Bestselling author and Queen’s Alumni Neil Pasricha (Comm'02) has complied a list of 7 ways to be happy in his 2016 book, “The Happiness Equation.”
We are pleased to share this summary of his 7 simple ways to improve your happiness right now!
1. Three Walks
Get active now! Half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness according to research at Pennsylvania State. Work published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology showed that more physically active people have higher feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, and these feelings are higher on days they are active. There are other studies that support this work, and even show how exercise can be an effective treatment option for mood disorders.
2. The 20-minute replay
Write a short journal entry about a positive experience for 20 minutes each day to improve your happiness. Believe it or not, your brain sends you back and you relive the experience as you write and re-read the experience. As Neil Pasricha states, remembering the what we like about the people and experiences in our lives makes us happier.
3. Random Acts of Kindness
Pay it forward, buy someone a coffee, do the dishes when it's not your turn, pick up some extra fruit for your housemates study break... whatever it is that you choose, a random act of kindness can improve your happiness. Studies from a leading positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky (author of The How of Happiness) showed that when students at Stanford University performed five random acts of kindness over a week over a week, they were happier than a control group. Another leading researcher, Martin Seligman says that "scientists have found that doing a kindess produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested" (Seligman, published in his book Flourish)
4. A Complete Unplug
Ok, we know this is a tough one! We depend on our tech for so much, and it's so connected to our lives as students. But taking some time to renew and get recharged is a wonderful way to increase your productivity and happiness. Feeling like you need some help to be successful with your unplug - head to the Student Academic Success Services "Healthy Tech" page, and specifically the list of tools to help you stay focused.
5. Hit Flow
Have you heard about the concept of FLOW yet? Even if you don't know the research or definition, you probably know the feeling. "Getting into your groove," "Being in the zone," - it's a state where you are completed absorbed in what you are doing - you are being challenged and demonstrating skill. So no, Netflix doesn't count, but playing a game, doing a sport, playing music all do! Much of the original research on flow is by a man who loves the pursuit of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Check out his TED talk to learn more.
6. 2-Minute Meditations
Taking a short 2 minutes to practice meditation can help your brain increase compassion and self-awareness and decrease stress, according to research published from Massachusetts General Hospital. Want some help to get started on a simple meditation or mindfullness practice? The Ban Righ Center on Bader lane runs weekly free drop-in sessions. Learn more here.
7. Five Gratitudes
This is pretty straightforward - grab a writing utensil, open a note on your phone, find a napkin... whatever your preference, just take the time to write down three to five things that you are grateful for in the past week. As Neil states in The Happiness Equation, "If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy." (p 23). If you want a small Gratitude Journal (free) to begin this practice, stop by Health Promotion at 140 Stuart St to pick one up!
So that's the list. We hope you find something on here that helps you, and of course you can read "The Happiness Equation" to get all the good details that Neil Pasricha shares about his own search for meaning and happiness and a great summary of lots of research on positive mental health!