The start of a new year is a time for reflection. We wonder what the new year will bring and what we will do differently. And we ask ourselves what we could be doing to make ourselves happier. It’s a million dollar question. But true happiness could be closer to hand than you think. Here are five surprising things to do to have a happier life:
Find A Career Where You Can Earn $75,000 a Year . Money doesn’t buy happiness, right? Almost. Vast wealth usually comes with an annoyingly demanding job and poor work-life balance. Whilst a low salary means stresses and worries about making ends meet.
But a study conducted by Princeton researchers found that $75,000 a year gives you the optimum happiness for your cash. Up to this point reported levels of contentment rise. Yet after this point, they plateau. So don’t run yourself into the ground in search of the big bucks. A much smaller amount of money could buy you the happiness you seek.
Buy Experiences, Not Material Goods . We’re all constantly told that a new item of clothing or the latest gadget or a pair of designer sunglasses will make us happy. Buying material things does make us happy in the short term. But research conducted at Cornell University found that this happiness soon wanes as we take our new goods for granted.
In contrast, spending your money on an experience – a holiday, a concert or that art class you’ve had your eye on – has been proven to make you happier. You’re happier with the purchase as you anticipate the experience. And you’re happier after the experience when you have lots of fond memories to look back on.
Eat Right. What we put into our bodies has a huge effect on the way we feel. We may feel that a bar of chocolate or a bag of chips or a burger from a fast food chain will make us feel happier than a green salad. But this just isn’t the case.
Australian scientists have found a link between eating increased amounts of fruit and vegetables and increased happiness. So replace those carb and calorie-heavy foods with home-cooked meals and healthy snacks to give your mood and your fitness a boost.
Think About Death . We usually avoid thinking about death. Thinking of our own mortality or that of our loved ones isn’t a particularly comforting topic. And you’d never expect it to make you happier. However, research suggests it could do just that.
One experiment had participants walk past a cemetery. They were then 40% more likely to help a man who “accidentally” dropped his notebook on the ground as they walked by a little later. The group was kinder and more considerate, presumably because they felt the need to demonstrate these qualities while they still could.
Watch A Sad Movie Watching a sad movie can actually make you feel more positive about your own life. Researchers puzzled by the appeal of tear-jerker movies sat a group of people in front of the 2007 film Atonement. For those who haven’t seen the film, let’s just say that it’s definitely not a barrel of laughs.
Participants rated their level of happiness before, during and after watching the movie. The findings showed that they actually felt more contentment with their lives and relationships by the time the credits rolled. Subconsciously they’d compared their own experiences favorably with those on screen and were counting their blessings.
We all spend our lives searching for happiness. We look for it in our careers, our relationships, and our hobbies. But we should all remember, as research has shown, that it’s also possible to find happiness in the unlikeliest of places.
Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about traveling, education, and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Bizset.com – an online resource for relevant business information.