Proven Tips for boosting Happiness

I wrote this for the Times Newspaper

It’s the little things that count – 5 things to boost everyday wellbeing

Try incorporating these research based tips into your everyday life by adding one today and then one each Friday for the next 4 weeks.

1. Write a gratitude diary

This is a favourite of  Dr Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement.  He asked participants to write down “three good things in life” once a week.   After a month, they noticed that they were happier and less depressed. They continued to report feeling happier three and six months later.  Keep a diary by your bed and before you go to sleep at least once a week write down three things in your life that you are grateful for.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others

It may look that others are better off from the outside but do you really know what even your closest friends and family are thinking, feeling or hiding?  Every time you find yourself wishing you had the bag/baby/husband/house that another has, stop that train of thought as you simply don’t know what they have had to go through to get them.  Instead recall the last entry in your gratitude diary.

3. Do a good deed a day

Research from the Random Acts of Kindness foundation shows that a good deed a day – give a stranger directions, donate used books to a library or talk with a homeless person  – relieves stress and improves your overall mental health.  Try doing five acts a week for full effect.

4. Set achievable goals

We all say “some day I will…” and then never do it.  And then we beat ourselves up for not doing it.  It’s far better to make small positive changes in your life than big ones you will never do.  Set one for today – I will finish my CV – then congratulate and reward yourself this evening when you achieve the goal.

5. Write that overdue thank you letter

We all have someone we owe a big thank you to.  Write the letter and then go and read it out loud to them.  This also comes from research done by Seligman who found that people who did this are measurably happier for more than a month.

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