Daily happiness doesn't have to be elusive. The trick: Seeking out easy ways to boost your satisfaction in every moment. While conducting research for her book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, Ariel Gore found that by tending to our happiness, we can boost it. "What we focus on grows, so if you water your happiness, you will search for and notice your happiness more, and therefore it goes up," she says. Here, we give you seven simple ways to help your happiness bloom.
Plan a Trip
You don't even have to take the vacation — the most happiness lies in the planning. Researchers in the Netherlands measured the happiness levels of 1,530 Dutch adults over about 10 months. Of the 1,500 people, 974 took a vacation. These vacation-goers were happier before they left for their trip than those who stayed at home — but once they'd been back for more than two weeks, they were not noticeably happier than the homebodies. For Gore, the study rings true. "We're pretty bad at knowing what's going to make us happy, so in the planning stage, it's a dream and really exciting," says Gore. "But when you get home, the house sitter killed all the plants." Moreover, vacations can have their own stresses -- especially with air travel and the widespread use of wireless devices, which allows your boss to reach you on holiday. Still, the joy of anticipation may be well worth any travel snags.
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Giving thanks for the little things that your partner does can have major positive results. "There's a lot of research that supports this connection between gratitude and happiness," says Gore. In fact, a study out of the University of North Carolina shows that feeling gratitude for your significant other's small, loving gestures allows a relationship to flourish. Satisfied pairs didn't necessarily lavish each other with diamonds and shiny new cars -- rather, they helped in modest ways, taking the kids to the zoo so their partner could have some alone time, bringing home a cup of their partner's favorite coffee and planning a special meal to celebrate a promotion. But the key to contentment did not lie in these small kindnesses but rather in the recipients' reactions. In happy couples, recipients responded with gratitude, rather than indifference or resentment. As the subjects reacted positively to each other, their relationships were strengthened. Gore believes that expressing gratitude in any way ups your happiness. "If you keep a gratitude journal and get over the fact that you think it's hokey, that will boost your mood," she says. "It's one of those things that is almost universally effective."
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