Life

The 4-minute ritual that is guaranteed to make you happier

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Researchers say that these daily rituals are the best way to boost feelings of “happiness in the moment”

Whether it’s downloading the Headspace app, reciting affirmations out loud, or even just quizzing your friends on what they’re feeling grateful for, we are all searching for ways to incorporate a little more joy in our lives. Thanks to impressive results from a new study, though, it looks like there is another surefire route to in-the-moment happiness.

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Harvard Medical School researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute recently conducted an online survey of 500 people, some of whom were struggling with addictive personalities and some whom were not. 

Participants were asked to try out three different daily rituals, all of which had been designed to be quick, easy,  and have significant results without the need of a medical professional or external equipment (such as an app or doing a course). In fact, all you need to complete them is a pen and paper.

The study asked each person to try three different text-based exercises which all involve contemplating on something you have achieved or a time when you have been happy. These exercises are known as ‘Reliving Happy Moments’, ‘Savoring’ and ‘Rose, Thorn, Bud’. 

So how do they work? Allow us to break it down for you…

1) Reliving Happy Moments

Similar to having a good old stalk of your own Instagram and smiling at the filter-glossed memories of you and your friends, Reliving Happy Moments participants were asked to look at a happy, personal photo and spend a few minutes writing a short statement describing as many aspects of the photo as they can. Whether it’s recalling what day the photo was taken, what the weather was like, where they were and how they felt, this exercise forces you to live in that happy moment and is designed to evoke the warm feelings you felt at that time.

2) Savoring

Savoring is all about reflecting on the last 24 hours and picking out at least two positive things that happened over that time frame. The participants were asked to describe them both by writing them down and making the accounts as specific as possible. 

3) Rose, Thorn, Bud

Focused on how we can learn from difficulities that arise, Rose, Thorn, Bud, involves picking out something positive that has happened in the last day, but also something that has presented a problem and then reflecting on how you can learn from that problem and turn it into something positive. 

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According to the research team, this is the first large study designed to investigate if self-administered, text-entry-based positive psychology writing exercises and, according to their results, it’s something that really works. 

After trying all three exercises, which took participants around four minutes each, 93% of study participants said they felt significantly happier. Perhaps more impressive, though, was the fact that they said they would find time to incorporate the rituals into their daily routines. 

Perhaps taking just four minutes to block out all of the noise and stress of everyday life and focusing on something positive could be the missing piece of the jigsaw to kick-starting your day? We will definitely be giving it a try…

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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