the nail on the head there. A good chunk of the time that I feel unhappy it’s because I feel like I have failed at something. That I wasn’t as good as I needed to be or felt that I had to be. Most of the time when I get down, it is really ME that is giving myself sucha hard time!

    If we really learn ourselves and understand the parts of ourselves that control our moods, our behaviors, our decisions and so on, then I think we will be able to pain a clear picture of what we need to do to be the person we WANT to be.

  32. Girls by Design: This is a Blog » Blog Archive » 10 Activities to Help You Make a Change in 2009 Says:

    […] 9. Get Happy! […]

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