Positive psychology is a new and growing field. I have sifted through hundreds of studies to find “The Big 7” ways to train your brain to be happy. Many of these studies have been discussed in journals, conference keynotes and research reports, but I’ve brought them together for you here.
Related: Secrets for a Happy Brain
If you do any of these seven things for two weeks straight, you will feel happier.
1. Three Walks
Pennsylvania State researchers reported that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. It doesn’t take much: Half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness.
2. The 20-Minute Replay
Writing for 20 minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it.
3. Random Acts of Kindness
Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically improves your happiness. Professor Martin Seligman says that, “we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
4. A Complete Unplug
A Kansas State University study found that downtime after work helps us recharge for the next day. Turn your phone off after dinner.
5. Hit Flow
Get into a groove. Be in the zone. However you characterize it, when you’re completely absorbed with what you’re doing, it means you’re being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time.
6. 2-Minute Meditations
A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness and meditation. After the course, parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew while parts associated with stress sank.
7. Five Gratitudes
If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or journal and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week.
Reprinted from The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha, published by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Neil Pasricha.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.