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How to Cultivate Happiness

Happiness  is a difficult emotion to quantify, which means that it also can be hard to study. Part of this difficulty stems from the fact that our colloquial understanding of happiness often includes a variety of short-term emotions, such as elation, and long-term feelings like life-satisfaction. Here are some habits that can help improve your mood and boost your sense of happiness

There is a vast body of research detailing the relationship between negative emotions and health. Among other issues, anxiety can impact inflammation, and stress may affect pain in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. More research is starting to look at the other side of the coin — positive emotions have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and may even affect longevity.



From lowering the risk of cancer to reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, the physiological benefits of exercise have been extensively covered by research. Exercise also can affect your mental state by helping to relieve negative emotions stemming from stress, depression and anxiety. Physical activity has been shown to improve long-term mood and well-being as it becomes part of a weekly routine

Practice Small, Incremental and Purposeful Change

Realizing a goal stimulates feelings of happiness, motivation and self-esteem. Unfortunately, people with depression are more likely to pursue an ambiguous goal, which makes it harder to accomplish. Whether it is starting an exercise regimen or learning something new, breaking a long-term goal into specific milestones helps maintain motivation and provides incremental feelings of accomplishment.

Get Enough Sleep

Mental health and sleep have a two-way relationship — poor mental health from anxiety, depression and stress can disrupt sleep and poor sleep can impact your mood. Regular exercise, meditation and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake have all been shown to improve sleep quality. Talk with your doctor if restless legs syndrome, insomnia or other another issue is hurting your sleep quality.

Spend Time Outside

Simply taking time to escape the house or office may help boost your health. Several studies have connected being outdoors, especially in nature, with an increased sense of vitality. Getting some sun may also play a role in mood. Sunlight boosts vitamin D in the body, and low concentrations of vitamin D have been linked with depression and disease progression in conditions like multiple sclerosis.

Mood and Diet

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress related to conditions like MS and cancer and may even affect mood. Participants of one study who regularly consumed dark chocolate (500 mg) reported significantly increased calmness and contentedness after 30 days. While the research is far from definitive, it adds to the body of evidence connecting diet and mental health