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The Science of Happiness
Some things that are related to happiness are obvious: being in a loving relationship, doing work you find meaningful, being healthy, being connected to people. But, scientists say, there are some happiness producers that might surprise you, including:
Having a sister. A recent study at the University of Ulster showed that people who have a sister are more likely to be happy and optimistic than are only children or people who have only brothers. The theory is that sisters do a better job of connecting family members and encouraging communication – both of which can increase happiness.
Having a pet. If you don’t have a sister – or even if you do -- get a dog. Numerous studies have shown that having a pet increases happiness.
Getting cultured. According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology, men who enjoy art and ballet feel happier than those who do not.
Smiling – or better, yet, laughing. Research shows that either can lift your spirits. However, the smile or laughter must be genuine – faking won’t work.
Standing up straight. Research at Florida Atlantic University showed that just standing tall and walking with long strides and your head held high makes you feel better.
Checking the temperature. Although lying in the sun on the beach might make you feel happy for other reasons, research has determined that the optimal temperature for happiness is 57.02 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stop and smell the roses – literally. In a study by a psychology professor at Rutgers University, students who wrote an essay in a room infused with a light floral fragrance used three times as many happy words in their essay as did those who wrote in an odorless room.
Wear bright colors. Happier people naturally wear bright colors, while people who are depressed tend to prefer colors like gray and black. Try switching up your wardrobe to improve your outlook.
Take a nap. It is much harder to be optimistic when you are tired, so if you can’t see the bright side, try sleeping more.