Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California has done some interesting research comparing people who describe themselves as happy or unhappy. She found that 40 per cent of our happiness is within our power to change! Lyubomirsky identified 12 scientifically robust ways in which we act and think that naturally enhance happiness.  

 1) Express gratitude. 

 2) Cultivate optimism: Lyubomirsky suggests imagining a future in which everything has turned out the way you want it and to write it down. 

 3) Avoid obsessing over things or paying too much attention to what others are doing. 

 4) Practise acts of kindness – more than you’re used to. 

 5) Make time for friends; be supportive and loyal. 

 6) Develop coping strategies: Lyubomirsky suggests writing down upsetting feelings and trying to see that traumatic events often make us stronger. If it is difficult to develop coping strategies alone seek some professional guidance

 7) Learn to forgive. 

 8) Immerse yourself in activities and be open to new ones. 

 9) Savour life’s pleasures: Lyubomirsky gives the example of lingering over something you enjoy to eat rather than mindlessly consuming it. 

 10) Work towards meaningful goals. 

 11) Practise religion or spirituality. 

 12) Exercise. 

 Of course not every one of these suggestions suits everybody and none of them produce immediate results, but the research does show that by pursuing these things happiness is likely to increase.  

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