Pharrell William's song, "Happy", has topped the music charts and kept people dancing all summer long. But do those who "clap along" really know what makes them happy?
According to research, there are some scientifically proven ways to boost your happiness levels. Here are a few things you can do:
Limit your time on social media
Although Facebook is a fantastic way to connect with your friends and family, a study from the University of Michigan found that the more time you spend on social media, the more unhappiness you feel. Excessive use of social media can lead to depression and isolation.
Spending an afternoon stalking people on Facebook never makes you feel good afterwards.
Enjoy your life by making real connections outside of the internet.
Show consistent gratitude
Forgetting to show appreciation may affect your life more than you realize.
In a study done by Berkeley, researchers found that, "grateful individuals tend to be happy individuals, and that grateful thinking improves mood."
Shawn Achor, a lecturer on positive psychology at Harvard, suggests, "create a two minute daily habit of thinking of 3 new things you are grateful for each day."
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a simple way to turn an unhappy life into a happy one.
Focusing on the here and now
When researching the key differences between happiness and meaning, Dr. Jennifer Aaker discovered that people who focus on the past or future are less happy. Alternatively, if they think about the present, they are happier.
Instead of worrying about what is to come, or what may have been, focus on what is happening right now. Take the time to appreciate the day.
In their study about achieving sustainable happiness, Kennon Shedon and Sonja Lyubomirsky found that, "effort and hard work offer the most promising route to happiness."
Put in the extra effort in a project for work and school. Going the extra mile pays off in the long-run. Choose to do a task the right way, and probably the long way, instead of a quick fix or shabby alternative.
In the same study, Shedon and Lyumbormisrky claim that the easy way out has, "little lasting effect on personal well-being."
Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College, warns that many people look for happiness in the wrong places.
Her research shows that people, "who have religious or spiritual beliefs are happier than those who don’t, no matter what their beliefs."
Making religion a part of your life is a key part of being happy. If you do not attend a church, go find one. Take the time each day to focus on your spirituality.
Boosting your happiness level not only improves your own life, but your family life as well. As we all know (it's true): "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
Katelyn Carmen is the International Content Manager for the FamilyShare Network. She completed her MBA at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. She received her undergrad degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho in English.