Finally: a practical (and really very easy) way to get happier.

Image: iStock.

Got a calendar, wall planner or diary nearby? Good. Because it could hold the key to being more satisfied and happy in life.

Now don’t roll your eyes; we’re not going to tell you to scribble down an inspirational quote for every day of the year, or to go all Bridget Jones and spill your emotions out on the page (although if that makes you feel good, go right ahead).

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Instead, we need to talk about something called ‘prioritising positivity’ and how it can change your life for the better.

According to new research, the way you schedule and structure your day-to-day life has a significant effect on your wellbeing.

Happiness, coming right up.


For the study, 235 adults aged between 21 and 65 had their overall wellbeing measured, along with how much they valued happiness and how much they prioritised positivity — that is, whether they sought out positive emotional experiences when choosing how to organise their days.

Interestingly, the researchers found those who valued happiness — i.e. they 'agreed strongly' with phrases like “How happy I am at any given moment says a lot about how worthwhile my life is" and “If I don’t feel happy, maybe there is something wrong with me” — were more likely to experience negative emotions and depression.

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Meanwhile, those who prioritised positivity — agreeing with statements like "I structure my day to maximise my happiness" and "What I decide to do with my time outside of work is influenced by how much I might experience positive emotions" — were associated with a more positive level of wellbeing and life satisfaction. (Post continues after gallery.)

This suggests the success of pursuing happiness is largely influenced by how you approach it. So often we perceive happiness as something that just 'happens' or is bestowed upon us — 'if I lost seven kilos, I'd be happier' or 'if I could just find a boyfriend my life would be so much happier'.


Instead, perhaps we should be taking control over our happiness and giving ourselves the best chance possible to frequently feel positive emotions.

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The study authors suggest situation-selection — structuring your life and choosing activities you anticipate to be pleasant and enjoyable, is an effective, practical way to make happiness happen. It could also be more achievable than designing your life around constant excitement, which we're all a bit guilty of (you can probably blame Instagram for that).

Now you have the perfect excuse for a bubble bath.


Obviously, these activities will differ from one person to the next — one person's relaxing bath is another's idea of hell.

The researchers also note that people might not always accurately predict what activities will deliver pleasant feelings; for instance, spending time to "acquire the latest fashions" might not actually work as well as you'd expect. Generally, though, they believe we all know what activities fill us with genuinely happy feels.

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“For some people, this could mean regularly setting aside time for gardening and cooking; for others, it could mean making time to connect with good friends," co-author Lahnna I Catalino tells Scientific American.

“Reflect on the activities that bring you contentment or joy and make time for these events in your daily life.”

So what will you be scheduling for your happiness this week?