7 ways to be happier at home, backed by science


Happy at home

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Here’s a little incentive to try and boost your joy levels: happy people make more money.

A 2013 study showed that when other factors like age are removed, happy people tend to earn $2,000 more a year than their grumpy counterparts.

Ready to bring on the sunshine (and the extra cash)? Here are seven things you can do at home to make yourself happier.  


1. Introduce a social ritual

This one is a happiness double-whammy: It’s communal and it gives you something to look forward to.

According to Harvard Happiness Expert David Gilbert (yes — that’s a real thing), family and friends are the two biggest sources of human happiness. So plan an activity you can do with people in your life. It can be as simple as cooking a new recipe for dinner every Sunday, or as silly as building an elaborate fort system with your kids every Friday night.

Once you have your ritual, let yourself look forward to it. A study has shown that people can increase their endorphin levels by as much as 27 percent by just thinking about watching their favorite movie. If you love your new tradition, we bet you can crank that number up to 30 percent (or higher).


2. Be mindful of small annoyances, then try to remove them

When you’re stressed, it’s easy to let little things bug you without even realizing it’s happening. Maybe your partner never replaces the toilet paper roll. Or maybe your bedroom door squeaks every morning. These irritations add up.

Pay attention to them, and instead of letting them simmer below the surface, see if you can remove them from your daily life. Talk to your partner about the TP issue. Fix your squeaky door. You’ll feel better.


3. Introduce radio silence an hour before bed

Smartphones are amazing tools (hooray for the BrightNest app!). But these communication powerhouses are a double-edged sword. For example, reading a stressful work email 20 minutes before you’re about to hit the hay can ruin your peaceful night’s sleep.

To avoid this, shut down all your communication channels an hour or so before bed. Phone, email, Twitter, everything. Take a bath. Read a book. Chat with a family member. Anything that’ll help you relax and head to bed feeling happy. Bonus: Avoiding electronics (and their bright screens) before bed will help you sleep better.


4. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than you need to

Since you’re prepping yourself for an awesome night’s sleep with tip No. 3, waking up a little earlier should be no problem! The big advantage here is reducing stress.

There’s a huge difference between running out of the house in the nick of time while your hair is still wet and leisurely finishing your coffee while you watch the sun rise. That little buffer zone can help you center yourself, plan your day and start off feeling prepared instead of already one step behind.


5. Find your favorite smell, then fill a room with it

According to a study in the Journal of Social Psychology, ambient smells can have a pretty big effect on our behavior. In one instance, researchers saw altruism increase by 77 percent when the smell of freshly baked food was wafting around.

We’re not saying you need to turn your home into a bakery (although you can recreate that smell by baking vanilla in the oven, just saying), but play around with different smells. Peppermint is known to help boost moods, and both lavender and coffee beans can reduce stress levels. Try them out.


6. Do random favors for your housemates

A study by University of British Colombia scientists showed that people feel better when they spend money on someone else instead of themselves. But the good news is you don’t have to shell out cash do someone a favor.

Whether it’s a nice note to your significant other or fixing up your kid’s favorite toy, a random act of kindness around the house will go a long way.

Live alone? Do something for your friend or neighbor. 


7. Exercise in regular, small bursts

Exercise is like kryptonite for the “blahs.” In fact, one study showed that exercise can prevent the relapse of clinical depression more effectively than medication.

Plus, more and more authorities in the exercise space are saying that the benefits of working out come from consistency, not three-hour gym sessions that look like a scene from Rocky. So, identify a few recurring “down time” moments in your daily routine, and use them to bang out a couple dozen pushups, jumping jacks or sun salutations. A mere seven minutes of extra exercise a day can be the key to a happiness boost.

What about you? Do you have any home happiness tricks to share? Leave them in the comments.


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