Smiling is a physical sign of happiness. When it's genuine, research has shown that smiling can help reduce levels of stress-inducing hormones like cortisol, dopamine and adrenaline.
It increases mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins. It can also help reduce blood pressure. Essentially, smiling (and happiness) makes you healthier!
What we do know is everyone wants to be happy.
But how exactly does one go about it?
A Better You: The New and Improved Formula
Below you'll find 5 habits that could help you along as you cultivate gratitude in your daily life.
Embrace The Negative
In her TED Talk, Brené Brown, who studies human connection, shares some insight on how vulnerability shapes us. We often associate gratitude with good and avoiding the bad or negative. The key to leading a grateful life is embracing the bad with the good. Chances are, having experienced a difficult event, you'll start to feel grateful for your current state after overcoming past challenges. In this way, adversity can shape us into better versions of ourselves.
Spend Time With Loved ones
Expressing appreciation for loved ones creates closeness by allowing them to see how you look at them. This feeling does not work one way – intentionally and frequently spending time with the people you value most strengthens this relationship both ways. In fact, such relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and how well we cope with stress. Think of it this way, gratitude is the currency of friendship.
Be Mindful on Social Media
Because we live in a culture that is plugged into social media 24/7 , we should be aware of how we communicate our thoughts. Research by Jonah Berger from the University of Pennsylvania finds that good news beats bad on social networks. That probably explains the popularity of cat videos or buzz worthy stories like the ice-bucket challenge. It is because we are excited about something, we share that information with friends. We also do not want to be viewed as a "Debbie Downer".
You might remember this quote from the Lion and the Mouse: "No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted." Everyone needs a little help sometimes, no matter how small it may be. Grateful people know to selflessly acknowledge other's struggles by paying it forward. Research by BMC Public health and subsequent studies reveals that volunteering can result in lower feelings of depression as well as increased overall well being . You can find volunteer opportunities by visiting Volunteering for America to find a need in your area.
Get Moving. Eat Healthy
Several studies show that exercise clears your mind as well as reduces stress. Combining exercise with a healthy dose of gratitude is one of the best ways to get a healthier body and mind. And it won't cost you any money. Why not stack the benefits and get started on a healthier diet. Learn more about the benefits of a healthy diet here and exercise tips to kick your rear into action!
As motivation, here's 5 minute video to get you inspired and more grateful.