It might be an incredibly frustrating past-time to master, but the benefits make it worth sticking with. In research published in Depression and Anxiety, results showed the efficacy of meditative therapies in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Slipping into a meditative state can also light up the area of your noggin that controls complex thoughts and positive emotions. Some meditation can also build mental muscle in the brain's other hubs for compassion, empathy and fear, allowing you greater mastery over your emotions and helping you feel closer to others. Om-en to that.
Yep, this is meant to be about you getting happier but it turns out, giving to others makes you feel great as well. Research finds that acts of kindness, especially spontaneous, out-of-the ordinary ones, can boost happiness in the person doing the good deed. Why? Among other things (like promoting the idea of "paying if forward"), being kind promotes connection and community with others, which is one of the strongest factors in increasing happiness.
Shorten your commute
Ah the long drive home. Just what you need, eh? Whether in your car or on public transport, it sucks big time. Studies show that moving closer to work - 20 minutes away is ideal - is linked to greater happiness as more of your spare time is yours to enjoy. Not for the T2 lanes to swallow whole.
Get your sweat on.
But not for too long. In the greatest study there ever was, it turns out that even 7 minutes of exercise is beneficial for mood. Thanks Gretchen Reynolds and the New York Times for this gem! And in this study on exercise, yoga and depression found that getting sweaty demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments. So workout regularly not just for the waist line but just as importantly, the mind as well.
You don't have to be a serial cycler, hiker or exercise-junkie to get the benefits of this one: just getting back to nature is important for sustained happiness. In a study by the David Suzuki Foundation , it was confirmed that a daily dose of nature boosts happiness and wellbeing.
In other research, 10,000 Canadians and over 250 workplaces participated in the David Suzuki Foundation's Nature Challenge. The national program challenged participants to commit to getting out into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. The results? "We found that participants almost doubled their time spent outside during the month and reduced their screen time by about 4.5 hours per week," said Trent University Researcher, Dr Elizabeth Nisbet. "They reported significant increases in their sense of well-being, feeling more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity, and sleep disturbances were all reduced."
Get more sleep already
Constantly yawning from lack of sleep? There's a load of research to support the theory that lack of sleep hampers your happiness. As noted by the Woolcock Institute, insomnia symptoms extend into the daytime, affecting mood, concentration, memory and work performance. If that's not enough to make you glum, we don't know what is. Get at least 6 hours of sleep a night, and if you're having reaching this modest number, consult your GP.