What would make you happier? It may not be the answer you think. Here’s how to be more joyful today
It’s pouring with rain, the bus is late, the kids are fighting and the strap of your bag has just snapped, spilling its contents over the wet pavement.
Is now a good moment to talk about how happy you are?
In our busy and stressful lives where we juggle work, relationships and money, it can be hard to hang on to the simple things that bring us joy.
But what if we told you there was a secret to happiness?
The UK’s first Doctor of Happiness, Andy Cope, has spent more than a decade researching positive psychology and ways to make people happier.
And he’s come as close as it’s possible to get to working out what brings us joy and what does not.
Andy, who has a PhD in happiness from Loughborough University, says: ‘The modern world is so bonkers. We’re all so stressed out. We don’t have the time to be happy any more. If you want to feel happier, then you need to understand that happiness isn’t a tangible thing. It doesn’t have a shape and a form and you can’t buy it in Tesco. It’s a feeling.’
Andy says that the secret is changing the way you think.
‘If you don’t understand that,’ he says, ‘then you can never truly be happy.’
Here are Andy’s handy tips to be happy…
1 Quit your ‘wait’ problem
Many of us are guilty of putting happiness on hold. We think we’ll be happy when we get a new job, when we buy a house or when we get married.
Andy says: ‘We’re putting happiness into the wrong time zone. Why not be happy all the time? Quit your wait problem and bring happiness back to the here and now.’
2 Understand the science of hugging
We often think about happiness as a feeling that comes from inside. But our actions can impact our happiness too. Simple things like hugging a loved one can boost us.
Andy says: ‘The average hug last 2.1 seconds, but for the love to transfer between two people it should last seven seconds or longer.
‘Treat your mum, dad or partner to a slow, lingering hug to show them you love them. You’ll both come away feeling happier.’
3 Learn the monetary value of happiness
You can’t put a price on happiness. But you can equate what happiness is worth in cold, hard cash.
According to Andy, having good friends is worth around £64,000 of happiness a year, nice neighbours equals £37,000, a decent night’s sleep is £200,000 and having good health comes to a whopping £300,000.
He says: ‘If you’ve got all these, you’re a lottery winner.
Tot up the cash value of your happiness. You might be surprised.’
4 Use positive language
Using positive language is key to keeping upbeat. When your language is positive and conversations get off to a flying start and not a downer, your mood can easily follow.
Andy says: ‘When they were little I started asking my kids, “How was your day — good, fantastic or brilliant?” I never gave them a chance to say boring.
‘We often save the rubbish parts of our day to share with the people we love.
But most of the time our day hasn’t been rubbish at all, our brain just remembers the worst bits.
‘Changing conversation to focus on the positive helps us to remember this.’
5 Practise gratitude
It’s easy to get bogged down in the things that annoy us or make us sad, and forget how much we can be thankful for.
‘Write a list of 10 things that you’re lucky to have,’ Andy suggests. ‘Health and relationships are likely to be at the top of most people’s lists, but things like democracy and running water might feature too.’
Look at that list every day, remember how lucky you are and stop taking things for granted.
6 Spread your happiness around
Happiness is infectious, and when you’re happy it causes other people to smile too.
Andy says: ‘When you’re having a good day, the happiness leaks out and reaches three degrees of people around you.
‘If you go to work happy, then everyone in the office will be happier. When they go home their families will be infected with happiness too, and if they pop to the shops, they’ll pass the happiness on to the checkout assistant.
‘Happiness creates a ripple effect — so put a smile on and spread it around!’
Edited by Hannah Crocker