Health

It's International Happiness Day! (Feeling Meh? Here's How to Fake It)

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth and, if not, these hints may help you get with the program

"Cradle your head in your hands and breathe. Just breathe."
Since the dawn of time, there've been umpteen gazillion studies done on happiness. Ok, so I made up that stat but it's true that analyzing happiness is a popular pursuit because much like discovering the Fountain of Youth, unlocking the secrets to what makes us truly content would be life changing.

Happiness levels are lowest at ages 40 - 42 reveals one of those many studies I'm talking about. This one, out of Melbourne, Australia, tracked the happiness levels of people in several countries over five decades, so you know it's legit.

"The jury's now in. People really do experience mid-life crises," the lead researcher says.

READ: 6 Stretches That'll Change Your Life (Or at Least the Way You Sleep)

While that may be sobering news to many (certainly to those who're 39), the Aussie team insists that there are some excruciatingly simple things we can do to help boost our HQ -- happiness quotient.

#1. Clarify your life purpose, values and goals: "If we don't know [them], we tend to drift through life and are reactive rather than proactive."

#2 Keep healthy and move your body: "[Exercise] is a potent anti-depressant, stress buster and a powerful mood enhancer."

#3 Get enough sleep: You've heard it before, you'll hear it again. A good night's sleep will cure just about all that ail's ya.

#4 Cultivate an optimistic attitude: "We can practice looking for the good in the world and that goes towards the practice of appreciation and gratitude. Happy people focus on what they have and less on what they don't have."

#5 Build meaningful relationships: "Happiness isn't a solo sport. It's very much connecting with others and fostering connectivity and friendships."

If you need more to buoy your spirits, recently, Time magazine compiled its own list of "10 Things to Do Everyday to Improve Your Life." A few of them overlapped with the Australian study's recommendations, but these were additional insights:

• Get out in nature: This, they say, is crucial. "Being in nature reduces stress, makes you more creative and improves your memory.

• Challenge yourself: "Learning another language can keep your mind sharp. Music lessons increase intelligence. Challenging your beliefs strengthens your mind. Increasing willpower just takes a little effort each day and it's more responsible for your success than IQ."

• Touch someone: Hugs make you happier. Sex can prevent heart attacks and maybe even cancer, improves your immune system and makes you live longer.

• Laugh: "People who use humor to cope with stress have better immune systems, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, experience less pain during dental work and live longer. "

And, when all else fails, SMILE. A 2012 study revealed that forcing a smile, no matter how fake, genuinely decreases stress levels and makes you happier.

READ: The Key to Staying Healthy? Staying Happy

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