Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity. It can boost immunity and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It’s a source of social bonding and helps to reduce conflict and cushion social stress. When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more. So go ahead — indulge in those silly YouTube videos, repeat dumb jokes, tune in to your favorite comedians, and generally relish any chance for laughter.
Research suggests that spending money on an experience brings more happiness than buying a possession, so instead of buying that new shirt or piece of jewelry, use money to plan a party, go to a concert, or visit a new neighborhood or a new city.
Novelty and challenge serve as important engines of happiness; we’re happiest when we have new experiences. Even small steps, such as going to new restaurants or seeing different sets of friends, can give us a boost. In fact, positive events make us happier when they’re not predictable, because the surprise makes the experience more intense.
“When one loves, one does not calculate.”
— St. Thérèse of Lisieux
- The quickest way to progress from A to B is not to work the hardest.
- It’s easier to prevent pain than to squelch it (literally and figuratively).
- Where you start makes a big difference in where you end up.
If you start the morning in a harried, angry, or frustrated mood, it’s hard to recover your happiness — so it’s very helpful to try to keep the first hour of your day happy and serene.
- Get enough sleep! It can be tempting to stay up late, but being overtired makes the morning much tougher.
- Sing. As goofy as it sounds, try to sing in the morning. It’s hard to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood at the same time.
- Get organized the night before. Whatever you need for the next day, get it ready the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning.
For many of us, it’s easy to get into a music rut, where we listen to old favorites instead of trying new possibilities. Do a little research, and try to identify some music that sounds like something you’d like — then spend some time listening to it. It can take awhile to warm up to a new sound, but it’s energizing and fun to discover a new source of pleasure.
“A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”
— Eugene Delacroix
Bored? Try these strategies:
- Put the word “meditation” after the activity that’s boring you. If you’re standing in a slow line at the drugstore, you’re doing “Waiting in line meditation.”
- Take the perspective of a journalist or scientist. Really study what’s around you — who’s riding this bus? What can be learned about the other people in this waiting room, simply by looking at them?
- Take your time. You may be bored because you’re trying to rush through a task that you don’t really understand. Slow down.
- Most important: always have something good to read!