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Happier in 5 Books: 5 Fast Tips To Boost Your Mood

Happiness has powerful effects on our day-to-day lives. Happy people are more productive, more satisfied and they live longer.
by Caitlin Schiller | Feb 2 2017

When you take behavioral economists at Warwick Business School and combine them with math problems, chocolate, and comedy, what do you get? Some fascinating insights on what truly makes us happy.

Using the above materials, the Warwick research group was able to determine that on average, happier people are 12% more productive. What’s more, happier people live longer and healthier lives, make friends more easily, and, in general, live better.

How much more excellent could the world be if we were all 12% happier?

At Blinkist, we’ve read hundreds of the best books on happiness and we’ve found the very best on the subject. Here are five books, plus easy tips from each, on how anyone (even you!) can up your number of good days. Ready to be happier and you know it? Clap your hands! Or just keep on reading.

1. Write down what makes you feel grateful

To get on the bright side, Positive Psychology expert Barbara L. Fredrickson advocates feeling three positive emotions for every negative one in a day. But how can you hope to predictably achieve the “be happier” ratio? One of the best methods is a gratitude diary: a journal in which you note down things you’ve felt grateful for recently, such as eating a delicious meal or having great friends to talk to. This works because gratitude is a powerful positive emotion: if experienced frequently, even small doses of it lead to a continuous improvement in your general attitude towards life. The diary helps you track and trigger more gratitude by recreating moments that make you feel great.

2. Get the best of “behavioral spillover”

All right: say you think that getting physically fit will make you happy so you start going to the gym. But driving home from your first workout, starving, you stop into your favorite fast food joint and “reward” yourself with a big, greasy burger and some fries. Why in the world would you do this? Behavioral spillover, my friend. Often, opposite behaviors are connected by the same motivation (here, to lose a few pounds), and your success or failure in acting out one behavior affects your future behavior—a phenomenon known as behavioral spillover. Trouble is, these behaviors are largely attributable to your impulses, so you often aren’t aware of what’s happening until it’s too late.

In his book Happiness by Design, behavioral scientist Paul Dolan explains: “You need to consider not only what you do or feel but also what effect your current actions and feelings might have on what you do and feel next.” So, to really make yourself happy, start cultivating an awareness of your behavioral spillovers.

3. Create a fun map

Ryan Babineaux’s and John Krumboltz’ book Fail Fast, Fail Often provides a very concrete way for you to squeeze more pleasure out of your daily life: a fun map. Here’s how it works: jot down all the places you frequent and rate them by level of enjoyment you usually feel in them. Then, try to avoid places where you feel the least happy, like the train or your poorly lit office, and in instead, seek out activities and places you enjoy. If you walk to work, you might assess the various routes you could take to get there. Is there a particularly scenic way you often eschew because it’s slower? The extra time is actually worth it: if the experience makes you happy, it’s worth it to go out of your way.

4. Eat well. Sleep more. Run. Repeat

Author, blogger, and now, podcaster Gretchen Rubin embarked on a year-long journey to increase her own happiness, a feat whose outcome was her bestselling book The Happiness Project. Rubin found that the key factors to happiness were energy and vitality. Simple as it sounds, feeling physically and mentally fit is enough to significantly ratchet up happiness. And feeling energized makes us want to engage in other activities, like sports or social events, which in turn generate more moments of happiness. But how do you generate energy, anyway? The base components are super simple, yet so easy to skimp on: enough sleep, a balanced diet, and physical activity.

5. Look out for #1—but for #2, #5, and #10, too!

In her book, The Happiness Track, Emma Seppälä, PhD cites a German study that found that chimpanzees and young children, without knowledge of learned social practices, will go out of their way to help a companion in need. Why? Well, it simply feels good. And compassion can also be good for business: a 2011 study from Michigan University that focused on compassion in the workplace found that showing compassion improved company performance levels and profit margins and increased employee happiness. Those same employees were not only happier but also healthier, on average, had better life expectancies and were more resilient to stress. Many of us are taught to look out for ourselves, but the proof is in the pudding: being kinder improves business success, relationship bonds, overall health and personal happiness.

Get more surprising, practical, and easy-to-use-today tips on being a happier you on Blinkist: an app that transforms today’s greatest nonfiction into 15-minute reads or listens for your mobile device.

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