Where I Can Find Happiness: 9 Ways to Achieve Happiness According to Scientists

Being happy; a universal longing whose mechanisms have tried to understand philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, economists… Although the pursuit of happiness is as old as humanity itself, its scientific study (not religious nor philosophical) is not so old. Research on the subject, led by the incredible advance of neuroscience, has multiplied in recent decades. Practically all sciences have studied what makes us happy and what does not, and the answers are as varied as the amount of research that has been done on the subject. These are nine of the most solid conclusions reached by scientists.

1. Have many friends

Contact with our friends has a decisive influence on our psychological well-being, something that everyone who has lost a friend has seen at one time or another and could even increase our longevity. But how many friends should we have to be happy? People with fewer than 5 friends have only a 40% chance of being happy. This is the question that Nottingham University psychologist Richard Tunney, who interviewed more than 17,000 people to see how happiness is directly related to satisfaction, tried to answer. In his opinion, people who are very satisfied with their lives have twice the number of friends as very dissatisfied people. Although it is difficult to assess these issues quantitatively, Tunney claims that people with fewer than five friends have only a 40% chance of being happy. Only after 10 friends are people more likely to be happy than unhappy. A study by sociologist Ruut Veenhoven concluded that the countries where people are most comfortable are those with the most significant number of associations. Denmark, the country where there are more happy people, according to the researcher, is also the one with the highest percentage of people who participate in collective activities, 92%. This type of social activity reduces the number of people who are alone and increases the number of friendships in the population.

2. Write down the good things that have happened to you every day

Numerous studies have attested that gratitude is the aspect of our character most strongly associated with life satisfaction and all the good things that derive from it, including happiness. According to Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, the simplest way to experience gratitude is to write three good things that have happened to you daily. The researcher proved in an experiment that people who established this routine were happier than those who did not. A practice recommended by other studies. You can also find more different essays about the benefits of writing at the essay service WowEssays.

3. Avoid routine: buy experiences

People who live more adventures are not afraid to try new experiences and avoid routine are generally happier than people who do the same thing daily. According to Ryan Howell, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, people who spend a higher percentage of their income on buying experiences (trips, dinners, leisure…), and a lower rate on acquiring material objects, are noticeably happier.

4. Anticipate your happiness

According to several studies, happiness increases in our lives if we have in mind to live experiences that we know will provide it, even if we are not enjoying them at that moment. People are happier at work when they know that there is little time left for vacations, and on Friday, we are more comfortable than on Monday if we have a good weekend ahead of us. In his book (Stumbling on Happiness, Vintage, 2007) and essays online Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard University, delves into the concept of pleasure forecasting, which, he says, can allow us to squeeze twice as much out of situations that make us happy. In one experiment, a group of people was invited to dine at a fine French restaurant. They were given a choice of when to eat. The people who delayed dinner the longest were the ones who reported the greatest happiness because they not only enjoyed the evening, they also wanted to think about how much fun they were going to have with nice champagne and a large portion of oysters.

5. Look for love

Love significantly impacts our happiness, which has been proven in hundreds of studies. Statistically, people who are in a relationship are, on average, happier than those who do not have a partner. One of the main conclusions reached by the Grant Study was that love is fundamental to our happiness. This ambitious project was developed over seven decades and has been one of the essential references in research on personal happiness. George Valliant, who began to take the reins of the study in 1966, has just published a book on its conclusions and is clear about it: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars spent on the Grant Project point to a single decision that can be reduced to five words: happiness is love. 

6. Smile

In 1989, Polish-born American psychologist Robert Zajoncdirected one of the first studies on how facial expressions can influence our psyche. The researcher subjected a group of volunteers to a test in which they had to emit various phonetic sounds: when people pronounced i (the English “e”), whose facial expression is similar to that of a smile, they felt better than when they pronounced a “u”. After testing the effect of smiling in other situations, such as in front of a mirror or through photographs, Zajonc concluded that facial expressions have a cause-effect relationship with certain brain activities related to happiness. In short, if we smile, even if our mood is not predisposed to it, we will be somewhat happier. Zajonc’s ideas have been disputed, but even though more than twenty years have passed, many researchers still defend his hypothesis.

7. Look for bluish environments

According to a study by the University of Sussex, blue is the color that transmits the most tranquility and the one that makes us happier, both men and women. The researchers reached this conclusion after measuring brain activity, blood pressure, and sweating levels in a group of volunteers who were subjected to environments of different colors and lighting levels. Purple had similar effects to blue in women but not in men. Surrounding ourselves with more colors in our lives may make us happier. Researchers believe that the positive results of blue are evolutionary, as our ancestors linked the color of the evening sky with the feeling of a day well spent (in which they had not died) and the prospect of a good night’s sleep. According to Smith, simply surrounding ourselves with more colors in our lives, not just blue, can make us happier. Something especially helpful in winter, when darkness removes shades from our lives. Since he did the study, he started wearing colorful socks.

8. Pursue life goals

The neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, has found through various studies that working hard to achieve a goal, and making progress in achieving it, activates positive emotions and, more importantly, suppresses negative ones, such as fear or depression. In his opinion, we can all change for the better since our brain is prepared for this thanks to neuronal plasticity, a field in which Davidson is one of the world’s leading specialists.

9. Be generous

According to Stanford University psychologist Emma Seppala, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, happiness does not lie so much in having or in improving social and work status but in giving. That is, being compassionate and generous with others increases levels of well-being in all areas of life. Altruism activates the brain regions that provoke pleasure, prevent stress, anxiety, and depression, improve our relationships, and even increase our life expectancy.