Many spend their lives trying to work out the secret to happiness. And while the answer might remain forever a mystery, one expert believes he has come at least a little bit closer to working it out.
Quality time: Family meals help foster relationships and leave us feeling happier. (Photo: Stock image)
Dr. Randall Bell, an economist and sociologist from Laguna Beach, California, discovered happy people practise certain habits that contribute to their overall well-being.
He said: 'When it comes to happiness, your habits matter. While studies have proven that a significant portion of happiness is linked to genetics, a whopping 40 per cent comes directly from the daily rituals that you choose to engage in.
'So why not do what happy people do? It certainly can't hurt.'
Here, Dr Randall reveals about eight simple habits happy people incorporate into every day and explains why you should adopt them into your own routine.
1. EAT DINNER AS A FAMILY
Sitting down to eat as a family can seem almost impossible in busy households but Dr Bell insists it is worth making the effort.
He said: 'When people are actually spending time with the people and things that are of the highest priority, they feel better about themselves.
'When people are neglecting those important relationships, it can cause internal stress and anxiety.'
It will come as no surprise to learn that the happiest people make time for daily exercise, even if it is just a simple 20-minute walk.
Dr Bell said: 'When we exercise, our brains secrete chemicals known as endorphins into our bloodstreams, and those chemicals flow through our bodies and simply make us feel good.'
Dancing carries the endorphin rush of exercise with the added bonus of fostering our interpersonal relationships.
So next time you are waiting for dinner to cook or the kettle to boil grab your husband or wife and channel your inner Strictly Come Dancing star.
4. AVOID ROAD RAGE
Traffic jams and poor driving can send blood pressure rising but staying calm behind the wheel is an easy way to feel happier.
Dr Bell said: 'Happy people cut a lot of slack with other people. They put their energy into positive things, not yelling at drivers or in inanimate objects.'
5. DON'T GOSSIP
It can be tempting to whisper about your colleague's new relationship or share your friend's secret - but toning down the gossip could leave you feeling happier.
So next time the impulse to gossip strikes, saying something positive instead.
Dr Bell said: 'Those who decide to say something pleasant attract like-minded people into their lives. And being around pleasant people makes us happier.'
6. ORGANISE YOUR DESK
In a fast-paced work environment it can be easy for your desk to become cluttered and messy but it pays to keep it neat, according to Dr Bell.
'Sorry to burst your bubble but getting organised at work can make you three times more likely to be happy. Many studies show that an organised space allows us to focus on doing our job more effectively as clutter causes stress.'
The same principle applies to any other work space, from shed to kitchen.
7. WAVE TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS
People who walk past their neighbours without giving them a friendly wave are much more likely to be unhappy, Dr Bell believes.
'If we walk by a person who is frowning, if makes us feel tense,' he said. 'When we walk by someone who is smiling, we want to smile back.
'When we wave at neighbors, we usually cheer that person up and they wave back - that's a double win.'