Diamonds, holidays, avocado on toast – it can often feel like all the good stuff in life costs your monthly salary and half of your soul. It doesn’t have to.
A highly underrated possession that might possibly be the best thing in life? Happiness. Even better, it doesn’t have to cost the earth (literally) and can be achieved almost instantly.
Here are seven natural lifestyle choices that can directly improve your happiness.
1. Getting outdoors.
Put down your phone, leave your desk, head outdoors. Studies have shown that hanging out with nature can not only boost your brain function, get the creative juices flowing and reduce stress, but also make you happy.
When the body is exposed to sunlight, our serotonin levels – the hormone that helps put us in a good mood – increases. We also need a (very small and safe) hit of the sun’s UV rays to create Vitamin D, which also helps the body maintain high levels of the feel-good hormone.
So whether it’s a run, walk or a sit down outdoors, make time for it today.
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2. Crack a smile.
Ever heard the saying “Fake it ’til you make it”? It even applies to happiness.
A 2012 study published in Psychological Science put 169 participants in stressful, multi-tasking situations and using chopsticks to put their facial muscles into a neutral expression, a standard smile, or genuine smile.
They found that when you’re feeling stressed, even the most forced smile can decrease your stress levels and leave you feeling happier.