Jun 13, 2014

Smile, Be Happy

In one set of studies, depressed participants were invited to take a few minutes once a day to relish something that they usually hurry through, such as eating a meal or taking a shower. When it was over, they were instructed to write down in what ways they had experienced the event differently as well as how that felt compared with the times when they rushed through it.

In another study, healthy students and community members were instructed to savor two pleasurable experiences per day, by reflecting on each for two or three minutes and trying to make the pleasure last as long and as intensely as possible. In all these studies those participants prompted to practice savoring, regularly showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.

Researchers told people to smile and the subjects actually felt happier. More than 26,000 people were randomly assigned to groups and asked to carry out various exercises designed to make them happier. When it came to increasing happiness, those altering their facial expressions came out on top.

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