Rachelle Taylor, Lucky Chahal Photography, Be happy, The science of happiness, blissful living
Photo by Lucky Chahal Photography
While psychologists have focused plenty of energy on the field of depression over the course of our history, the psychology of happiness is a newly emerging field that has grown immensely in the last five years, and some of the results may surprise you.

Money and material possessions aren't what researchers have found to bring us happiness. Scientists have found that once basic needs are met, that there is no significant improvement in overall happiness from that point on. For the average North American, that plateau kicks in after an annual income of around $60,000.

So now that the age old saying that money doesn't buy you happiness has been scientifically proven, we can explore what does, in fact, make people happy.

Here are three of the most powerful things I have encountered on my informal research through books, documentaries and inspiring people that when put into practice will make you a happier person.

Spread Gratitude

In a recent study, researchers found the the single biggest contributor to positive psychology is to spread gratitude. Hmmmm. How about that? Happiness isn't anything that you can receive, but rather to receive happiness we can give gratutite to those we love and appreciate.

In this video, created by Soul Pancake, they tests these findings and the results are clear. Spreading gratitude increases happiness levels in all. The most significant increases in happiness levels were shown in those that were feeling down or off that day.

Pick up the phone and call (no, texting or emailing won't cut it) someone who you are grateful to and let them know it the next time you are feeling down. You'll be surprised that spreading love is much more powerful than simmering in hate and negativity.

And if you are like me, and those you are most grateful to are no longer with us, speak your gratitude to them in a quiet moment on your mat. Just because they are gone, doesn't mean we cannot spread gratitude to them.

Create Community

The movie Happy is a must-see documentary that was ground breaking in the study of the psychology of happiness. It was shot over four years across fourteen countries around the world and in their research, they found that the happiest cultures on earth had one thing in common: the sense of belonging and purpose through community.

Be like the people of Okinawa, Japan, who have been pronounced the happiest culture in the world (and unsurprisingly, they also have the most people over 100 years old per capita in the world as well) and be a part of your community. Get involved. Do something meaningful with your free time that helps others, and you will find that the person you end up helping most is yourself.

If you are looking for ways to get involved in the prairie yogi community, stay tuned to our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) where we advertise group yoga dates, and events that bring our prairie yoga community together.

Get Outside and Play

Fresh air, nature, and physical activity are all proven ways of increasing serotonin (aka happiness) levels in the body.  Eion Finn, founder of Blissology - a yoga practice focused on the art + science of happiness says that happiness is love, and that love is found in nature. Connecting with the earth soothes us in a primal way, just like the ancient asanas in our yoga practice do.

Feeling down and out? Had a bad day at work? Fight with a loved one? Go outside. Even if you can't get out of the city limits and enjoy the expansive beauty that is the prairies, you can take a walk to the local park. Sit in half lotus under a tree and take a few moments to breathe in the fresh air, no matter what the forecast calls for. It will do you some good.

What are some things that make you feel happy? Share your happy moments with us on social media with the hashtag #PYHappy or with your comments below!


Christine Kay said…
Love that article and those videos! Makes me smile, you made my day 'Prairie Yogi'!
What makes me feel happy is teaching my practice and making my students happy!

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