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Mental Health

Studies Show Small Acts Can Increase Happiness Dramatically — Make These 4 Cheery Changes Right Now

Searching for the key to a happy life doesn’t have to be complicated or take years. In fact, making small tweaks to your lifestyle right now eventually leads to big improvements. Tweaks start small, but add up over time — helping you simplify your life, prioritize what truly matters most, and get rid of anything that doesn’t. In addition, those positive lifestyle changes will have lasting benefits for your mental health; research shows that making necessary adjustments to your lifestyle boosts feelings of joy and satisfaction. Here are four simple tips demonstrating how to increase happiness, so you can enjoy every moment that life has to offer.

Wish to increase your happiness? Get rid of excess items.

There’s something to be said for a simple life — and research backs that up. A review of more than 23 studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests that people who practice minimalism, a lifestyle that aims to reduce consumption, are more likely to experience greater well-being than those who don’t. Researchers theorize that a minimalist lifestyle helps people control their consumption and maintain psychological satisfaction. Wondering how you can adopt this mindset? Focus on meaningful investments that don’t require cash. One example of this is rearranging, rather than remodeling, your space.

Want to balance your emotions? Switch up your routine.

A diverse range of daily activities such as paid work, volunteering, and hobbies could help you develop more rich and balanced emotions, according to research published in The Journals of Gerontology. This phenomenon is called “emodiversity,” and a 2020 study analyzed how it contributes to improved well-being and emotional regulation for tourists when traveling. In the 2020 study, the researchers found that tourists experienced a range of positive and negative emotions during new experiences, which were consistently linked to better well-being.

Looking for a more meaningful life? Embrace loved ones.

In terms of a meaningful lifestyle, spending quality time with children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings matters most, according to 2021 data from the Pew Research Center. The nearly 19,000 adults surveyed said they draw the most meaning from taking pride in a loved one’s accomplishments or leading a life that creates a better world for future generations. Many respondents also noted that their families make their lives more fulfilling.

Need a mood boost? Take movement breaks.

Whether you’re working from home or simply spending more time at home, you’re probably sitting more these days — and that’s a mood buster. A 2021 study found that participants who spent more time sitting also reported more symptoms of depression. According to the researchers, the connection isn’t cause-and-effect and requires a deeper investigation. However, movement is likely a powerful mood booster. The researchers suggest adding a morning or evening stroll around the block to your daily routine. Not only could doing so improve your mood, it can also add structure to your day — another factor that’s been shown to boost well-being.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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