You're either naturally happy or not.
It was long believed that most people are hardwired to be either naturally happy or not, regardless of what happens in their lives. But this view has changed in recent years as researchers learn more about the science of happiness.
Which country ranks No. 1 in life satisfaction?
From an in-depth money, happiness, and satisfaction study done in 2012, Denmark was at the top in life satisfaction and work-life balance, and 17th in income. By comparison, the United States ranks No. 1 in income but ranked 12th in life satisfaction and 29th in work-life balance.
Negative emotions are more powerful than positive emotions.
Although some studies do show that negative emotions are more powerful than positive ones right when they are happening -- for instance, you’re more likely to be upset about losing $3 than winning $3 -- positive emotions win out over time.
In general, happy people do NOT:
- Express gratitude, forgiveness, and kindness
- Get regular exercise, sexual activity, and good sleep
- Have higher incomes or higher intellect than most
- Savor joy and practice optimism and self-actualization
There is no evidence to show that money buys happiness. Instead, research shows that happy people tend to: express gratitude on a regular basis; practice being optimistic; engage in frequent acts of kindness; savor joyful events, and practice forgiveness.
The happiest people in the United States live:
- In the Northeast
- In the South
- On the West Coast
- In the Midwest
There may be something to be said for Southern hospitality and sunshine. A 2009 study found that Southern states are the happiest while Eastern states like New York are at the bottom of the list.
You are more likely to be unhappy if you live in California.
Out of 51 slots, California ranks No. 46 on the happiness scale. Surprisingly, New York and California do badly in the happiness ranking. Researcher Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, says, "Many people think these states would be marvelous places to live, but the problem is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a non-fulfilling prophecy." So where is the No. 1 place brimming with happiness, you ask? Louisiana.
At what age are people happiest?
It's a fact: People are happier, less stressed, and feel better about themselves after age 50! A recent survey of more than 340,000 people showed overall feelings of well-being improve as people pass middle age. Negative emotions such as stress and anger decline after the early 20s, and people over 50 worry less than younger folks. Researchers say it may be as simple as this: With age comes increased wisdom and emotional intelligence.
Which pair of chemicals is NOT used by the body to feel good?
- Endorphins and tryptophan
- Serotonin and dopamine
- Cortisol and prolactin
- Oxytocin and vasopressin
In terms of happiness, a boost in your mood is linked to the release of serotonin, endorphins -- your body’s "feel good" chemicals -- and oxytocin, also known as the "love/comfort/compassion" hormone. Tryptophan helps your body make serotonin, so it’s linked to feeling good, too.
What makes people happier?
Good news for folks whose bedrooms have more activity than their bank accounts: Research shows that sex is better for your happiness than money. Overall, the happiest folks are those getting the most sex: married people, who report 30% more between-the-sheet action than single folks.
Why does music make you happy?
- It gets your mind off other things
- It causes your brain to release dopamine
- It activates both your right and left brain
Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that’s involved in pleasure. A study found that when people listened to music, their brains released more dopamine. In fact, even just thinking about listening to music caused the dopamine to start flowing. The researchers think this might explain why music -- from Beethoven’s Fifth to Adele’s "Rolling in the Deep" -- has been such a big part of human history.
Not letting yourself be sad is one of the keys to long-term happiness.
Having a positive outlook doesn't mean you never allow yourself to feel sad. "Happiness is not the absence of sadness," says David Spiegel, MD, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. It is not a stiff upper lip or the pop psychology mantra, intoning "always stay upbeat" no matter what. "Phony happiness is not good." By suppressing sadness, you suppress other, more positive emotions, as well, he says. So people who try to suppress emotions actually become more anxious and depressed.
What does more to boost your own sense of happiness?
Sure, pleasure is great and you need plenty of it, though there is more to happiness than racking up pleasurable experiences. Psychologists studying the effects of positive emotions say gratitude can boost our sense of happiness if we turn it into a conscious and regular practice. Feeling gratitude, they say, is something you do (such as expressing gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal), not something you wait for!
"Hedonophobia," "hedonism," and "hedonist" come from the Greek word for:
Hedonophobia, hedonism, and hedonist all come from the Greek word hedone, which means pleasure or delight. "Hedonism" is a philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the main aim of life, and a "hedonist" is a pleasure-seeker.
What do laughter and comedy do for the human body?
- Boost your immune system
- Help you lose weight
Some studies have found that laughter may boost infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells in the body. And when scientists at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas, they found that the people who watched dramas tended to tense up, restricting blood flow. The people who watched comedies had normal blood flow.