Science is a ruthless mistress. It works in a nebulous world where theories are facts and even gravity might not actually be gravity at any given time. It confuses most of us, leaving us to trust people who wear white coats for no discernible reason, and sometimes annoys us by being so fickle that we can’t follow it. But it yields tangible solutions to problems, however we may feel about it at times, and the ability to suss out newer, better, faster ways of doing things all while understanding our world one tiny step at a time is all worth it. Eventually.
Since most of us feel that science hasn’t done much of anything for us lately, other than tell us about melting polar ice caps, smash particles together really, really, super fast, and make lab-grown meat that is both frightening and delicious, we thought it was time to put it to good use.
The handy thing about scientific inquiry is it brings out a lot of unusual results, such as learning about our own brains to the point that we can find out certain things that actually increase our pleasure sensations, making us happier. To that effect, here’s 16 that research has proven to enhance our human experience and make us happier.
What We Mean By Happy
Happiness in this case is measured two primary ways: The first being when people report that they are happy. While you can’t trust any of the people most of the time, when enough meat sacks independently claim that a specific things makes them happy, or increases their joy and life satisfaction, that’s an indicator that it will work for others.
The second way to determine happiness is more objective. By examining a person’s body while they experience something, it’s possible to determine their level of pleasure. Pupils will dilate, skin temperature will rise, breathing will become shallower, they may laugh, smile, or even show on an fMRI that the pleasure centers of their brain have been stimulated. Assuming they’re laying in an fMRI machine at the time.
Though a combination of these methods and years of research, the scientific community have stumbled onto several things that make many people happy, either as they claim, as shown by their body, or both. They might not be fool proof, but they’re a step in the right direction.
The sweet milk of the cocoa bean has a special siren’s wail that both tastes delicious, and has been shown to lower blood pressure and enhance mood though putting natural stimulants into your body that ease stress, at least for a while. Just don’t overdo it, or you’re likely to add unwanted weight and cause long-term health issues from excessive indulgence.
Get a partner or spend some time experiencing yourself. Sexuality bombards our system with all-natural feel-good drugs that have been shown to keep our mood elevated for up to 24 hours after a mattress romp. So, “getting laid” can actually be helpful in reducing stress. Though never suggest to anyone that they should get carnal to cure their distress. It’s an under-evolved thing to say.
We need vitamin D from sunlight to help us stay healthy, and the rich oxygenated air from plants is good for giving our body cleaner stuff to breathe. Get a good helping of these things and you’re providing the tools to help your body find a natural state, which leads to greater contentment and serenity.
Music speaks beyond mere words and strikes resonant chords within us. Often it doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re listening to, so long as you enjoy it, it elevates your sense of well-being. You can also use a binaural musical arrangement which will help align your brainwaves into a more natural state.
The time we spend “winding down” with screens and books would be better used hitting the rack. Tacking on an hour more of sleep a night can work magic on our system, as it gives our bodies more time to replenish and rejuvenate. Even if you don’t sleep, take the time to lay down and let your subconscious do its work as you meditate, pray, or just stare at the ceiling.
Before you load up your kill machine and head out to dispense some well-deserved justice, you must consider what type of revenge is actually helpful. By creating voodoo dolls or similar harmless methods of expressing anger or disappointment – such as having a revenge fantasy session with some friends over a couple of drinks – blows off steam. Just make sure you don’t actually do any real harm, but perhaps a prank or two is in order…
See a Show
Don’t watch a show on another glowing box. Go out among your peers and share in an experience together. Socializing can be stressful, but a stage play, a religious service, a concert in the park, or anything where you can bump elbows with the riffraff helps you create a feeling of community, which is strengthening and joy-inducing.
Do Something Nice
It can be tough to be kind when we’re unhappy, but learning about the woes of another can give us a sense of purpose and perspective, and doing something to make their day brighter cheers us up, too.
Merely the act of trying to be grateful has been shown to add more happiness to our plate. Don’t worry if you’re just going through the motions. Studies say that’s all you need to do.
Fighting with our feelings makes them worse, not better. By letting our pain and rage and frustration out in healthy ways, or simply sitting quietly and feeling badly often gets us through tough patches faster than if we try to ignore them. Give your emotions their time in the sun and they’re less likely to hide in the dark with sharp knives.
Talk It Out
The adage “pleasure shared is pleasure doubled and pain shared is pain halved” typically proves true. Tell a close friend how you feel and let them help you carry the burden. You’ll do the same for them and you’ll both be richer for it.
Grin and Laugh
Your body can follow your brain, or your brain can follow your body. When we feel badly, sadly, angry, or discontent, it reflects in our posture and bearing. By shaking yourself up with a stupid smile, a hearty laugh, or a ridiculous dance, it confuses our brain into being less miserable, because it can’t figure out why the body is being joyous when it feels so wretched.
Search for Purpose
Don’t expect to find it, but as with gratitude, if you look, you can find meaning in any number of simple things. Often the point of life is to ask “what is the point of life?” making the answer and the question the same thing.
Indulge In Animal Videos
Humans actually have a response to cute animals doing cute things. It can literally get so intense that we want to hit them, just to make the cute stop. That’s a spicy path to glee if ever there was one.
You don’t need to spend the money on a vacation, merely spend some time window shopping a beach resort, a ski holiday, or a road trip to Mardi Gras. The fantasy will sweep your cares away, even as your body wastes away in your office, a tattered “Hang in there!” kitten poster your only friend.