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04/11/2016 12:51 pm ET

How to Be Happy: 3 Science-Backed Ways for Finding Happiness

How to be Happy: 3 Science-Backed Ways For Finding Happiness

We all just want to be happy, don't we? Yet, as much as we might say we want it, the reality is far from that. Usually, we spend more of our time in a state of worry, nervousness, stress or fear than we do in pure bliss.

So what are the ways that we can be happy right now if we really wanted to? Is it really just a matter of following a few simple instructions to do so? But what about our problems? What happens when our problems are so big that it blocks any attempt at happiness?

Well, according to science, happiness is simply a state-of-mind that's attainable at virtually any time, no matter what the situation. And these three science-backed methods for being happy have proven that happiness is possible. This isn't rocket science; this is just a commitment to transcending the problems that exist in the here-and-now.

#1 -- Give thanks for everything, even your problems

A big part of positive-psychology research is the undeniable link between gratitude and happiness. Studies have shown for years now that people who are more grateful are happier in life. They see the positive rather than focusing on the negative.

In life, you get whatever it is that you focus on. Focus on a problem, and you'll get more of it. However, focus on solutions or even gratefulness for the problems, and you attract better things in life. Sometimes, our problems are merely there to pave the way for better things in life.

Take 15 minutes every morning to focus on gratitude. Make it habitual by doing it for at least 90 days straight. One study suggests that habits form anywhere between 18 to 254 days with an average formation period of 66 days. But if you can hit the 90-day mark, you're for more likely to solidify that habit in the mind.

Write down everything you have to be grateful for, no matter how small or trivial it might seem. If you have a roof over your head or food on your plate, write that down. If you can speak, read and write, then acknowledge that. If you're six feet above ground, why not acknowledge that even?

#2 -- Smile for at least 20 minutes while looking in the mirror

There's a difference between a smile and a genuine smile, also known as a Duchenne smile. Duchenne smiles involve a contraction of the muscles next to the eyes and lips. The corners of the mouth arch upwards and small crow's feet form around the eyes.

The point? Smile genuinely while looking in the mirror for at least 20 minutes at a time. How do you do that? Hold a pencil between your teeth (not your lips), forcing a Duchenne smile. Studies suggest that a genuine, Duchenne smile will significantly impact your overall mood.

Motion creates emotion. Think about a depressed person for a moment. How do they hold their heads? How about their shoulders? Their heads usually sag along with their shoulders while their backs are arched, hunched over in a defeated stance.

The motion of smiling creates a subsequent emotion of happiness. When you do it, look in the mirror. While it might seem silly at first, over time, you'll get used to it.

#3 -- Find a way to contribute something to another person

Research has indicated that there's a strong correlation between giving to others and happiness in life. But it isn't just about giving money. Other studies have proved that contributing your time also results in a boost of happiness.

Why? While the brain might be built for selfish-survival in that it's hardwired from a genetic standpoint to preserve and foster life, the brain was also built for generosity. Giving and helping others creates a dramatic shift in the mind and our potential happiness because it sends a very powerful signal to the subconscious.

When you give, you're telling yourself you have more than enough. Not just money. Your time is more valuable than money. Find ways you can give something of yourself to others, and do it consistently. Seek opportunities to help others in any way that you can, and you'll experience a transformational shift in your happiness.

As humans, we will always do more for others than we will for ourselves. This innate sense of contribution is what society is founded upon. By paying homage to that, and seeking opportunities to serve others, we'll find the happiness that already resides within.

Image: Shutterstock

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