Humans have remarkable control over their own happiness. In her book, "The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want," psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky says a person's happiness is 50% due to genetics, 10% due to circumstances, and the remaining 40% is "within our power to change." Happiness is different for each person, which is why we've compiled dozens of different methods to help you find your inner sunshine.
Draw pictures of unhealthy food.
Studies have shown that eating high-calorie comfort foods can make your happier. The downside is this will also make you fat. As an alternative, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science in May 2013 found that simply drawing pictures of foods high in fat, like cupcakes or pizza, and foods that taste sweet, like strawberries, can also boost your mood. The positive reactions were independent of subjects' weight and hunger level.
"These results extend a growing body of biobehavioral research on the positive impact of food images on mood by showing that this impact can be applied to enhance mood when expressing food images through art," the researchers concluded.
Be both an optimist and a realist.
People who have the positive attitude of optimists paired with the rational outlook of realists tend to be more successful and happy, according to psychology researcher Sophia Chou.
That's because so-called "realistic optimists" have the perfect blend of personality types to succeed. Unlike idealists, they are willing to face challenging situations with a clear view of reality, but will use creativity and a positive outlook to try to work their way out of the problem.
Get your hands dirty.
Breathing in the smell of dirt may lift your spirits, according to a study which found that a bacteria commonly found in soil produces effects similar to antidepressant drugs.
The harmless bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, stimulated the release of serotonin in the brain after it was injected into mice. Having low levels of serotonin is what causes depression in people.
In a human test, cancer patients reported increases in their quality of life when they were treated with the bacteria.
"The findings "leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt," lead author Chris Lowry of the University of Bristol in England said in a statement.
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