There is no better time than now to be thinking about making wise choices to ensure your own happiness.
Here are seven habits of the happiest people -- all solidly grounded in research.
1. They choose kindness.
While most bosses don't see the upside of kindness making any business impact, the evidence proves otherwise. Research by Jonathan Haidt at New York University suggests that when a co-worker watches other co-workers help each other, it heightens a sense of well-being in that person. This is something Haidt calls "elevation." And when we feel elevated by seeing an act of kindness, we are more likely to behave with kindness. In turn, kindness begets kindness and improves collaboration and productivity across teams.
2. They practice forgiveness.
Forgiveness allows you to look at your mistakes as a part of life which can provide awesome learning experiences and help you grow as a result. Research shows that forgiveness can help you let go and move on from upsetting situations more easily so you can enjoy life to the full. It literally lightens you up.
3. They are naturally curious.
Several studies suggest that curious people have better relationships, connect better, and enjoy socializing more. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals that display curiosity.
4. They express gratitude.
Several research studies indicate that a deep sense of gratitude can increase happiness levels by up to 25 percent, and help reduce anxiety and depression. The evidence also shows that grateful people are more resilient and sleep better. To get started with cultivating gratitude, try this two-minute written exercise in the morning.
5. They are generous.
In one study of more than 600 Americans, "happiness was predicted by the amount of money they gave away: The more they invested in others, the happier they were." Science also confirms that giving is good for our health and evokes gratitude. One Harvard Business School report even concluded that the emotional rewards are the greatest when our generosity is connected to others
6. They exercise patience.
In one 2012 study, researchers found that people exhibiting the rare trait of patience made more progress toward their goals and were more satisfied when they achieved them (particularly if those goals were difficult) compared with less patient people. Other research also found that patient people tend to experience less depression and negative emotions and can cope better with stressful situations. Additionally, they feel more gratitude, more connection to others, and experience a greater sense of abundance.
7. They keep a gratitude journal.
Science says you can literally train your brain to be happy and optimistic if you journal three things daily for which you are grateful, and you do it for 21 days in a row. According to the research, when you raise your level of positivity your brain performs significantly better than at negative, neutral, or stressed, including:
- Productivity rose by 31 percent
- Sales increased by 37 percent
- The likelihood of promotion rose by 40 percent