Each Monday in January, we're sharing a number of science-backed tips guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Here are more things you can easily do (today, tomorrow, next week or next month!) to find your happy place.
Make Your Meal Happy
Yes, you can eat to your heart’s content! “The largest factor that you control in terms of your happiness is at the end of your fork,” says Drew Ramsey, M.D., a psychiatrist and author of The Happiness Diet and the upcoming book Eat Complete. This feel-good recipe uses seven of his favorite mood-boosting ingredients.
Bring on The Fuzzy Animals
Research suggests that animal ownership or even, say, watching Maru the cat on YouTube or perusing pet photos on Instagram (#catsinboxes and #dogsinhats, anyone?) can help brighten your outlook. And not to worry if you get caught gushing over animal pics while you’re at work: A Japanese study reveals that this kind of slacking off could actually make you better at your job. Cute overload helps: Participants’ performance was boosted 44 percent after viewing images of puppies and kittens.
Brighten Your Day
The most happiness-inspiring colors are ones you remember fondly from childhood, according to Naz Kaya-Erdal, who researched color and design as an art professor at University of Georgia. In her study, yellow, green and blue received the most “happy” votes, with respondents citing good memories. (Think of your own happy memories of the arrival of a yellow school bus, the green of parks and playgrounds, the blue of a backyard wading pool.) Research also shows that bright, saturated colors are more happy-making than muted hues. You could paint your living room lemon yellow or dress head to toe in spring green, but before you go there, why not try a small but eye-catching pop with one of these cute finds?
You’ll happily make time for breakfast if it involves using this vibrant Oster 2-Slice Toaster. $30, target.com
Get inspired to stick to your busy schedule with the cheerful, easy-to-read Alistair Round Wall Clock. $65, dotandbo.com
Whether you’re coming or going, a Hello Coir Doormat will put pep in your step. $28, overstock.com
Plant Some Seeds
Backyard farmers: The hours you spend in the garden have even bigger payoffs than scrumptious produce—growing and harvesting your own food is associated with happiness. According to a paper published in Ecological Economics, not only is the physical activity of gardening beneficial, but so is spending time outdoors. Plus, it feels great to eat and share the food that you grew! It may be cold out, but now’s the time to plan your spring and summer gardens.
Set up Your Pals
No wonder Fiddler on the Roof ’s Yente was so cheerful: Researchers have proven that playing matchmaker improves your well-being, especially if you do it a lot. And it’s not only making love matches that inspires warm feelings: Setting people up for friendships and business opportunities can have similarly satisfying results. “One of the reasons why we engage in matchmaking is to close gaps in our social groups,” explains Lalin Anik, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, who co-authored a study on the topic. “If I have two close friends, it makes my life easier if they know one another— and even better, if they like each other!—as my social circle becomes more complete.” So gather a group of friends or colleagues together and see if you can spark some connections. No one needs to know you’re doing it for your own good!
Turn up Your Music
European scientists have identified a list of songs that are high on the feel-good charts. One of the key components could be a fast tempo. (Upbeat tempo equals upbeat mood!)
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
“Dancing Queen” by Abba
“Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys
“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
“I’m a Believer” by the Monkees
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves
To get more tips for happiness, click here.