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7 Simple Ways to Make Yourself Happier
Feeling blue? Use these tricks to boost your mood when the stresses of life get you down.
1. Get more sleep.
A good night's sleep can make you a happier, more upbeat person in the morning. That's because it's tough to enjoy actives when you're feeling tired and run-down. In fact, researchers from Princeton University found that getting enough shut-eye had a greater effect on daily mood than a $60,000 raise.
2. Laugh often.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Humor has long been shown to reduce stress and to help cope with grief and depression. "A good laugh exercises many muscles of the body and causes the brain to release endorphins," the feel-good chemicals in our brain that "raise both our mood and our coping abilities," according to U.S. Navy researchers.
3. Move to Costa Rica.
Pack your bags - we hope you like warm weather. Costa Rica is the happiest country on the planet, according to the Happy Planet Index, released by the New Economics Foundation. The index measures happiness based on life expectancy, overall well-being, and environmental sustainability. Costa Ricans have a higher average life expectancy than Americans and an ecological footprint one-third the size of the United States.
4. Rent instead of owning.
You might think that owning a home with ample space and a backyard leads to happier, more relaxed people. Unfortunately, the constant stresses associated with being a homeowner, like paying bills and dealing with house repairs, does not outweigh the joys of owning a home, according to a study from a real-estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Stick with renting if you're after low-anxiety living.
5. Be generous.
There's a reason "it is always better to give than to receive." Generosity can foster happiness in do-gooders, partly because it raises their self-image. In a study to measure employee morale in the workplace, for example, researchers at the Harvard Business School, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Liège found that donations to charity led to "happier and more satisfied employees" than offers of monetary rewards.
6. Eat your fruits and veggies.
A steady diet of fruit and vegetables is good for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But snacking on these nutrient-rich foods can also make people "calmer, happier, and more energetic than usual," according to Tamlin Connor, co-author of a study from New Zealand's Otago University. It's not entirely surprising, but staying fit and kicking junk-food cravings generally go hand-in-hand with positive emotions.
7. Stay off Facebook.
Facebook is fun, until it sparks user jealousy. In a study of 600 people, German researchers found that seeing friends' vacation photos or reading posts about their work successes and love lives triggered feelings of misery, envy, and loneliness. Although Facebook has been shown to help kids develop social skills, it's probably best to limit one's time on the social networking site.