What Really Makes You Happy? 10 Things Proven To Do The Trick

by The Z Living Editors

Is there a formula for happiness? That's a loaded question, and one that various gurus, self-help authors, and motivational speakers have tried to tackle, again and again. There's even a world-wide ranking of happiness, country by country — and unfortunately, this year the United States just came in at a new low of 14th (Norway, Denmark, and Iceland swept the top three spots). But don't let this news sadden you. There's things you can do to increase your own happiness — right nowCheck out the video about for a peek at some of the ways we define happiness (hint: cute puppies and food porn are among 'em!).

Finding and creating happiness in life is a topic we (joyfully!) take seriously, as we're a TV network focusing on health and wellness. But even more than that, we focus on happiness — in all its iterations.

Tune in to Z Living for an uplifting dose of happiness 24/7 — check out all the shows we have here, and click here to see where you can watch. Plus, we've collected a list of 10 things proven to make you happier right now.

Do we touch on all the below topics on our shows? You bet. Now get happier!

1. Practice Gratitude.

The phrase "thank you" really is the key to happiness, as focusing on what you're grateful for contributes to an overall sense of joy. Some people take on gratitude challenges to get into the habit; daily journaling can also improve your sense of self and amplify the benefits of gratitude.

Also on Z Living: You Should Keep An Evidence Journal—Not A Gratitude List

2. Laugh. (It's Better Than Sex!)

It sounds a little silly, but if you force yourself to laugh, you'll eventually be genuinely laughing! And then you'll reap all the benefits of laughter, like the endorphin release (plus other chemicals in the brain) that can actually alleviate pain. It's a simple formula: more laughter = more happiness. 

Also on Z Living: How Funny! Laughter Makes You Live Longer

3. Do What You Love, Every Single Day.

Life is too short not to do the things that nuture your soul. Find the activities you love, do them daily, and watch your happiness levels increase.

Also on Z Living: The First Step To Creating A Life You Love

4. Exercise. Bring On The Feel-Good Hormones!

Even a little exercise or something as easy and low-key as walking has been scientifically linked to significant gains in happiness while reducing overall stress levels. Get outside, or try working out in the comfort of your home. Check out our at-home exercise shows like Rock Your Yoga to get started.

Also on Z Living: New Studies Show Exercise Effectively Fights Depression

5. Meditate.

Studies show that meditation can actually rewire your brain to permanently reduce your level of stress while increasing your feelings of contentment. Tune into our popular daily at-home exercise show Namaste Yoga for a meditative, calming guided practice.  

Also on Z Living: For Pain, Depression, Or Even Allergies, Try Yoga Before Medication

6. Get A Good Night's Sleep.

Getting enough z-z-z's has been shown to increase your resilience against negative emotions. Just don’t go overboard, oversleeping has been linked to depression and dementia.

Also on Z Living: Attention, Sleepyheads! Too Much Sleep May Raise Your Risk Of Dementia

7. Eat Healthy!

Yep, healthy food really does a body good — and your mood, too. Health-promoting nutrients like creatine, an amino acid found in grass-fed beef, omega 3's from fatty fish, and vitamin D in dairy can boost your mood and combat depression. Check out our healthy cooking shows like Hemsley + Hemsley, Healthy Gourmet, and many more for happiness-boosting food inspiration.

Also on Z Living: RECIPE: Make The Healthy Pan-Fried Chicken From 'Altar'd'

8. Practice Forgiveness.

Forgiveness offers both freedom and peace of mind. As your happiness is so closely linked to your health and well-being, the art of forgiveness can only lead to more happiness.

Also on Z Living: Learn To Forgive Others — It'll Change Your Life

9. Spend Time With A Pet.

Spending time with pets can be therapeutic, stress-relieving, and can greatly add to your life — just ask our new show Finding Fido's host Seth Casteel, who says working with dogs changed the course of his life. Don't have a furry friend of your own? Pet-sit or volunteer at an animal shelter. A few fluffy cuddles are a major mood-booster.

Also on Z Living: These Internet-Famous Dogs Will Make Your Day Better

10. Give Back.

Volunteer, contribute to a cause you believe in, or simply treat someone you love to a meal or a movie. Simply accumulating money does very little to increase your happiness, but spending it on others has been shown to cause happiness levels to skyrocket...and even benefit your immune system.

Also on Z Living: How Giving Is Good For Your Immune System

Check out more about our happiness-boosting show Conquered, which profiles some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peopleFind out where to watch the show. If you've missed an episode, or don't yet get Z Living from your provider, watch it now by signing up for Z Living GO, where you can watch all the episodes plus live TV — you'll get a free 30-day trial.

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