People rate happiness as the most important factor in one’s life– more than material success or physical beauty. In fact, a new branch of psychology called ‘positive psychology’ focuses on what we can change in our habits and lives to increase happiness. The science of happiness is a blossoming field of study which identifies key factors to improving overall feelings of well-being.
And with good reason. Perceived happiness has been linked to physical health, including reducing inflammation, preventing cardiovascular disease and life threatening illnesses. Happy employees are more productive, and deep contentment in one’s life and mind offers more freedom in life.
There are several factors involved in your happiness level: genetics, life circumstances and personal outlook all play a role, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD. In her book ‘The How of Happiness,’ she explains genetics account for 50% of our happiness (called a ‘set point’), life circumstances take up another 10%, leaving 40% to our mindset.
That means a whopping 40% of our happiness levels are our choice. It’s a conscious decision to incorporate scientifically proven methods on how to be happy. Although it takes effort to change our habits, it is our natural state to be blissful and at peace. Below are some tried and true practices to increase happiness.
Written word is a powerful tool. By expressing your gratitude daily in a journal, you can rewire your brain and replace negative emotional language with positive language, according to a study at UC Berkeley. Our brains will always take the path most followed. Writing down everything you’re grateful for daily changes your perspective and increases happiness levels by carving new neural pathways within the mind.
Start small and move your way up. List the coffee you had this morning, sunshine, or a close family member or friend. By writing down just five to 15 things you’re already grateful for, you can improve your internal dialogue and the mind you live in. You’re only as happy as your mind, so take care of it with a daily gratitude journal practice.
Healing Touch and Reiki
We all have a biomagnetic field that we radiate up to eight feet from where we are at any given moment. This magnetic field can be measured, and scientists are just beginning to study the implications of discovering our ‘aura’, which spiritualists have been teaching about for hundreds of years. Shamini Jain, PhD, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego studies the “human biofield” and how Reiki and healing touch can benefit our biofield, or aura. After a systematic review of 66 studies on biofield healing, there is significant evidence reiki and healing touch reduces pain, fatigue and even dementia symptoms.
Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found that therapeutic touch can halt bone tumors from growing, and increase the production of healthy cells, even when the human is taken out of the equation. Cancer cells were put in a petri dish and given Reiki and pranic healing and shown to have inhibitory effects on their growth.
Besides the budding scientific evidence on increasing physical health, using Reiki, yoga, pranic healing, acupuncture and massage therapy is a sizably effective method to increase happiness levels. Science now agrees on what spiritual teachers have been preaching for years– we are more than our physical body. By taking care of your biofield with reiki and healing touch, you can make your body and mind happy at the same time.
Green exercise is physical activity in the presence of nature. A meta-analysis by the University of Essex has outlined exactly how much exercise in nature you need to improve mood and self-esteem. It shows just five minutes of movement in nature significantly increases happiness and mental health. Psychologically, you can immediately boost happiness and well-being through green exercise.
After 10 and 30 minutes, happiness levels slightly elevate, and if you can spend a full day in nature, there is another significant rise in mood and mental health. Making exercising in nature a priority is not selfish or a waste of time. To raise productivity, physical health and happiness levels, set up a plan to incorporate this habit into your happiness regimen.
Happiness is no longer an illusive secret only for a select few. With the emergence of positive psychology, studying the human biofield and healing touch, and more scientific data being collected daily on how to be happy, you can be empowered by taking small steps daily towards rewiring your brain and creating a more cohesive, blissful life.