How to feel happier using these 4 methods

iStock_000000960060XSmallI recently took part in an on-line  happiness experiment conducted by psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman.  (Head of a research unit at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.)   Over 26,000 people took part in the experiment.

At the beginning of the experiment we all had to complete a short questionnaire asking how happy we usually were.  We were then randomly split into 5 groups. 4 of the groups were assigned a popular method for boosting happiness with the 5th group being the control.

At the end of the 5 days we had to report back about how much more happier we felt than at the start of the experiment.

Here are the 4 popular happiness boosting methods used in the experiment and the first findings by Professor Wiseman.

1. Acts of Kindness (often called Random Acts of Kindness)

The idea is that each day you carry out a random act of kindness such as phoning a friend in need, picking up litter, donating to a good cause, helping someone who is struggling with luggage or a baby’s buggy.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing – sometimes the smallest gesture can really brighten up someone’s day.

2. Practicing Gratitude

Make a list of everything you have in your life to be grateful for such as, a beautiful sunset, a sunny day, a loving relationship,  the rain for the garden, enough food to eat, somewhere warm and safe to live.

3. Power of Smiling

I’ve mentioned this before in earlier posts but smiling and laughter is very therapeutic.  For the purposes of this experiment Professor Wiseman suggests that each day we smile and hold it for a few seconds.

4. Happy Memories

This is the group I was assigned to.  For one minute each day  I was to think of something that went well the day before.  It could be anything like having a lovely cup of coffee, catching the bus on time, someone telling you they love you or something going well at work.

The 5th control group had to just think about the day before – not about anything in particular – just the day before.

Interestingly, the first findings by Professor Wiseman  suggested that everyone in all the groups, including the control group reported a rise in happiness.  However, the people who followed method No. 4, “Happy Memories”  reported the greatest increase in their level of happiness.

He goes on to say that there could be other factors involved here such as the weather so it is impossible at this stage to say whether this is the most effective method.  The full results will be published at a future date and I’ll update you then.

Although I regularly practice all the methods listed here and find that they all help to lighten my mood and increase my happiness, I too found the 4th method, “Happy Memories”,  to be the most effective method for giving me a happiness boost.

Why not give these methods a go and let me know here how you get on and which one is the most effective. I would suggest you try the method for at least 5 days.

Do you have a favourite method for boosting your happiness level?  Please share it in the comments section below and help spread the happiness! 🙂

If you found this article useful and think others may benefit then please use the button below to share it on twitter, stumbleupon or your favourite social network. Many thanks.

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41bA6L1tb6L._SL160_There are more methods for boosting happiness in Professor Wiseman’s book 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot


~ by Sandstorm on August 24, 2009.

7 Responses to “How to feel happier using these 4 methods”

  1. Hi Janice,

    It will be interesting to see what the final result is. Do you know when that is likely to be?

    I keep a journal and often write down things I am grateful for. It works for me.

  2. I was aware of the test through the 59 second web site, but not the results; interim or not, thanks!
    There’s something very Zen about the lessons in all this material. Maybe just seeing/hearing such arguments framed in different wording helps reinforce the morals.

  3. Hi John, Unfortunately, I don’t know when the results will be published. We were just told that they would be published at a later date. Glad the gratitude journal works for you.I find that focusing on abundance is a very effective technique for boosting happiness.

    Hi heydave, Have you read the book 59 seconds? I found it to be a useful and practical resource. As with all self help books though it will speak to some and not others. I don’t know a lot about Zen but from the little I do know I think the practicing mindfulness is very similar. Being aware of our thoughts and actions and the impact and ripple effect they have on the world.

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  5. My younger brother’s response…
    Kenneth Sturtz
    Happiness is a long run on a cool day. How much research did that take? Almost 25 years of racing? Or (according to Kellie) a long ride (your choice of bike or horse.)[Kellie is his wife and vote on the horse, he would chose the bike]
    What Kenn and I have figured out is that my idea of happiness (long days in good library) is his idea of hell and my idea of hell (a long run on ANY kind of day) is his idea of heaven. I suppose that knowing yourself is part of mindfulness.

  6. Hi Linda, Kenn and Kellie,

    Good to hear from you all 🙂 and thank you for sharing what makes you happy.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! Yes, I agree, knowing ourselves and knowing what we value and choosing to live our lives according to those values can lead to a much more fulfilling and happier life. I was reading an article recently about someone’s perfect day. All the things that would make their day perfect filled me with dread!

  7. […] 4 Methods to help you to feel happier […]

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