22 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to Be Happy. No. 17 will Totally Shock You

  1. Blah.
  2. Blah blah.
  3. Well.
  4. Maybe.
  5. Really?
  6. I mean, really?
  7. Of course.
  8. Of course not.
  9. Nah.
  10. Duh.
  11. C’mon.
  12. WTF?
  13. Nevermind.
  14. I don’t care.
  15. Get a life.
  16. Um?
  17. Stop falling for clickbait headlines.
  18. Yada yada yada.
  19. Oh my.
  20. Irrelevant.
  21. Yeah, right.
  22. Nope.

Double Face-Palm

33 ½ Science-backed Methods to Boost Your Mood and Be Happier | Part I

Want to lead a happier life in 2016 (and beyond)?

This list includes valuable tips, exercises and “hacks” to be happier and lead a more meaningful life. All of these recommendations are backed by psychological science. In case you are interested to learn more, I´ve included links to some research articles that have examined the corresponding topic. No. 12 – 22 can be found here, No. 23 – 33 ½ will be published shortly. The pieces of advice are ordered (roughly) by difficulty/level of effort etc. Share and enjoy!

1) Smile, Baby

Conventional wisdom holds that people tend to smile because they are happy. And while that is certainly true, it turns out that the other way around makes sense as well. We get happier because we smile. This is called facial feedback hypothesis and it has been shown to hold true over many studies. Accordingly, one way to better our mood is to make ourselves smile – even if we don´t feel like it in that particular moment. A popular method in order to achieve this is to hold a pencil between your teeth for a minute or so.

2) Eat (dark) Chocolate

Consuming moderate amounts of chocolate, especially the darker, less sugary type, has been shown to improve peoples´ mood. Whether this is just a consequence of the pleasurable eating experience, or caused by specific psycho-active ingredients in the cocoa, is still under debate. It works, anyway. But don´t overdo it. You know what I mean…

3) Please don’t stop the Music

Listening to happy and/or you favorite music is associated with elevated mood. It seems that there´s music that has a general happiness-inducing quality (e.g., Happy by Pharrell Williams) but otherwise, it´s more important that you really, really like what you´re listening to. By way of example, I´m really into heavy metal – a type of music that was once seen as fostering aggression and antisocial behavior. In the meantime, it became clear, that the emotional consequences of listening to music should be attributed to the fit between music and listener.

Nico - Family - Mappalicious4) Catch the Sun

Low levels of Vitamin D seem to be associated with depressive disorders, especially S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder a.k.a. winter blues) – and it´s comparably difficult to generate enough intake just from food. Our body is able generate this vitamin, but we need exposure to sunlight in order to pull off that stunt. That´s why we need to go out regularly, even when the weather is not all that great. You don’t need to take an actual sunbath – just being outside is enough (even when it´s cloudy), especially around noon-time. Sitting in the sunlight inside of the house does not help. What´s more, sunscreen seems to inhibit the process that generates the vitamin. For more advice, please see this article on Psychology Today.

5) Go green

Paying heed to No. 4 will additionally help you with this one: the so-called biophilia hypothesis states (among other things) that spending time in green environments (parks, forests etc.) helps to fight off stress and boosts our mood. Basically, the equation goes: the greener, the better, so you´ll profit more from a stroll in a nearby forest than a walk in the park. Long-term studies have found that moving from an inner-city area (lots of concrete, few greens spots) to a more rural area is greatly beneficial for several aspects of our psychological and physiological health.

6) Shake that Booty

Now, I´m perfectly aware of the fact that dancing may not be the most favorite subject among lots of my fellow men. Actually, psychologists have described a specific facet of our personality by the name of dance confidence – and that tends to be a bit lower with the not-so-fair sex. Nevertheless, regular dancing – even when you do it on your own in your living room – has tons of positive side effects, e.g., lifting your mood, boosting your immune system, and fighting stress by decreasing the concentration of cortisol in your blood.

7) Hit the Pillow

It is known that people need different amounts of sleep, and that the need for sleep changes over our lifetime (generally becoming less the older we get). And yes, there are people out there that claim to get along with just four hours of sleep per night. But the truth is: those folks are probably killing themselves very slowly. Most “normal” adults need at least seven to eight hours of good rest per night. Anything below that level for prolonged periods of time will very likely lead to performance problems (e.g., concentration disorders) – and yes: bad moods.

Nico - Workout - Mappalicious8) Move your Ass

Most people start exercise regimens at the onset of a new year to lose some pounds in order to look better in their Speedos once summer comes along. As less known fact: regular physical activity, especially endurance exercises like jogging, swimming etc. at medium intensity might just be one of the strongest anti-depressants out there.

9) Put down that Smartphone

Now, I certainly don´t belong to the type of people that engage in simple-minded smartphone (and social media) bashing – but: there are more and more studies that show detrimental effects of too much smartphone use. Especially among heavy users, there seem to be several adverse effects such as concentrations disorders – and also, a kind of separation anxiety when not having access to one´s favorite toy, e.g. due to low battery. Bottom line: the tool is fine, but don’t get attached to it.

10) Don’t be a Hater, stop the Gossip

Research shows the more meaningful conversations you have (as opposed to small talk and gossip), the happier you will be. Additionally, certain types of expressions on social media, such as swearing and verbalizing aggression, seem to be associated with bad moods and even adverse health conditions, e.g., a higher risk rate for cardio-vascular diseases. So, watch your language, young ladies and gentlemen.

11) Practice Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude seems to be the Swiss Army knife of Positive Psychology. It´s one of the most thoroughly researched positive interventions. Mostly, it comes in the form of keeping a gratitude (or: www for “what went well”) journal; please see this post on Greater Good Science Center´s website for more detail). The power of gratitude lies in its ability to counter the effect of what psychologist like to call the hedonic treadmill. We get used to almost all circumstances and things in our lives, whether they be desirable or undesirable. That´s why it´s helpful to actively focus our attention on all the good things in our lives once in a while. Also, it doesn’t cost thing.

Please note

Science shows that you do not have to practice all of these things (at once) to be happier. Rather, you should find out which of these activities best fit your personality and current way of life – so you´ll find it easy to sustain them. Please refer to: To each his own well-being boosting intervention: using preference to guide selection.

Please like my new Facebook Page

Dear Mappalicious Visitor!

In the past, I ran a Mappalicious Facebook page where I basically re-posted all the articles that I’ve published on this blog.

Recently, I’ve decided to abandon this site. The reason is that I also publish regularly on other outlets, sometimes on topics that are not directly related to Positive Psychology.

In order to have “everything in one place” in the future, I’ve created a new Facebook page that is directly associated with my name: Dr. Nico Rose on Facebook Therefore, if would like to be notified about new Positive Psychology content via Facebook regularly, I kindly ask you to “like” this new page.

You can find it here.

Thank you!

Dr. Nico Rose

Study Alert: The Positive Psychology of Cat Content

Mappalicious - Cat ContentI knew it! I kneeeeew it!!! If millions and millions of people do something, there must be a good reason. Even if those people don’t know exactly why they are doing it.

Do you fancy watching cat content on the Internet? I do. Well, I have two real cats myself, but still Iindulge in a feline YouTube spree at least once a week. Makes me smile, makes me happy. Love it…

Researchers at Indiana University now surveyed some 7.000 people on their behavior of watching cat content online. Here’s what they found (excerpts taken from the study report on the University’s homepage):

  • They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They often view internet cats at work or during studying.
  • The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.

That’s it! Cat content = happiness. For those that now go “Duh…” because they already knew: At least, now we have science on our side…

The 10 most Valuable Positive Psychology Resources on Mappalicious

Ever since the beginning of Mappalicious about 20 months ago, I´ve not only shared my own take on Positive Psychology with you – I´ve also tried to compile valuable resources that help to spread research (and knowledge in general) on all things Positive Psychology. Based on feedback, such as shares via social media, these 10 resources have been the most useful pieces of information so far:

Please share this if you like…

Positive Psychology Resources on Mappalicious

A unified Hashtag for all Things Positive Psychology: #PosPsy

By now, a whole lot of people are writing and blogging about Positive Psychology. There´s also a pretty active Twitter community (please read the post 7 Positive Psychology People and Institutions to follow on Twitter). But as far as I know, people have not (intuitively) agreed on a single Twitter hash tag for the topic. Some use #PositivePsychology (which is quite long), some #PosPsychology (still long and rather unusual), some use #PosPsych – and others do not use hash tags at all when sharing their content. Following my fellow German #PosPsy evangelist Michael Tomoff, I propose to use the hash tag #PosPsy (or #pospsy) from now on whenever talking about this magnificent topic. Using a single unified hash tag as a community has a couple of advantages:

  • Content in general becomes more visible. Tweets with (more or less) popular tags profit from a higher interaction rate. Additionally, as people get accustomed to the expression, it´ll become the general search term for the topic – helping people to find all the good stuff that is out there on Twitter.
  • For the same reason, it will help your content to become more visible.
  • Ultimately, using #PosPsy as the unified hash tag will create a sense of community – just as e.g., all the tweets supporting a certain football team will display the same tag.

Of course, we should still use our more individualized tags like #Gratitude or #Happiness, but using #PosPsy in addition will create the additional attention our topics deserve. So, if you think that having a unified hash tag for all things Positive Psychology is a great idea, please share this post or the following picture! Would be cool to make it a trending topic on Twitter… 🙂

Hashtag_PosPsy

Update

Dear all,
I´ve received a lot of comments and feedback on this topic, via mail, Twitter, or here in the comments section – thanks a lot for your input. I´d like to make three points here:
  1. Yes, I´ve done some research. If PP hashtags were a market, I´d say it´s “absolutely not consolidated”. On some days, one tag is used more often than others, and on other days, it´s something else. In general, when comparing “our” tags to really popular ones, the result would be: they´re all insignificant. That´s why it´s a really good idea in the first place to start using a single one as a community – whatever it may be at the end of the day.
  2. My learning is: with hashtags, it´s all about brevity. You´d want a “minimum understandable solution” that is not occupied by another topic – that´s why I propose #PosPsy.
  3. I´m not sure if hash tags are really important in terms of “resonance”. People resonate with content, not with hash tags. The thing is: in most cases when there´s no predefined tag given out by a source with a considerable outreach, it´s a sort of “winner takes it all” dynamic (you can monitor that e.g. with large sports events). The one that is used most in the beginning (and/or is supported by someone with a large audience) tends to win. First, due to “social pressure”, and second due to the Twitter algorithm that magnifies this effect by suggesting the one that is mostly used anyway.
Therefore: whatever we agree on as a group (and then use systematically…) will be the winner over time. 🙂
Warm wishes,
Nico

Update No. 2

The Positive Psychology Center at UPenn twittered that they support #PosPsy. That´s not like the Pope supporting us, but it´s not too far away either… 🙂

10 great Ways to stay up-to-date on Positive Psychology (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.)

Keep calm and study Positive PsychologyLuckily, the field of Positive Psychology is growing fast. Yet sometimes, it can be hard to stay up-to-date with all the latest studies coming out, books being published, articles and blog posts being written – and all the other exciting PP stuff that happens around the globe 24/7.

Below, you’ll find 10 social networking and news groups that you might want to join to be part of the ongoing conversation on all things Positive Psychology.

Please note that some of the groups might have a restricted access and/or posting policy. Anyway, I would like to encourage you to read the corresponding FAQs and “house rules” (e.g., on advertizing) before actively participating. See you there…

LinkedIn

Facebook

Google+

Twitter

XING (the German LinkedIn, sort of…)

American Psychological Association (APA)