5 Ways to Feel Happy Now

They say it’s better to give than receive—and now there’s a book to prove it. Happy Money, the months-old study by the brains at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia, reports that people, regardless of income, reap emotional rewards (translation: happiness) by spending money on others. In keeping with the season of holiday cheer, we present five ways to feel warm and fuzzy.

Give

Building on earlier research, new studies, and analysis of data from 136 countries, Happy Money posits that helping others—more specifically, spending money on someone other than yourself—boosts happiness. What’s more, you don’t have to give a lot. An experiment by a graduate student in Vancouver showed that spending as little as $5 could measurably improve one’s emotional wellbeing.

Give Time

Cash isn’t the only currency. Consider donating your time, formally or informally. Research volunteer opportunities in your area through sites like Volunteer Match or reach out to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. Closer to home, raise your hand to babysit for friends or help with an office clothing drive.

Tend to Your Friends

Strong friend connections have been linked to everything from longevity to healthy weight. And while the holiday season is full of parties and social occasions, it can be easy to neglect one-on-one time. Schedule dedicated time—coffee, ice skating, gift shopping—with your closest friends.

Practice Daily Thanksgiving

A 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that grateful people are happier people. And while the holidays are a natural time to give thanks, “The key,” says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis and the study’s author, “is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table.” Need a reminder to give thanks? There’s (obviously) an app for that.

Don’t Forget Yourself

The holiday season can leave you feeling overextended, underfunded, and generally exhausted. Make time to take care of yourself (and your bank account). For expert tips and advice, check out our guide to conquering the seven deadly holiday sins.

Give more (and even have some budget leftover for yourself) with our Top 25 Under $25 gift picks.

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