3 Ways to Happiness

Below are 3 inexpensive and effective ways to increase your well-being and reduce your symptoms of depression.  By making small changes to your daily routine, your standard way of thinking and behaving can change leaving you a happier person.

1. Visualize your Best Possible Self

Visualizing your best possible self helps to reduce depression by fostering a sense of efficacy, optimism, meaning and purpose.  You can achieve this by imagining your life in the future, a future where everything that could go well has gone well. It is a future in which you have reached the realistic goals that you have set for yourself.  Once you have imagined your best possible self, commit the idea to paper to strengthen your visualization.

The effectiveness of this activity was tested in a study by King (2001). Students were asked to write about their best possible future selves for 20 minutes over 4 consecutive days. The results showed that those who had only written about their best possible selves showed greater improvements in subjective well-being compared to those writing on a neutral topic, those writing about traumatic life events and those writing about both traumatic events and their best possible future selves.  The students experienced benefits of writing about their best possible selves five months later.

2. Help Others

Research reports that helping others really does seem to make people happier and reduce symptoms of depression. Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade (2005) found that students who performed an act of kindness daily for 5 days slightly improved their well-being and those students who performed 5 acts of kindness on one day for six weeks increased their well-being by 40%!  Ideas for acts of kindness include things like writing a thank-you note, giving blood, volunteering, or helping a friend with their work.

3. Practice Gratitude

Take a few minutes to write down a list of people, places, and things that you are grateful for.  A study conducted by Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that sitting down weekly to write about five things for which participants were grateful for increased their happiness levels by 25%. Counting your blessings really does help eliminate feelings of depression.


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