A survey by Ally Bank asked more than a thousand people to find out what makes them happy. The survey found four factors that can contribute to a higher level of personal happiness.
1. Exercising regularly–Almost 60 percent of people said that taking part in a regular exercise program makes them feel happy. Exercise is a positive, helpful way to cope with stress. Studies show that exercise mimics the effects of antidepressants. It helps increase your energy levels and boosts your levels of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your brain. Taking part in a sport or exercise program can give you a sense of accomplishment and a good workout has also been shown to improve people’s sleep patterns.
2. Enjoying your work–In America, work is not only the activity that takes up most of our time, it is a characteristic that is central to our lives and our sense of who we are. 68 percent of those polled said enjoying work increases overall happiness. Other studies have shown that Americans who feel they are successful at work are twice as likely to report that they are very happy compared to people who don’t feel successful. Work can empower us to create value in our own lives and in the lives of others. The secret to finding happiness at work is to develop a sense of accomplishment and hopefully receive some recognition for your efforts.
3. Eating healthy–The foods we eat influence our brains. One key to improving your mood is to cut back on sugary and salty snacks in favor of nutritious alternatives. A study found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, vegetables, fish and whole grains had 30 percent fewer depressive symptoms than those who ate a typical American diet. Also, people who eat right are less likely to get sick, recover more easily if they do get sick and they are likely to live longer than people who are overweight or eat a poor diet.
4. Saving money–The showed that it’s not how much you earn that makes you happy; it’s how much you have left over. 84 percent of people said that saving for a rainy day makes them feel more secure and more in control of their lives and that leads to an overall sense of well-being. And the more you save, the more likely you are to be happy. 57 percent of people who had $100,000 or more in savings were extremely or very happy, compared to 42 percent of people who had $20,000 to $100,000 and 34 percent who had less than $20,000 to their name. A majority of the savers also said that adding to their retirement account or their regular savings account gave them a sense of accomplishment and made them feel more independent and even proud of themselves.