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The pursuit of happiness

The pursuit of happiness

There are plenty of reasons to seek happiness. Research has shown that arthritis patients who have a “positive affect” are able to take more daily steps than their unhappy counterparts. Merry people tend to avoid getting sick during flu season, and they even live longer. Plus, experiencing joy just feels good.

So, here are 46 small, surprising ways to feel happier.

Keep a diary – and re-read it from time to time

Keep a diary – and re-read it from time to time
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According to a 2014 study in Psychological Science, writing in a journal can make people happy, even if the entries are mundane. We tend to forget the little things in life that bring us pleasure, but documenting those ordinary moments allows us to rediscover them.

Figure out your purpose

Figure out your purpose
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“This is about having some kind of goal or principle that orients your life and moves you into the future,” says journalist and author Emily Esfahani Smith. It could be a big goal, like getting involved in politics, or a more personal option, like being a good parent. Either way, it should be one that motivates you and organises the activities of your day around something greater than yourself.

Forgive (even if you can’t forget)

Forgive (even if you can’t forget)
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Holding a grudge is stressful and can make you feel angry, sad, anxious and out of control. But forgiving someone who has hurt you doesn’t cause negative emotions at all.

Here are some proven ways to forgive anyone for anything.

Read every day

Read every day
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According to Neil Pasricha, the author of seven books on happiness (including the upcoming You Are Awesome), reading 20 pages of a novel every day will make you happier. “Literary fiction is shown to increase brain activity and improve our capacity for empathy, compassion and understanding,” he says. He recommends paper books to reduce screen time.

See negative emotions as an opportunity

See negative emotions as an opportunity
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“It’s important to acknowledge that unhappiness is part of the human experience,” says Meik Wiking, the author of several books on happiness, including the upcoming The Art of Making Memories. “We will struggle; we will be heartbroken; we will experience setbacks – overcoming them is what makes us both human and happy.”

Here are 10 more ways to be happier without even trying. 

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Rethink your approach to stress

Rethink your approach to stress
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Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University and the author of The Upside of Stress, says thinking about anxiety-inducing situations as challenges instead of threats can minimise the negative impact of stress on your health and reduce your risk of, for instance, cardiovascular disease.

Discover 36 ways to make managing stress easier. 

Take up a hobby

Take up a hobby
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But here’s the catch: it has to be something you’re not good at – say, stand-up comedy, making chocolate or maybe balloon animals? That’s because we’re happier when we’re learning.

Focus on relationships

Focus on relationships
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According to Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist, professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, strong relationships are key to happiness. Whether they’re romantic partners, friends, children or co-workers, other people help “remind us of what’s important in life and help us weather the ups and downs of personal and political problems,” he says. “They usually cannot solve these problems, but they can provide an emotional buffer that softens the impact of real-world issues.”

Here are 12 simple ways to make friends as an adult. 

Act extroverted – even if you’re not

Act extroverted – even if you’re not
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“We found that when introverted people reported that they were acting outgoing, those tended to be their happier moments,” says John Zelenski, a psychology professor. That means talking to strangers on the bus or chatting with a barista can boost people’s happiness, even if they’re naturally solitary types.

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