7 Things That Are Scientifically Proven to Make You Happier

Life is complex. It's an odd paradox that the things we think will make us happy - such as attaining that ideal weight, having kids, or retiring - actually don't. Then there are some weird things that might not have occurred to you which scientific studies have found boost happiness levels. Here are 7 of them:

1. Eating More Fruit and Veg

Yes, it sounds ridiculous, and like something your mum might have made up to make you eat your greens - but apparently it's true. LiveScience.com says

"Researchers found that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables in their daily diets to eating eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to what an unemployed person feels after finding a job."

Scientists also discovered that the fruits and vegetables that are most likely to improve mental health are: carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber and kiwi fruit. 

I'm glad broccoli and broad beans didn't make the list.

2. Giving Away Your Money

From New Scientist (and you can't get more scientific than that):

"[Researchers] asked 46 people to rate their happiness and then gave each $5-$20, with directions on how the money should be spent. Those told to spend it on themselves were found to be slightly less happy when interviewed later the same day, but subjects who gave the money away reported increased happiness."

OK, so it might have been different had it been a million dollars, but that experiment will never happen.

3. Nature Walks

The British weather isn't always conducive to embracing the great outdoors, but taking a walk in a park or forest could make you feel better. A study from the University of Michigan focusing on nearly 2,000 people found that those who took part in nature walks were much less likely to feel depressed, experience stress or see a downturn in their wellbeing.

(I can attest to this, after a week in Elveden Forest, Suffolk. I felt incredibly calm and happy in a way I rarely do in London.)

4. Buying Experiences, Not Possessions

Research from San Francisco State University found that study participants who splashed out on experiences reported greater satisfaction than those who bought material things. However, if they were buying material things to allow them to have experiences (such as boots for walking or a book to read) this also made them happy.

5. Keeping a Journal

Apparently writing about your innermost personal thoughts can make you feel happier and calmer. As Nicola Davis writes in the Guardian: "a meta-analysis of 146 expressive writing studies, carried out by Joanne Zinger (nee Frattaroli) of the University of California, Irvine, found benefits across psychological health, physical health and even specific disease-related symptoms." Plus you get to buy a pretty notebook, which can help with point 4.

6. Having Plants on Your Desk

A study of 51 offices carried out by the Agricultural University in Oslo found that employees in workspaces which contained plants were healthier and happier, with their wellbeing increasing by 84% (the employees', not the plants'). Other studies also had similar results. I keep orchids on my desk, and even though one died due to my lack of gardening skills and I had to bin it, they brighten my workday.

7. Having Frequent Sex

I guess this one isn't so surprising. Scientists found that, within a relationship, having sex once a week instead of once a month makes couples as happy as having an extra $50,000 a year. However, sex more than once a week had no effect on happiness, so perhaps you can have too much of a good thing?


  1. And yet riding a bicycle while kissing isn't on the list. I'm baffled.

  2. I agree with a lot of what's on the list: my son loooves eating raspberries, blueberries and pears and he smiles and giggles more than eating desserts, I love taking walks in parks and woodlands and I prefer to buy books or a meal in a pub than other things. So buying experiences makes sense.

    1. Aww, he sounds like a delight. Glad the post resonated with you.

  3. Number One could explain the Scottish temperament...

    1. I'd prefer a deep-fried Mars bar to broccoli and broad beans...

  4. Without a doubt alcohol makes you feel better. It ignites the pathways of dopamine, which gives you a sense of pleasure.
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