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Learn scientifically proven happiness hacks that actually work and discover why Finland tops the world happiness charts.

Scientifically Proven Happiness Hacks That Actually Work 

Jun 17, 2024

By Will Moore

Introduction

Did you know that according to a study by the World Happiness Report, Finland consistently ranks as the happiest country in the world, with Helsinki as its vibrant capital? This isn't just a coincidence—it's the result of healthy habits and practices that promote well-being and happiness. By understanding and adopting some of these strategies, you can boost your own happiness too.

By the end of this read, you'll have a set of science-backed, easy-to-implement happiness hacks tailored to fit into your busy life, all from a happiness expert who has spent the last 25 years studying behavioral science and principles to understand the true meaning of happiness. I believe I've cracked the code. Why? I'm living a completely different life now, full of deep, satisfying daily relationships and experiences that ensure I'm continually growing and making progress, building momentum in life.

Upgrades You’ll Earn from This Blog:

  1. Practical strategies to boost your happiness.

  2. Science-backed tips that are easy to implement.

  3. Long-term improvements in mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

  4. Unique insights from Helsinki’s approach to happiness.

What Are Some Common Obstacles to Happiness?

Before reading the hacks, let’s first find out the factors that are preventing us from staying happy.

1. Information Overload

We live in an age where information is at our fingertips. While this can be empowering, it also means we are bombarded with conflicting advice on how to improve our lives. This flood of information leads to confusion, making it difficult to know where to start or whom to trust. According to a study, exposure to excessive information increases anxiety and stress levels.

2. Instant Gratification

Modern culture often prioritizes immediate satisfaction over long-term well-being. This focus on short-term rewards can erode self-discipline and make the journey towards lasting happiness seem daunting. The constant pursuit of quick fixes can lead to a cycle of temporary pleasure followed by long-term dissatisfaction.

A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies explores the role of delayed gratification in lifestyle and life satisfaction, highlighting how the ability to delay gratification enables individuals to give greater weight to the investment component of lifestyle decisions rather than merely the affective component, which influences long-term well-being

3. Lack of Self-Awareness

Without a clear understanding of our own needs, strengths, and values, it’s easy to adopt habits that don’t truly serve us. Many self-improvement methods offer one-size-fits-all solutions that fail to engage us on a personal level. This lack of personalization can decrease motivation and make it hard to stick with new habits.

To emphasize this point, consider the words of Drew Gerald:

“Look outside, and you will see yourself. Look inside, and you will find yourself.”

4. Procrastination and Inaction

Decision-making paralysis and procrastination are common barriers to personal growth. When faced with numerous choices and overwhelming options, we often end up doing nothing at all. This inaction leads to missed opportunities and stagnation.

Read our Article on What Are Some Psychological Biases that Act as Barriers to Effective Decision Making?

For a deeper understanding of this behavior, the article “The Psychological Origins of Procrastination—and How We Can Stop Putting Things Off” looks into the reasons behind our tendency to delay tasks and offers strategies to enhance the subjective value of working now. It suggests that by increasing the value of the project or decreasing the value of distractions, we can overcome the habit of procrastination. This approach is a cornerstone for moving past the inertia of inaction and seizing the opportunities that come our way.

5. Burnout and Miswanting

The relentless pursuit of societal standards, driven by social media and a fast-paced lifestyle, leads to burnout and inefficiency. Often, we chase after what we think we should want rather than what truly brings us joy and fulfillment. This “miswanting“ can drive deeper dissatisfaction and a sense of never being enough.

According to Daniel Gilbert:

“We are not very good at knowing what will make us happy. In fact, we are often dead wrong.”

What Are Happiness Hacks?

Happiness hacks are simple, practical strategies designed to improve your well-being in small, manageable steps. By focusing on incremental changes, these hacks help you build a sustainable path to long-term happiness.

How can I improve my happiness?

To stay happy, it’s essential to develop success habits. Because the methods that are required to build habits need consistent efforts. Habits solve perceived problems by creating neural pathways that make actions automatic. While some habits form quickly, others take time. Habit formation involves four stages: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward.

For example, if you want to practice gratitude daily, the Cue might be placing your gratitude journal on your bedside table, the Craving is the desire to feel thankful and positive, the Response is writing down three things you’re grateful for, and the Reward is the positive feeling you get from acknowledging the good in your life.

Good or bad, habits compound over time to shape who we are and how we want to stay — happy or sad?

Failure habits are easy to form because they seek the path of least resistance. However, success habits can be made fun and addictive by using the same science and tech that currently monetizes our attention. To gamify your habits, set specific goals, track progress with a habit tracker app, and create rewards for reaching milestones.

Wouldn't it be cool if improving your life was as fun as playing your favorite game?

Types Of Happiness Hacks

Happiness is not an absolute term — it is the result of our three types of health – mental, physical, and emotional. A healthy mind and body will lead to healthy and happy emotions. What you eat, consume, and read translates into your emotions. To make yourself happy, you need to work on all areas of your health to achieve a long-term state of happiness.

So, are you ready to be happy? Let’s get started!

Happiness Hacks for Mental Health

Mental health is a cornerstone of overall happiness. When our minds are in a good state, everything else tends to follow. Here are some effective, science-backed happiness hacks that can help improve your mental well-being.

1. Practice Gratitude

One of the simplest yet most powerful ways to boost your happiness is by practicing gratitude, which offers emotional and interpersonal benefits. Research shows that regularly expressing gratitude enhances your mood.

Read our Article and Understand Why Anxiety and Gratitude Cannot Coexist

Tips to Practice Gratitude:

  • Gratitude Journal: Spend a few minutes each day writing down things you are grateful for. It could be as simple as a sunny day or a kind gesture from a friend.

  • Daily Reflections: At the end of each day, reflect on three positive things that happened. This helps shift your focus from what went wrong to what went right.

  • Thank You Notes: Write a thank you note or email to someone who has made a difference in your life. This not only makes you feel good but also strengthens your relationships.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance emotional resilience. These practices help you stay present, reduce anxiety, and cultivate a calm, balanced mind.

Tips to Practice Mindfulness and Meditation:

  • Breathing Techniques: Start with simple deep breathing exercises using the 4x4x4 technique. Inhale deeply for 4 counts, hold for 4, and exhale for 4. Repeat this cycle several times.

  • Guided Meditations: Use apps like Headspace or Calm to follow guided meditation sessions. These can range from a few minutes to longer sessions, depending on your schedule.

  • Mindful Moments: Incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities. Whether you’re eating, walking, or even doing chores, focus on the sensations and experience of the moment.

3. Make Positive Affirmations Daily

Positive affirmations are statements that help you overcome negative thoughts and self-doubt. By repeating these affirmations regularly, you can reprogram your mind to focus on your strengths and potential.

Learn More About Some of the Important Growth Mindset Questions

According to a study, self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages, enhancing receptivity and leading to behavior change.

Tips to Use Positive Affirmations:

  • Daily Mantras: Start your day with affirmations like “I am capable,” “I am worthy,” or “I am growing every day.” Say them out loud or write them down.

  • Affirmation Cards: Create or purchase affirmation cards that you can keep with you. Glance at them throughout the day to keep your mindset positive.

  • Mirror Technique: Stand in front of a mirror and say your affirmations. This can be particularly powerful as it combines visual and verbal reinforcement.

Happiness Hacks for Physical Health

Physical health plays a crucial role in our overall happiness. When our bodies feel good, it positively impacts our mood, energy levels, and ability to handle stress. Here are some effective happiness hacks to improve your physical health.

1. Regular Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and improves physical health. The key is to find an activity you enjoy so that it becomes a regular part of your routine. Spending time in green spaces while exercising can further enhance these health benefits by reducing stress and improving mood.

A review found that as little as 10 minutes of physical activity per week can increase happiness levels. Both aerobic exercise and stretching/balancing exercises are effective in improving happiness and achieving long term health goals.

Tips to Incorporate Exercise:

  • Find Your Fun: Choose activities that you find enjoyable, whether it’s dancing, swimming, hiking, or playing a sport. The more fun you have, the more likely you are to stick with it.

  • Schedule It: Treat exercise like an important appointment. Schedule it into your calendar and make it non-negotiable.

  • Start Small: If you’re new to exercise, start with small, manageable goals. Gradually increase the duration and intensity as you build your fitness.

2. Nutrition and Hydration

What you eat and drink has a direct impact on your mood and energy levels. A balanced diet and proper hydration make you feel more energized, focused, and happy.

Learn More About Healthy Eating Habits

According to science a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, has been shown to protect against mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, a Western diet high in processed foods increases the risk of these disorders.

Tips to Improve Nutrition and Hydration:

  • Eat a Rainbow: Incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost your mood and health.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and irritability. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water daily.

  • Balanced Meals: Include a mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates in your meals. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain steady energy.

3. Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep is essential for happiness. Poor sleep leads to mood swings, decreased productivity, and increased stress.

Tips to Improve Sleep Hygiene:

  • Consistent Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock.

  • Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. Use comfortable bedding and limit screen time before bed.

  • Relaxing Routine: Establish a calming pre-sleep routine. This could include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Happiness Hacks for Emotional Health

Emotional and social well-being are vital components of happiness. Here are some happiness hacks to boost these:

1. Build Meaningful Relationships

Strong, meaningful relationships are a key factor in happiness. They provide support, reduce stress, and increase a sense of belonging and purpose.

Tips to Build Meaningful Relationships:

  • Quality Time: Spend quality time with family and friends. Engage in activities that you enjoy together, whether it’s having dinner, going for a walk, or playing games.

  • Active Listening: Practice active listening. When someone is speaking, give them your full attention. This fosters deeper connections and shows that you value their presence.

  • Express Appreciation: Regularly express your appreciation and gratitude to those around you. Simple acts of kindness and acknowledgement can strengthen your bonds.

2. Engage in Fun Activities

Leisure and hobbies play an important role in happiness. Engaging in activities that you enjoy can reduce stress, improve mood, and add joy to your life.

Check out Different Mental Health Games and Activities for Adults

According to scientists, leisure-time exercise and active commuting (walking or cycling) are associated with better mental health, particularly in men. Even mild-intensity exercise has massive benefits.

Tips to Engage in Fun Activities:

  • Discover New Hobbies: Try out new hobbies and activities to find what you love. Whether it’s painting, gardening, cooking, or playing an instrument, find something that excites you.

  • Schedule Leisure Time: Make time for fun activities in your schedule. Just as you prioritize work and responsibilities, prioritize time for leisure and relaxation.

  • Join Groups: Participate in clubs or groups that share your interests. This not only helps you engage in fun activities but also connects you with like-minded individuals.

3. Act Kindly

It is proven by science that engaging in acts of kindness boosts your happiness and creates a ripple effect of positivity. Helping others not only makes them feel good but also increases your own sense of fulfillment.

How to Practice Acts of Kindness

  • Random Acts of Kindness: Perform small, random acts of kindness, such as paying for someone’s coffee, complimenting a stranger, or helping a neighbor with groceries.

  • Volunteer: Dedicate some of your time to volunteer work. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and contribute your skills and time to help others.

  • Supportive Gestures: Offer support to friends and family. This could be through a listening ear, a helping hand, or simply being there for them during tough times.

Helsinki Happiness Hacks

Helsinki, often ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world, offers unique insights into fostering happiness. Here are some happiness hacks inspired by Helsinki that you can incorporate into your life.

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Spend Time in Nature

Helsinki places a strong emphasis on the importance of nature in daily life. Spending time in green spaces has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost overall well-being.

Tips to Embrace Nature

  • Daily Walks: Make it a habit to take a walk outside every day. Whether it’s in a park, by a lake, or through your neighborhood, enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings.

  • Outdoor Activities: Engage in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or simply having a picnic. Nature offers a free and effective way to boost your happiness.

  • Green Spaces: Incorporate green spaces into your living environment. Add plants to your home or workplace to bring a touch of nature indoors.

Community Engagement

Strong community ties contribute to happiness. Helsinki encourages community engagement through various social activities and community events. Engaging with your community helps individuals stay present in their own lives and enhances overall well-being.

Tips to Engage with Your Community

  • Local Events: Participate in local events and activities. Attend community fairs, festivals, and gatherings to connect with others and feel a part of your community.

Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for happiness. Helsinki’s approach emphasizes the importance of balancing work with personal life to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

Tips to Maintain Work-Life Balance:

  • Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal time. Avoid checking work emails or taking work calls during your personal time.

  • Prioritize Rest and Recreation: Ensure you have time for rest, relaxation, and activities you enjoy outside of work. This helps recharge your mind and body.

Flexible Work Options: If possible, explore flexible work options such as remote work or adjustable hours. Flexibility can help you better manage your time and reduce stress.

Psychological Tricks to Make Yourself Happy

Incorporating certain psychological tricks into your daily routine can significantly boost your happiness. These techniques are rooted in scientific principles and have been shown to enhance overall well-being.

Trick 1: Visualization

Visualizing positive outcomes and experiences can help create a more optimistic mindset. Spend a few minutes each day imagining your goals and the positive changes they will bring to your life. This can enhance motivation and reduce stress.

Trick 2: Cognitive Restructuring

Challenge and reframe negative thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, pause and reframe those thoughts in a more positive or realistic light. This practice can reduce stress and improve your mood over time.

Trick 3: Savoring

Take the time to fully enjoy and appreciate positive experiences. Whether it’s a delicious meal, a beautiful sunset, or a moment of success, savoring these experiences can increase your overall happiness.

Conclusion

Start implementing these simple, science-backed hacks into your daily routine. From practicing gratitude and mindfulness to engaging in regular exercise and building meaningful relationships, these strategies are designed to seamlessly fit into your busy life. Inspired by the happiest city on Earth, Helsinki, you'll find fresh perspectives that can elevate your well-being.

🚀 READY PLAYER ONE?

Are you ready to take the first step towards a happier life? Start by taking our Core Values Quiz to see where you stand in the 5 Core Areas of Life. This fun and insightful quiz will give you a clear starting point to build your momentum.

Next, explore our Coaching Services to receive personalized guidance. Whether you need individual coaching or executive coaching, we'll help you momentify your personal and professional life.

Don't forget to check out our Weekly Habit Tracker App. This gamified tool makes it fun and rewarding to hold yourself accountable and keep building momentum.

Our Mission:

Accelerate your growth in the 5 Pillars of Life by making your habit transformation journey so simple, fun, and rewarding that your momentum becomes inevitable. Join us and start leveling up your life today!

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FAQ Section

How can I improve my happiness?

To improve your happiness, start by incorporating simple, daily practices into your routine. One effective method is practicing gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal and reflecting on the positive aspects of your day can significantly boost your mood. Regular exercise is another key component; it releases endorphins, reduces stress, and enhances physical health.

Additionally, engaging in mindfulness meditation helps you stay present, reduces anxiety, and improves emotional resilience. Getting more sleep is also crucial for improving happiness, as it positively impacts memory, concentration, and stress levels. Furthermore, speaking with mental health professionals can improve coping skills and overall well-being. These practices are easy to implement and can lead to long-term improvements in your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

What are 5 ways to be happy?

  1. Practice gratitude: Spend a few minutes each day writing down things you are grateful for, which helps shift your focus from negative to positive aspects of your life.

  2. Engage in regular physical activity: Find an activity you enjoy, such as dancing, swimming, or hiking. Regular exercise releases endorphins and boosts your mood.

  3. Spend time with loved ones: Quality time with family and friends provides emotional support, reduces stress, and increases your sense of belonging and purpose.

  4. Take part in fun and enjoyable activities: Engaging in hobbies and leisure activities can reduce stress and improve your overall mood.

  5. Perform acts of kindness: Helping others through random acts of kindness or volunteering boosts your happiness and creates a ripple effect of positivity.

  6. Smile often: The simple act of smiling can release feel-good hormones, improve your mood, reduce stress, and even boost your immune system. It creates small moments of positivity that can affect your entire day and influence others' reactions.

  7. Spend money on others: Engaging in prosocial spending, such as buying things for others or participating in philanthropy, has been proven to boost happiness and well-being. Being generous and kind to others can significantly increase your own happiness.

How to be a happy life hack?

Incorporate Helsinki Happiness Hacks into your routine. These include spending time in nature, engaging with your community, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Nature has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood, while community engagement fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

A balanced work-life ensures you have time for rest, relaxation, and activities you enjoy, which are crucial for overall well-being. Additionally, addressing sleep deprivation is essential, as insufficient or poor sleep worsens emotional states and impacts mood. Furthermore, activities that reduce the stress hormone cortisol, such as watching humorous videos, can significantly lower stress levels and enhance overall happiness.

How do I make myself happy?

Making yourself happy involves focusing on self-care, setting personal goals, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Start by practicing gratitude, which shifts your focus to positive aspects of life. Engage in regular physical activity to boost your mood and energy levels.

Spend quality time with loved ones to foster meaningful relationships. Take part in hobbies and leisure activities that you enjoy to reduce stress and improve your overall mood. Additionally, practicing acts of kindness can enhance your sense of fulfillment and create a ripple effect of positivity.

What are Helsinki Happiness Hacks?

Helsinki Happiness Hacks are inspired by practices in one of the happiest cities in the world. These include spending time in nature, engaging with the community, and maintaining a good work-life balance. Spending time outdoors reduces stress and boosts mood.

Community engagement fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. A healthy work-life balance ensures time for rest, relaxation, and activities you enjoy, which are essential for overall well-being. By incorporating these practices into your life, you can enhance your happiness and well-being.

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Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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