Six research-based secrets to find happiness


AIM is an acronym:
  • A = attention
  • I = interpretation
  • M = memory

It’s as simple as this: Focus on the positive things, and you will have more positive emotions. Pay attention to the negative things, and you feel worse.
This is sometimes quite difficult if we read the news: Most of the articles report  negative things, such as catastrophes, war, terrorist attacks, etc. But if you try to focus on the good stuff, thinking of the positive things in your life, you can boost your happiness.

Many situations in our lives are not good or bad, but our interpretation of them is. If we lose our job, this can be an awful thing, making us feel depressed. But another interpretation could be that losing my job could open up opportunities. Many people are not that happy with their work but they are afraid of change. So losing a job could actually help them making an important step into a new life.

We can increase our positive emotions by going back to positive experiences in our past. This advice is actually quite close to the daily habit of writing down things we are grateful of.


Research has shown that the more time people spend every day on activities they are good at, the more likely they are to report being happier, smiling, treated with respect by others, and feeling well-rested.


It’s very important for our happiness how we think about what we are doing every day, our work. If people feel that their job is really important and making a contribution, they feel happier than the ones that feel it’s just for the paycheck.


If you think that “if you get there” (e.g. marrying the right person, having that house of your dreams, getting the right job) it’s done and you will be happy forever, then you are likely to get depressed and not happy. Happiness is a process. It’s all the many small things we do that add together and make us happy. And it’s an ongoing process, every hour, every day, and every month of our lives.


It’s important to have pleasure in your life, but if you only focus on pleasure you might have problems to achieve your long-term goals. If all you do is going out and have pleasure, you might never delay gratification. You might never get the opportunity to study or working on tasks that are important to achieve your long-term goals. But only focus on your long-term goals and sacrificing most of the pleasure won’t make you happy either. So, it’s about balancing short-term fun and efforts towards long-term goals.

Five actions to become a happier person

  • Daily physical activity

Physical activity, as simple as walking briskly or jogging for 30 minutes, can increase your happiness. It has even been shown that exercise can help patients recovering from depression.

  • The 20-minute replay

Scientific studies show that by writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience people can increase their happiness. How does it work? If you write about a positive experience, you actually relive it and the good emotions associated to it.

  • Random acts of kindness

If people carry out five random acts of kindness (such as paying for someone’s coffee or mowing the neighbor’s lawn), they can significantly improve their happiness.

  • Meditation

Regular meditation practice increases your levels of happiness by permanently rewiring your brain.

  • Gratitude

Every day write down three to five things you’re grateful for.

Source: ​

What are the health risks of cigarette smoking?

Smoking affects nearly every organ of your body and can cause cancer anywhere in the body. Compared to non-smokers, smokers are 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer and have a 2 to 4 times increased risk for coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths and 80% of all death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking can also cause harm to the unborn, such as preterm delivery and stillbirth.

Does reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day but not stopping lower your risk of health hazards?
A study from Norway showed that there is no reduction in premature death in patients who significantly reduced but did not quit smoking. By contrast, quitting entirely, at any age, significantly increases life expectancy.
Source: Tverdal, A., & Bjartveit, K. (2006). Health consequences of reduced daily cigarette consumption. Tobacco Control15(6), 472-480.


How emotions affect our digestion

Dr. Peter Whorwell, a gastroenterologist at the University Hospital of South Manchester, was interested how he could measure the effects of physiological and psychological stress on the body. Methods to induce stress in the laboratory (e.g. immersion of a hand in very cold water) are difficult for several reasons. These methods may produce different emotions in different people and the participants in these studies often adapt rapidly to these techniques.
Hypnosis doesn’t have these disadvantages. It is a safe way to induce specific  emotions and it can easily be reproduced.
That’s why Dr. Whorwell decided to induce emotions by hypnosis and then measure their physiological effect on the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the colon. The subjects in this study (Whorwell et al. 1992) were 18 patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. A catheter was introduced to measure colonic motility, the contractions of the intestine. Hypnosis was induced by an eye-fixation technique and subsequent emotional states (excitement, anger, and happiness) were induced by suggesting them directly by the hypnotherapist.
The results of this experiments were that emotions such as excitement and anger increased colonic motility (the intestine contracted more frequently), and happiness had the opposite effect, a reduction of the contraction rate. This study might explain some everyday experiences such as abdominal cramps or more frequent defection during especially stressful events in our life. The results may also help to understand why hypnosis is effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.


Figure 1: Distal colonic motility before and after hypnotic induction
Reference: Physiological effects of emotion: assessment via hypnosis
Whorwell, P.J. et al., The Lancet , Volume 340 , Issue 8811 , 69 – 72