Here's how to tell if you're really happy — and some tips to get you there
Happiness is something that we all crave in our lives, but it can seem so elusive at times. Contrary to how it may feel when everything is going wrong, we do actually have control over our own happiness — 40% control according to some studies! So, if you're not happy now, you can definitely get there.
Answer these true or false questions to get a sense of how happy you really are.
1. I know who I am and I like myself. True or false?
This is very important and is one of the hardest things to do. Real happiness comes from being faithful to your true self. The better you know yourself, what you love, what inspires you, your strengths AND your weaknesses, the happier you will be.
2. I regularly socialize with my friends for at least 6 hours per week. True or false?
One of the strongest predictors of happiness is friendship. If you have a solid friend group that you spend time with regularly — at least 6 hours a week — you are 12 times more likely to feel joy as opposed to stress and anxiety.
3. I acknowledge what I'm grateful for every day. True or false?
Gratitude and happiness go hand in hand. Research shows that the more you express gratitude, the happier you will be. One study even showed that you can actually re-program your brain to be happy by recognizing all the good things in your life. For 21 days, a group of pessimists were asked to write down 3 things they were grateful for and at the end of the 3 weeks they were shown to be more optimistic. So, if you don't already have one, start keeping a journal!
4. I have sex at least once a week. True or false?
Having sex is proven to make people happy and even just doing it once a week can make you 44% more happy than those who don't have it on the regular! Researchers say that the best sex is with someone you love, so those in a romantic relationship enjoy the greatest effects. Hooking up with a person you just met can make you feel good, but your happiness levels go up when you get it on with someone you know a bit better. If you're not in a relationship, or prefer being alone, getting it on solo is also good for your overall happiness!
5. I often try to learn new activities, and have done so within the last 3 months. True or false?
There's joy in mastering a new skill or learning about new places. Researchers at Winston-Salem State University found that those who took part in a number of activities and experiences were more likely to hold on to positive emotions — and minimize negative ones — than those who didn't get out as much.
6. I am not generally an impulse buyer. True or false?
Impulse buying is actually related to anxiety and unhappiness, so curbing it could help improve your psychological well-being! If you really want to increase your happiness, it's better to buy something for someone else. Researchers found that spending money on others or giving to charity will put a bigger smile on your face.
7. I always make my bed in the morning. True or false?
In a survey of 68,000 people, 71% of bed-makers considered themselves to be happy. An organized environment can positively impact our mental state, and doing little things like making your bed will give you a sense of accomplishment at the very start of the day! Bed-makers are also shown to be more productive — they are more likely to own a home, like their jobs and exercise regularly.
8. I've never held a grudge against anyone in my life. True or false?
Happy people don't hold onto resentments and grudges because they know there's no point to it. Forgiveness is also key when it comes to happiness. Researchers from Stanford University have been able to show that being able to forgive is a big predictor of happiness, as forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment.
9. I have enough money to meet my basic needs. True or false?
Those who are able to afford food, shelter, and clothing are happier people than those who can't. But, there's a limit on how much happiness money can buy, after having your basic needs met. Additional money does not have an impact on your level of happiness.
10. I enjoy spending at least 20 minutes outdoors a day. True or false?
The key to this one is *enjoying* time outside. It's not just about waiting for the bus or speed-walking to work — it's taking time to smell the roses. Scientists say that spending 20 minutes outside boosts levels of serotonin, the "feel good" neurotransmitter, in the brain. In the winter time, when it can be hard to enjoy yourself outdoors, you can bring nature inside to help lift your mood. A Rutgers University study shows that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness!
The more times you answered 'true', the happier you are. But, if you found yourself with a few more 'false' answers then you'd like, here are some tips on how to get you happy:
Use your sense of smell
The key to happiness can be right under your nose — literally! Here are a few scents that are proven to boost your mood:
Grapefruit is a citrus scent, and anything with citrus notes will definitely perk up your mood. Molecules of citrus smells travel to the part in your brain where stress and anxiety originate and calm you down.
Pine reminds a lot of people of the holidays, and that scent can cheer you up! A study in Japan found that pine does have a positive effect on your mood. Taking a stroll through a pine-filled forest will boost your mood more than just a regular walk in the woods.
Most fragrance research ranks vanilla as the top scent that makes people feel happiness. Some suggest that it has to do with memories of childhood.
Get some exercise
Skipping helps with our happiness because we remember that time on the playground as kids It's a great activity to do on your own or in a group. Even just 5 minutes of physical activity can help, which is why jumping rope can be a great way to give yourself a quick boost.
Laugh a little
Laughter is the best medicine, and it doesn't even have to be genuine to have a positive effect! By letting out a chuckle, you're also improving your breathing and boosting your immune system!