Scientific research has thrown up a number of ways we can improve our lives, from simple, effective interventions to more involved but equally effective ones. Although not an exhaustive list, below are seven scientifically backed ways to dramatically improve the quality of your life.
1. Laugh More
If you missed my video article on The Science of Laughter, I encourage you to head over there now to discover the evolutionary importance of laughter. Numerous studies have shown the benefits to wellbeing of laughter, including that people who laugh a lot experience less stress and live longer. What makes you laugh? Find ways to get more of it in your life.
2. Learn Something New
Did you know that bilingualism boosts cognitive ability? Apart from the bragging rights bilingualism will give you, benefits include, amongst others, improving your decision making skills and your memory (if you’re interested in learning a new language, start here). Or why not consider learning a musical instrument – studies have shown that learning an instrument gives your brain a “mental workout” making it more engaged and responsive to stimuli. If learning another language or taking up a musical instrument isn’t for you, any activity that challenges you, like overcoming an anxiety or going vegetarian for a week, will make you resilient, shaper, more confident, and more optimistic about the future.
4. Become More Tactile
Several studies have shown that tactile communication is positively correlated with happiness, improved cooperation, and better performance. Hugs have been proven to make people happier, although there’s an ongoing debate about how many hugs you need to have. Even sex is associated with numerous health and professional benefits. Time to get tactile?
5. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Are you grateful enough? Developing an attitude of gratitude has been shown to make people happier and improve their relationships. Having an attitude of gratitude also has a positive effect on those around you.
One study, reported in Barking Up The Wrong Tree, found that participants who wrote letters of gratitude were happier and more satisfied with life. Try mentally subtracting an important and cherished event in your life, such as the birth of your first child: this activity alone will make you feel happier and more grateful to have your child in your life. Why not develop a routine of ’counting your blessings’ at the end of each day?
6. Spend More Time with People You Love
It’s all about love. A groundbreaking study called the Harvard Grant Study looked into finding answers to “life’s fundamental questions” and revealed that (as we all know deep down) it’s all about love. According to the lead psychiatrist of the study, George Vaillant, the most important finding from the study was that relationships are the key to a satisfying life, a finding which echoes numerous other studies. So, make a point of spending more time with friends and family. Your life will be “happier and more fulfilling”.
The benefits of meditation have been well-documented but are definitely worth repeating: meditation has been shown to reduce stress levels, increase concentration, and boost wellbeing. Prayer has also been shown to have similar effects. Make a daily habit of meditating/praying, and you’ll reap the benefits sooner than you might expect.
You don’t need a major overhaul to transform your life: any of these suggestions will have a definite, positive impact. Try them, and let me know the results – use the comments box below.