Happiness has always been difficult to quantify because it is subjective, depending on if you have a short- or a long-term outlook on life. Recently, researchers have started to distinguish between two types of happiness:
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The Happiness Pie Chart, first published in 2005, states that 50% of our happiness is defined by our genes, 40% by our activities and 10% by our life circumstances.
Ways to give yourself a happiness boost:
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Find ways to perform small, random acts of kindness during your day. These acts can be incredibly simple, from complimenting a stranger at the grocery store on his or her shirt to making your spouse coffee before work to engaging a co-worker you don't usually talk with in a friendly Zoom chat.
Deliberately performing random acts of kindness can make you feel happier and those acts you do for others has a longer-term effect on your own happiness.
This works because these acts tap into your natural prosocial behavior, or the basic human impulse to help others, Simon-Thomas says. When you invest your own resources in the welfare of others, it activates your brain's reward system -- you feel good that you made the other person feel good.
Writing down three things you're grateful for at the end of each day, and why they happened, leads to long term increases in happiness and decreases in depressive symptoms, according to a 2005 study from Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
It doesn't matter how large or small each thing is -- just write them down, in a notebook or your Notes app or wherever.
The point is to train your mind to orient itself to the parts of your life that are good, instead of directing your attention to things that are stressful or irritating.
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