Put Titanic and Atonement on your feel-good flick list. Sure, a tragic romance makes you cry in the theater, but after the credits roll, you'll remember what's good about your own main squeeze—thereby boosting happiness, Ohio State University researchers report. The sadder the plot, the happier you feel later, they say.
2. Getting older
Brain scans show that at any age, our little gray cells do a happy dance whenever we notice something good, whether it's a double-chocolate brownie, a cute baby, or a random act of kindness. Additionally, as we age, our neurons react less intensely to the negative things we see and hear. The result: Positivity prevails. Maybe that's why, in a recent national survey, 42% of those over age 50 said they felt optimistic about life's next chapters, and 60% thought they looked at least five years younger than their driver's licenses said they were.
3. A fake smile
"Grin and bear it" isn't such dumb advice after all. Faking a genuine smile—the kind that crinkles the corners of your eyes—eased stress and boosted moods in a University of Kansas study. Researchers used chopsticks placed in the mouths of the volunteers to create a broad smile, a standard smile, or a neutral face (that was to hide the reason for the study). Some were also asked to smile. Then all were subjected to stressful lab tests such as plunging their hands into ice water. Smilers, even the ones who faked it, had lower heart rates afterward, a sign that they weren't stressed out.
After we survive Blue Monday, Terrible Tuesday, and Woeful Wednesday, the 4th day of the workweek delivers a little happiness bounce. So say London School of Economics researchers who tracked the moods of 45,000 people via a smart-phone app called Mappiness. Thursday is the new Friday.
5. Doing less for your kids
Back off, Tiger Mama (and you too, Tiger Grandma). Women who practice "intense mothering"—believing that moms should always sacrifice their own needs, continually provide stimulating activities, and derive most of their happiness from their kids—tend to be more depressed than women who think that "good enough" parenting is, well, good enough. If you can't lighten up for yourself, do it for the kids. Maternal depression can interfere with the emotional bond between mother and child and can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive, self-esteem, and school problems in children.
6. Reading a newspaper
If you're among the 19 million Americans who have canceled their daily paper, it's time to resubscribe or read the online edition of your local Daily Planet. Perusing a broadsheet instead of gawking at the TV emerged as a key difference between most-and least-happy folks in a University of Maryland study that analyzed how more than 30,000 people spend their free time.
Original article can be found here.