March 20 marks the 2018 International Day of Happiness, which aims to inspire individuals to share happiness with others and create a happier world for all. To help boost joy for ourselves and those around us, we round up what recent research has said about optimizing our chances for happiness.
Various studies have shown that although it might feel good at the time, splashing out on material possessions may not be the best way to bring happiness. A 2017 study found that buying yourself more time, by employing a housecleaner or paying someone to mow the lawn for example, brings greater life satisfaction, regardless of income. A 2015 Canadian study also found that while buying possessions did bring happiness, it was spending money on experiences that gave more satisfaction weeks after the purchase.
Data released last year by UK charity Age UK revealed that staying social is one of the key ways to stay happier as we age. After looking at 15,000 people aged 60 and over, researchers found that taking part in social activities such as going to the cinema, being a member of a sports club, or getting involved in a volunteer group was one of the most effective ways of boosting feelings of happiness and well-being, as well as overall health.
UK research published last year found that even a minimal level of exercise could boost happiness, even when you feel like you're not even working out. The study of more than 10,000 participants found that even light to moderate activity such as walking improved mood and emotional well-being, regardless of their baseline level of happiness.
Book a holiday
Travel can bring more happiness than a new job, getting engaged, or even one's wedding day, according to a 2016 global survey of 17,000 people. Carried out by booking.com, the findings showed that even just planning a trip can boost happy feelings. Another good reason to book that vacation.
Reduce screen time
With the rise of smartphones and social media there has also been a rise in the number of studies looking at how screen time could be affecting our happiness. A study published earlier this year found that teens who spend a large amount of time on their smartphone are more likely to report being unhappy than those who spend more time doing non-screen activities, such as spending time with friends or playing sports. A Danish study by the Happiness Research Institute found that giving up Facebook for just a week led to an increase in feelings of happiness and life satisfaction.