Whether you’re going through a breakup, a mid-life crisis or you’re simply stuck in a rut, you may be searching for answers on the eternal quest to happiness. When giving yourself a pep talk just isn’t enough, try these scientifically proven methods to reach happiness—no matter where you are in life.
We’ve all heard this phrase before, but did you know that it actually works? Amy Cuddy, an American social psychologist, author and lecturer shared her research into the phenomenon of faking it in her 2012 TED Talk. Cuddy says, “We know that our minds change our bodies, but do we know if our bodies change our minds?” According to her research, with just a few simple mind and body adjustments, you can completely change your mood.
Because our minds and bodies are connected, our inner emotions are often exuded by the way we carry ourselves on the outside. Hunching, crossing the arms and slouching are nonverbal cues that showcase sadness or a lack of confidence. On the other hand, standing tall, expanding the body and holding the hands at the hips are all generally used when we feel confident, powerful or happy.
Cuddy suggests that by faking or pretending “power poses,” we can trick ourselves into being happier, more confident people. She continues by stating, “tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. Just two minutes of these poses can change the way you feel.” Changing your body language and even putting a smile on your face for just a few minutes at a time tells your brain that you are feeling happy. You can fake it enough until you become it.
Yoga is for more than just strutting around in your favorite stretchy leggings. Practicing yoga is good for the mind, body and soul. This meditative workout is one of the best things that we stressed-out Americans can do for our happiness. Even though sitting still on a mat for an hour may seem like pure torture in our fast-paced society, it can reap many benefits for your overall well-being.
According to a study on the effects of yoga on mood conducted by Boston University, yoga can actually increase the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric levels. What does that mean? Gamma-aminobutyric acids tell your brain to regulate anxiety. Studies have shown that in just a single yoga class, you can start lowering levels of anxiety and depression.
Not only can yoga help with your inner wellness, but it can also help you get bright, glowing skin. Sheila Jalalat, MD states that many skin problems, such as acne and psoriasis, can be caused or worsened by stress. Because yoga has been shown to assist in reducing depression and anxiety, it can also have a positive effect on your skin concerns as well.
Planning a trip is another great way to help you achieve happiness. Vacations are your chance to explore a new place, disconnect from daily stressors and learn more about yourself. In March 2010, the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life conducted a study relating happiness and vacationing. They found that the simple act of planning a trip boosted happiness for eight weeks.
Why? Planning a trip is the perfect way to escape your daily stresses. Having a plan set in place, no matter how far in the future, will give you something to look forward to and be excited about. So, go ahead—put those vacation days to good use and treat yourself to the vacation of your dreams.
In some cases, we are unhappy because we are living in our heads. Whether you are hyper-focused on your career, relationships or what’s to come in the future, you may want to consider practicing mindfulness. Rather than spinning yourself into a downward spiral of panic attacks, keep calm and just be. “Mindfulness helps us take control of our own emotional experiences,” says Tristan Coopersmith, licensed psychotherapist and Chief Inspirologist of Life Lab wellness center. “A peaceful mind is a less depressed and anxious mind—and, instead, is a confident, patient, tolerant, vital, happy one.”
Dr. Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, a psychologist who treats patients virtually via the app LiveHealth Online says, “Try to go easy on yourselves as you attempt to figure this all out. Begin practicing mindfulness now so that you make living in the moment a habit, not a chore.” Finding the key to happiness is not something that happens overnight—and it’s not the same for everyone. Finding what happiness means to you takes time and effort. Give yourself the time you need to figure it out on your own terms.